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Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez in negotiations for October 3 fight

Image: Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez in negotiations for October 3 fight

By Matt Lieberman: Top Rank has started negotiations between 135-pound champions Vasily Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez for October 3 on ESPN or ESPN pay-per-view. WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champion Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and IBF belt-holder Teofimo (15-0, 12 KOs) will be fighting for the undisputed championship.

Putting Lomachenko-Lopez on ESPN PPV could be a risky move on Top Rank’s part because neither fighter is well known enough with the casual boxing fans for a fight involving them to sell.

The hardcore fans would be interested in paying to see Lomachenko and Lopez fight, as long as they’ve got the money. But there may not be enough hardcore fans with expendable cash for the battle to do well.

Bad time for pay-per-view

Right now, the U.S economy is in shambles, thanks to the pandemic, and there’s no relief in sight. Unless Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants to kick the Teofimo vs. Vasily fight to 2021, he’s going to need to accept lower than expected PPV numbers for this contest.

There’s disagreement among boxing fans whether you can legitimately call the Lomachenko-Lopez match a fight for the undisputed 135-lb championship, given that Lomachenko doesn’t have possession of the WBC belt any longer.

Last year the World Boxing Council changed Lomachenko’s status to ‘Franchise’ champion at 135, and at the same time, they emailed Devin Haney and made him the new WBC lightweight champ.

The Franchise title is one that can’t be won or lost. It’s the equivalent of an ‘Honorary’ title. As such, for the winner of the Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight to be the undisputed champion at 135, they’ll need to beat the current WBC lightweight belt-holder, Devin Haney.

Image: Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez in negotiations for October 3 fight

Only the hardcore boxing fans will care about whether the Lopez vs. Lomachenko fight is for the undisputed championship or not. The casual fans just want to see a good battle between two top fighters at 135, and the fuss about whether you can call the Lomachenko-Teofimo clash a match for the undisputed championship will go right over their heads.

“Top Rank began negotiations today toward a fight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez, sources tell The Atheltic. The fight is being targeted for Oct. 3 on ESPN or ESPN PPV. [It’s a] Terrific matchup, the winner would be undisputed at 135 pounds,” said @MikeCoppinger.

Teofimo may need a knockout to win

It could prove to be impossible for Lopez to beat Lomachenko by a decision on October 3, as the skill levels between the two are vast. The two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko is the much better boxer of the two, and it’s a waste of time fo Lopez to try and win that way.

Lomachenko, 32, is confident that he’ll beat the 22-year-old Teofimo, who hasn’t been around for that long. The 2016 Olympian Teofimo turned pro at 18-years-old in 2016, and he hasn’t had time to face the kind of opponents that Loma has in his seven-year pro career.

What’s interesting is Teofimo has the same amount of fights as a pro as Lomachenko despite having fought three fewer years. Top Rank hasn’t kept Lomachenko as busy as Teofimo, which is unfortunate there is a lot of opposition that fans would like to have seen him take on.



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