By Chris Williams: The lightweight unification fight between Teofimo Lopez and Vasily Lomachenko could be heading towards Las Vegas, Nevada, the new Allegiant Stadium, says Bob Arum.
This could be a good location for Lopez and Lomachenko to shine in front of the Las Vegas fans in September. Arum still doesn’t have a specification date for the Lopez-Loma fight, but that’ll come shortly once he nails down the location of the fight.
The stadium seats 65,000, but Arum is planning on just a small crowd of fans being allowed to attend to follow the safety protocols of spacing them out in the seating.
Lopez-Lomachenko is an excellent unification fight that will eliminate one of the many champions in the 135-pound division. Lomachenko, 32, is viewed by some as the best of the belt holders at lightweight, but he’s looking old now and not the fighter he was three years ago.
Teofimo on the cusp of fame
If Teofimo beats Lomachenko, it could make him a star right away. That’ll be good and bad for Arum, as he’ll have a no star, but he’ll also need to give up on his dream of turning Lomachenko into a big name.
He’s continuously praised the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko, even comparing him to Muhammad Ali, but the fans just haven’t rallied around him.
The way that Lomachenko fights, which involves a lot of weaker punches being thrown, isn’t as exciting as fighters like Teofimo, who sits down on his shots and produced crowd-pleasing knockouts each time he fights.
The guy that will likely bring in the boxing fans for this fight is Teofimo, not Lomachenko, which is probably frustrating for Arum. He’s been trying hard to turn Lomachenko into a star in the United States, and it’s just not worked.
If the fight happens in September, it’ll have been four months later when it was initially planned to take place on May 30. The pandemic changed the original plans for the Lopez-Lomachenko fight, making it necessary to move it to a later date.
It would be a let down of significant proportions to have such a big fight as Lomachenko vs. Lopez in front of such a small audience as what Arum envisions.
Arum working on Lopez vs. Lomachenko
It’s the only way forward unless Arum wants to schedule it for later in 2020 when full crowds are hopefully allowed back in for live events in Vegas.
The Allegiant Stadium was built for the Las Vegas Raiders NFL football team.
“We’re hoping to do it in September with a limited audience,” Arum said to Skysports.com on the Lopez vs. Lomachenko fight. “They’re talking to us about doing this fight in their stadium in September for maybe 10,000 people spread out.
“The Nevada commission is way ahead of everybody in terms of moving forwards,” said Arum.
Lomachenko doesn’t like the trash-talking that the young 22-year-old Lopez has been doing, and he wants to look to relish the moment of beating him. It might not work out in Lomachenko’s favor, unfortunately, if Lopez can hit him a lot.
Jose Pedraza, Jorge Linares, and Luke Campbell all put hands on Lomachenko, and his face looking swollen. Although Lomachenko beat those three guys, his face looked like he was the loser. If Lopez can land as many punches on Lomachenko as those three fighters did, it’ll be lucky if the Ukrainian star makes it to the sixth round.
If it does go the 12 rounds, the judges won’t have much of choice in picking Lopez as the winner. His power is so much better than Lomachenko, and it’s not even a point of discussion.
The power isn’t there for Lomachenko
Lomachenko started his professional career at featherweight [126-pounds], and he’s still punching with that kind of power. In contrast, Lopez has the power of a 154-pounder, which isn’t all that surprising because he weighs in the mid-150s after he’s rehydrated.
If Lomachenko can handle the power of the junior-middleweight sized Lopez, that would say a lot about his chin, but it’s still unlikely the judges will give him the decision.
The judges are more impressed with the fighters that land the harder, cleaner shots. That’s why Lomachenko could be in trouble in this fight unless he finds some power somewhere before he meets up with the young Lopez.
Arum has a Top Rank boxing card this Tuesday, June 9, headlined by Shakur Stevenson vs. Felix Caraballo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight is behind closed doors with no fans in attendance.
Unfortunately, it’s not a big match-up. Caraballo isn’t a contender at 130 or 135. He’s an average fighter of limited talent that the Top Rank match-maker found for Stevenson to fight. Although Arum believes Caraballo is a quality guy, but the fans don’t agree.
The choice of opponent has been widely criticized by boxing fans, especially with Shakur bagging about how he wants to outdo Floyd Mayweather Jr’s 50-0 record. If Top Rank is going to match Stevenson against guys like Carballo, he’ll break Mayweather’s 50-0 record at some point.