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Teofimo Lopez: The 135-lb division isn’t for Vasily Lomachenko

Image: Teofimo Lopez: The 135-lb division isn't for Vasily Lomachenko

By Barry Holbrook: Teofimo Lopez views his opponent Vasily Lomachenko as a fish out of water in fighting in the 135-lb division, and he feels that he doesn’t belong there.

IBF lightweight champion Teofimo (15-0, 12 KOs) says the 32-year-old WBA/WBC/WBO champion Lomachenko should be fighting at 126 or 130 against fighters in his class in terms of size.

If Lopez is right about his theory of Lomachenko being too small to compete at the highest levels at lightweight, then he’ll defeat him. The Brooklyn native Teofimo is already predicting that he’s going to send Lomachenko fleeing back down to 130 after he conquers him on October 17.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko is a stubborn guy, and it isn’t easy to imagine him not pushing for an immediate rematch if he loses to Lopez.

Top Rank will likely make it worthwhile financially for Teofimo to face Lomachenko a second time, and that’ll make it interesting for the fans.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) will get a chance on October 17 to show that a good small man can do the job against a younger, bigger, faster, and more powerful guy in 23-year-old Teofimo.

The two lightweight champions will be fighting on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image: Teofimo Lopez: The 135-lb division isn't for Vasily Lomachenko

Lomachenko DIDN’T give up a portion of his purse

“That’s pure bull-s***, and that’s exactly what it is,” said Teofimo to BT Sport Boxing about the talk that Lomachenko gave up a portion of his purse to get him to agree to the fight.

“That’s really what it is and for it to be promoted like that and thrown that way. It was the same way that they said I declined the fight. No, I declined the offer. They did with me the same way they promoted Vasily Lomachenko with the 800K.

Now, if they promote are fight, we’ll have more views, but they’re promoting that side, which is not even true. I still didn’t get my fair share, but it’s either have everyone say I ducked and dodged a fight, which isn’t true; that’s not who I am or take the fight. That’s OK.

“I’ve been screwed over before. That’s alright. I’ll do it again. That’s why with this fight, it’s not only Lomachenko that I’m beating up, but it’s everybody else that I [beeped] me on this deal,” said Teofimo.

It sounds like Teofimo wasn’t given the money that he asked for to take the fight with Lomachenko. There was talk that Lomachenko gave up a portion of his purse so that Teofimo would agree to the battle, but that’s not the case from what Teo is saying. So he didn’t get the money that he wanted, but he still took the fight. Wow.

Well, if Leofimo beats the aging lion Lomachenko, then he’ll get the last laugh. Teofimo can get a better deal for the rematch or could move up 140 and let Lomachenko stew on his defeat.

That wouldn’t make Top Rank happy because a second between Loma and Teofimo would be huge. Lomachenko has only been beaten once, and that was by Orlando Salido in 2014.

Image: Teofimo Lopez: The 135-lb division isn't for Vasily Lomachenko

Teofimo wants Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez winner

I would absolutely love to fight the winner of the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez,” said Teofimo. “Why not become undisputed at 135 and then become undisputed at 140? Back to back, that’s something to talk about.

“That’s who I am, and that’s the type of fighter I am. I love to step up to the plate and do things like that. Things that make history and make a legacy for myself as well. In order to be the best, you have to face the best or fight the best.

“I know I am the best. I just have to perform every time to show that I am the best. Why not I go back to the UK to fight someone out there? My job is to do what I do best.

“If I have the opportunity to do that, then I’m going to take advantage of that,” said Teofimo when asked if he’ll shoot for a knockout.

“That’s who I am. So if I hurt him, you best believe I’m going to try and finish the fight,” said Lopez in what he plans on doing if he hurts Loma.

Teofimo will need to move up to 140 soon if he wants to fight the winner of the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez fight. Both of those fighters are planning on moving up to 147, and they’re not going to wait around for Teofimo.

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There’s a good chance that by the time Teofimo does make a move to light-welterweight, Taylor and Ramirez won’t be there. Teofimo will still have excellent fighters like Regis Prograis, Viktor Postol, and Jose Zepeda to fight.

Lomachenko doesn’t belong at lightweight

“I’m younger, I’m faster, I’m stronger, and I’m hungrier,” Lopez said in talking about the advantages he has over Lomachenko. “He’s experienced, and he has all the credentials of a pound-for-pound on that list.

“All the things we’ve talked about. But when it comes to it, the lightweight division is not for him. He’s better off at 130 or 126. He’s a smaller guy, and he needs to fight guys in his weight class.

“I’m a big 135 pounder, but I’m not just going to depend on my massive body on this guy. We’re going to do many things technical, and we’re just going to pick him apart,” said Lopez.

Size and power-wise, Lomachenko doesn’t look like he belongs at lightweight, but he’s still doing exceptionally well. There’s no such thing as perfection. Lomachenko is showing that you don’t have to possess the ideal size and power to always win at 135, and it’s working well for him.

Lomachenko hasn’t looked like the same fighter since moving up to 135 compared to earlier in his career. He as dominant at 126 and 130, but he also was younger and fighting less talented opposition.

There’s a good chance that Loma would have struggled if he’d fought Jose Pedraza, Luke Campbell, or Jorge Linares at 126 or 130.

Image: Teofimo Lopez: The 135-lb division isn't for Vasily Lomachenko

Lomachenko should stay at 135 until he exhausts all his opportunities for big fights, and then he can move down to 130. At super featherweight, Loma can fight these guys:

  • Miguel Berchelt
  • Oscar Valdez
  • Jamel Herring
  • Shakur Stevenson
  • Carl Frampton
  • Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz

Davison: Teofimo can’t let Lomachenko dictate

“Yeah, I think that’s how he’s got to approach it. He’s got to be full of confidence, and he’s got to make sure he doesn’t give Lomachenko the opportunity to dictate,” said trainer Ben Davison about Teofimo.

“He’s got to be physical in there, and try and be the aggressor. I think if he allows Lomachenko to dictate the pace and get in a flow, all of a sudden, it becomes a really hard night. But I’ve met Teofimo.

“I’ve seen him in the gym. He’s the biggest small you’ve ever seen. If he can try and make his physicalities and his physical size and attributes become a factor in the fight, it could become an interesting one.

“For me, he’s probably as good as it gets,” Davison said in talking of Lomachenko. “It’s unconventional in terms of the boxing sense, but in other sports, it’s not unconventional.

“It’s the norm in other sports to use other training modalities and vary things up in the sports science approach. But when it comes to boxing, it becomes a rare thing to see, and I think in that area, boxing is quite a bit behind other sports.

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“Lomachenko has taken that approach, and I think you can see the benefit from that. But as I say, for a boxing approach, it’s out of the norm, but in terms of the way other sports approach their training, it’s just what I call a smart approach.

“It’s probably the fight I’m most looking forward to in the sport of boxing, so it’s nice to have something to look forward to in a time like this,” said Davison.

The only away Teofimo can keep Lomachenko from dictating the pace is by going after him early and not letting him get comfortable. If Lomachenko gets relaxed after a few rounds, he could run away with the fight and clown Teo.

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