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Vasiliy Lomachenko to face Teofimo Lopez on September 19

Teofimo Lopez Vasiliy Lomachenko

By Kenneth Friedman: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is saying that the new date for the highly anticipated unification fight between 135-pound champions Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko is on September 19. This is four months later than the previously scheduled May 30 date, which had to be changed because of the pandemic.

Lomachenko vs. Lopez will likely be held behind closed doors without fans in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both guys want the fight to happen even if the public isn’t able to watch it in an arena. This expected to be on ESPN pay-per-view, but we still need that to be confirmed. For it to be on pay-per-view, Top Rank will need to include a stacked undercard.

IBF lightweight champion Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) and WBA/WBC [Franchise]/WBO champion Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) have yet to fight in 2020.

Teofimo, 22, is coming off of a big 2nd round knockout win over IBF champ Richard Commey on December 14. That was an outstanding performance by Lopez in obliterating a tough opponent in 32-year-old Commey.

Teofimo Lopez Vasiliy Lomachenko

Teofimo surprising people with his power

While it was expected that popular Teofimo would beat Commey, few thought ht would take him out that quickly. The performance impressed Lomachenko enough for him to start paying attention to Teofimo finally.

Before that, Lomachenko didn’t have much to say about the American because he viewed him as an unproven upstart, who hadn’t won a world title.

For his part, Lomachenko beat 2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell by a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision last summer on August 31 at the O2 Arena in London, England. Although Lomachenko, 32, didn’t have to fight Campbell in the UK, being that he was the A-side, he wanted to do it to win over the British fans.

Lomachenko gained a lot of new followers with that performance. The only thing that was missing was a knockout by Loma, but he didn’t seem interested in stopping Luke. Lomachenko fought like he wanted to let the fans see his skills, and he wouldn’t have been able to do that if he’s quickly knocked Campbell out.

Teofimo needs to take Lomachenko’s scalp for him to take his career to the next level towards stardom. Beating Lomachenko would be the equivalent of a passing of the torch from the old lion to the young one. Teofimo isn’t a two-time Olympic gold medalist like Lomachenko and doesn’t have the same pedigree.

Lopez with speed and youth on his side

What he does possess is speed, power, and size that Loma never had. Also, Teofimo has the charisma to become a star, and he just needs the wins over the top guys like Lomachenko for him to achieve stardom.

Teofimo will get his wish in two months from now on September 19, and he’s going to need to be ready. In his workouts on social media, Teofimo has been knocking his punching bags off the wall with his big shots.

Lopez’s power is extraordinary for a 135-pounder, and one reason for that is his size. Teofimo, when fully hydrated, walks around at 155-pounds.

Teofimo Lopez Vasiliy Lomachenko

You don’t see too many lightweights that weigh in the mid-150s. Teofimo is a light-welterweight, who is still able to make the 135-pound limit. His youth is allowing Teofimo to still make weight for the lightweight division, but this will be the last time he fights at 135.

Teofimo is planning on moving up to 140 after he faces Lomachenko, and he wants to go after all the belts in that division. It won’t be a problem for Teofimo to line up fights against the champs at light-welterweight, as Top Rank promotes both champions, Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor.

Teofimo prepared to fight Lomachenko without fans

“I think it’s a great date, and I know that Bob [Arum] has been working on trying to have at least a few fans out there, a couple of thousand fans out there, and I think that’s the only issue we’re having right now,” said Teofimo to ESPN. “With a fight of this magnitude, it’s a fight that needs to have fans.

“We’re training every day, and we’re waiting on it to be official. I would love us to be the first fight in boxing to be out there [at the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas]. I would love that, and I think everyone else would, even Lomachenko himself.

“We’re prepared to fight with or without fans, and that’s what we’ve come to a conclusion with now. But with this type of fight, everyone is eying for it to be with fans. We just have to make this fight happen,” said Teofimo.

That would be a real disappointment if Lomachenko and Teofimo end up fighting behind closed doors. This is a fight that would bring in a massive gate in Las Vegas or New York.

Lomachenko vs. Lopez is too big of a fight for it to be held without fans, and they would both be losing a great deal of money if it happens that way.

Taking a tune-up is possible

“The sooner, the better. Lomachenko has almost been a year without fighting, and I’m six months without fighting,” said Teofimo. “We might end up having to take a tune-up fight before we have the big fight between ourselves, but that’s something I can’t predict right now.

“Our first priority is making this fight happen. Yeah, my body is growing out of this weight, but I believe that we could have two fights in at 135. If we have the Loma fight, then that’s all she wrote. That’s where we’re at right now,” said Teofimo.

Lomachenko and Lopez have both said previously that they don’t want to take a tune-up bout before meeting up, but that be necessary if they sit out of the ring for too much longer. If they do fight in September, Lomachenko will have been out of the ring for over a year at 13 months. That’s not good for Loma.

For Teofimo, he’ll have been out of the ring for nine months if the September 19 date stays steady. Teofimo has too much talent for him to lose an entire year of his career at his age. That’s why it might be a good idea for Top Rank to encourage Lomachenko and Teofimo to take a tune-up if the September 19 date doesn’t work.

It would be interesting for boxing fan to see Teofimo face light-welterweight, Alex Saucedo, in a tune-up. Teofimo could get his feet wet at 140 while he waits for Top Rank to sort out the venue, crowd, and all the particulars for his match against Lomachenko.

Teofimo Lopez Vasiliy Lomachenko

Teofimo still making 135-lb limit comfortably

“Weight-wise, a lot of people think I’m at 160 or 170,” said Teofimo. “I’m not. I may look big, but I’m not. That’s something that makes me laugh about it. Having a great team on my side, we’re able to make weight. For Commey, I made weight easily.

“So if we do it again and I continue to do those things, I might stay a little bit longer. Who knows? Just letting them [the fans] know I’m ready, and just waiting on the call,” said Teofimo in explaining his reasons for posting his video workout clips.

“When that happens, the only thing holding us back right now is time. Time is the only thing, but overall, I’m hyped, I’m excited, and I’ve been watching Tuesdays and Thursdays on ESPN.

“Boxing is back, and I’m continuing to watch those things. It motivates me and keeps me going. All it is is a lot of fluids, a lot of reps, and a lot of reputations,” said Teofimo about his workouts.  A lot of people think I’m lifting heavy, but we’re just doing a lot of reps,” said Teofimo.

A lot of people would be pleased if Teofimo stayed at 135 long enough to battle Lomachenko twice before going up to 140. Unless their first contest is a one-sided affair, then it makes a lot of sense for Loma and Teofimo to fight twice.

The final decision on that would be made by Top Rank boss Bob Arum. He might want to rebuild the loser of the Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight rather than taking the risk of putting them back in for a second fight.

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