Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Felix Verdejo possible on Oct.3 if Teofimo fight falls through
By Jeff Aronow: Vasily Lomachenko could be defending his unified lightweight title against replacement opponent Felix Verdejo on October 3 if Top Rank is unable to negotiate the unification match against IBF 135-lb champion Teofimo Lopez for that date.
If Verdejo gets picked as the replacement for Lomachenko, it would set-up a rematch of their 2012 Olympic competition. The Puerto Rican Verdejo lost to the Ukrainian Lomachenko by a 14-9 score in the quarterfinal of the 2012 summer Olympics in London, England.
The promotional company has been unable to get the 23-year-old Teofimo to agree to the money that’s been offered for the fight with WBA/WBC/WBO champ Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs).
It’s still possible that Top Rank and ESPN will be able to come up with the right amount of money to get the famous Lopez to agree to the fight. It’s in their best interest for Teofimo to take the match, as he could be the next star for ESPN and Top Rank.
Lopez needs to beat Lomachenko
Teofimo needs to take the scalp from the aging 32-year-old Lomachenko, who won’t be staying on the top for too much longer.
It’s better for Top Rank and ESPN for Loma to pass the baton to the popular Teofimo than for a lesser fighter to take advantage of his age by beating him.
The way that the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko has looked in his three fights, he’ll likely be losing soon if Top Rank begins matching him against quality opposition. Two years ago, Lomachenko would have probably beaten fighters like Gervonta Davis and Ryan Haney. Not anymore.
He’s now struggling to defeat mere contenders Jose Pedraza, Luke Campbell, and Jorge Linares. Those would have been easy fights for Lomachenko years ago, but he’s getting old, and his physical skills are fast eroding.
The 27-year-old Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) has turned his career around and won his last four fights against lower-level opposition since he was beaten by Mexican slugger Antonio Lozada Torres (40-4-1, 34 KOs). Although Top Rank didn’t take the risk of putting Verdejo back in with Torres to try and avenge his loss, he’s still looked superb in beating the following opponents:
- Will Madera
- Manuel Rey Rojas
- Bryan Vasquez
- Yardley Armenta Cruz
Those are decent level fighters that Verdejo beat, and he showed that he’s improved with his career. Just how much improvement is unknown. Top Rank should have taken the chance to match Verdejo against Antonio Torres by now so they could accurately gauge his progress, but now it’s too late. Torres has lost his last two fights, and he looks physically shot.
Lomachenko vs. Verdejo an easy fight to make
What gives Verdejo a good shot at getting the Lomachenko fight is the fact that the same promoters promote him at Top Rank, and he’s ranked in the top 15. Verdejo has the following ranking: #9 IBF, #13 WBO, and #15 WBC
Recently, Verdejo defeated Will Madera by a first-round knockout last month on July 16 on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was quickly the best performance by Verdejo in years, and it came at the right time with a lot of boxing fans focusing on watching the card.
You can expect Top Rank to exhaust their efforts at trying to make the Lomachenko vs.Teofimo fight because they need that match.
While Verdejo is a good fighter, he’s not in the same class as Teofimo. His chances of becoming a star imploded in his loss to little known slugger Torres two years ago, and Top Rank hasn’t been willing to put him in with anyone good to see if he’s gotten better.
It’ll be interesting to see if Teofimo agrees to the $1.2 million that was offered to him by Top Rank or if he’ll hold out for the full amount that he wants for the fight.
News update: Mike Coppinger says that progress is being made in getting the Lomachenko vs. Teofimo fight finalized.
“Progress is being made toward a deal for Teofimo Lopez to face Vasiliy Lomachenko on Oct. 3, sources tell The Athletic.
‘Loma agreed to terms last week on a deal that will pay him in excess of $3.25M for the lightweight championship fight. Growing optimism a deal will be struck,” said @MikeCoppinger.
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