Teofimo Lopez: “Loma is on his way OUT, I’m on my way in”
By Aragon Garcia: IBF lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez says he’s not going to be letting the smaller fighter Vasiliy Lomachenko beat him when they face each other next April. Teofimo is ready to take the old lion Lomachenko out, and he’s catching the aging 2-time Olympian at the right time. Lomachenko has taken a lot of punishment in 3 out of his last 4 fights since moving up to lightweight in 2018. It’s gotten to the point where Lomachenko is ready to move back down to safer waters at 130 after his next fight in 2020.
The unification match between the unbeaten Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) and WBA/WBC [F]/WBO lightweight champion Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) hasn’t been made, but it’s almost guaranteed that it will be happening. Both fighters are with Top Rank Boxing, and they want this fight.
Teofimo ready to take the old lion Lomachenko down
The 22-year-old Teofimo views the soon to be 32-year-old Lomachenko as an old lion, who is only his way out of the sport. Lopez wants to take Lomachenko’s three belts to become the undisputed 135-lb champion before moving up to 140 in 2020. The New York native Teofimo won’t be staying around at lightweight, because he’s outgrown the division, and there are plenty of opportunities for important fights at 140.
Lopez claimed the IBF lightweight title in stopping champion Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) in the 2nd round on December 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The win for Teofimo more than made up for his last performance against Masayoshi Nakatani last July.
Lopez: I’m not going to let 126-pounder [Lomachenko] take over on me
“Just tune in next year, and you’ll see Teofimo beating Lomachenko,” said Lopez to ESPN when asked how he beats Loma. “I’m not going to have a 126-pounder come out here, and try and take over on me. I’m a big guy, and that’s just it. And it’s not about ‘right hands.’ I’m not a puncher, that’s the thing. I’m smart.
“Those shots I landed, they’re placement shots,” said Teofimo on his knockout of Commey. “They’re not shots, ‘Oh, let me just close my eyes and throw. No, you place the shots. You see them and everything like that. You talk about the movement and the things that he does. Those things, you end up dissecting all those things.
“Whether it takes a few more rounds, it will come and catch up on,” said Lopez. “Loma is on his way out. I’m on my way in. No, he’s a little man. He’s coming up in my division. I’m already out to 140 soon, so I might as well finish it the right way with a bang. I’m doing something right,” said Lopez.
A lot of boxing fans believe that Teofimp won’t be able to land his power shots on the Vasiliy due to his movement, and his excellent defensive skills. The reality is that Lomachenko’s defense isn’t what it used to be, and never was as great as what casual fans think.
Teofimo not impressed with Lomachenko’s pound-for-pound status
“There was a lot of shots that I could see that were open, but I just seized the moment when I saw he had a twitch, and he was going for the same shot, and we threw it at the same time, but I ended up beating him to the punch and I moved my head slightly more than he did, and it clipped on him,” Teofimo said to ESPN.
“My father told me after the 1st round, ‘You’ve got to pressure him. You can’t fight him on the outside,” said Lopez about Commey. “You’ve got to go inside, and you;ve got to control the pace.’ When he starts getting comfortable, Richard Commey starts fighting at his own pace and landing his own shots.
“I disagree on one thing. You may say that he’s pound for pound, but if we’re saying that pound-for-pound is champion, but he is a champion, but to me, I believe I did win a world championship,” Teofimo said about Lomachenko. “That’s what everyone was looking forward to. It can’t be a big fight without Teofimo,” said Lopez about a match between him and Lomachenko,” Lopez said.
Even earlier in Lomachenko’s professional career, he got hit when he would face QUALITY opposition. That’s the keyword, ‘quality.’ Lomachenko was able to dominate the lesser fighters, but when he went up against the talented fighters like Orlando Salido and Gary Russell Jr., he struggled and was hit a lot.
Salido beat Lomachenko in 2014, and Russell Jr came close to doing it as well in the same year. Russell Jr. was the last high quality opponent that Lomachenko has faced unfortunately.
Lopez hoping Lomachenko fight happens in April
“I think I’m a champion. To your eyes, absolutely,” said Lopez when Kellerman told him that he views Lomachenko as pound-for-pound. “I have him second or third, I don’t know. No, but I will be [ahead of Lomachenko]. Me and him, he has 3 belts and I have one going into this fight then it declares the kingpin of 135 is and cleans out the whole division. The winner takes all.
“I think it’ll be an interesting fight, and a great fight for all the fight fans, and I think everyone should look forward to it,” said Lopez about his fight with Lomachenko. “The only thing now is going back to location and such and such, and hopefully we can make that fight happen sometime in April,” said Lopez.
ESPN broadcaster Max Kellerman seems like he’s hung up on the pound-for-pound ratings. That junk means nothing, because the fighters that rated highly are guys that have been matched carefully, and haven’t fought dangerous guys. Case in point, Terence Crawford hasn’t fought anyone talented in his career other than Yuriorkis Gamboa, and he won that based on his size advantage.
Lomachenko has fought one talented fighter in Salido, and he lost to him. This writer only sees Canelo Alvarez as the only true pound-for-pound fighter on the list.
The Lopez vs. Lomachenko fight has got to happen in April, because both fighters don’t want to waste their careers. Teofimo has plans on moving up for more interesting fights, and Lomachenko wants to move down to 130. Lomachenko is too much punishment, and he wants to go back down to 130.