By Mark Eisner: Vasily Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez brought in massive ratings of close to 3 million viewers on ESPN last Saturday night. According to Mike Coppinger, the Lopez-Lomachenko fight peaked at 2.898 million viewers, with an average of 2.1 million.
The fight was shown on regular ESPN rather than PPV, which shows boxing potential when fans don’t have to pay to watch.
The 23-year-old Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) made history by becoming the youngest undisputed lightweight champion in beating Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. Lopez now holds the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO 135-lb titles.
The Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight was the most viewed boxing telecast of 2019 and 2020, which is impressive given all the fights that have taken place.
Additionally, the fight was the highest streamed boxing event over on ESPN and ESPN+.
What was disappointing about the Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight were the scores handed in by the judges? The match appeared to be very close at the end, but the judges gave Lopez an overwhelming win by scoring it as follows: 116-112, 119-109, and 117-111.
After the fight, Teofimo seemed like he had a chip on his shoulder, saying he won’t give Lomachenko a rematch. He then left the press conference on a bad note after lecturing the media about some of them not giving him credit going into the contest. Teofimo was the classic definition of a poor winner.
Additionally, instead of taking the high road and giving Lomachenko credit for his performance, Teofimo downgraded him and said he’d expected more from him.
“For what?” Lopez said in his post-fight news conference when asked if he’d give Lomachenko a rematch. “I beat him, and I did everything that I had to do to beat him.”
Loma intentionally gave rounds away
“It was so apparent that speed and power were there. Loma felt, and he knew it, and he realized it. That’s what made him cautious,” said Atlas on The Fight with Teddy Atlas. “The layoff didn’t help him [Lomachenko] either.
“The 14-month layoff. No excuses, but it didn’t help Loma get a better start. I believe Lomachenko’s father believed that it was going as planned.
“You want to win rounds and get the final results, but it starts with not getting caught and not getting caught early by this big guy [Teofimo], who can punch and who has fast hands.
“So I believe the plan was put in place by Lomachenko and his father, ‘we’re going to give away rounds.’ The ends will justify the means. We’re going to lose some battles, but we’re going to win the war.
“I think that was their thinking. We understand the risk and danger. We’re going to deal with that first on the front end. Not on the back end, the front end.
“If we get caught, then it’s over. So we’re going to give away those [early] rounds, and we’re going to make sure we don’t get caught. We’re going to be looking; we’re going to be peeking and analyzing the defense.
“Here he [Lomachenko] is, making sure he doesn’t get caught and living up to the fight plan,” said Atlas.
Teddy Atlas revealed in the same interview that he scored the Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight a draw. He gave Lomachenko rounds 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. The rounds that Atlas gave Lomachenko is identical to what many boxing fans had him winning.
Only Lomachenko knows why he didn’t show the intensity and go after Lopez until the second half of the fight.
Lomachenko didn’t get credit for the late rally
“He [Lomachenko] was giving up rounds, not getting caught, and looking for weaknesses. Another part of their plan was to tire him [Teofimo] out,” Atlas continued. “It didn’t quite work, but it was to drag him into the deep rounds and tire him out.
“Did they [Team Lomachenko] go on with it a little too long? Maybe, yes, but it didn’t matter. When they [Lomachenko and his dad, Anatoliy] started to do what they needed to, they didn’t get credit anyway because if they did, it would have been a draw or very close to a draw, which it wasn’t.
“That was their plan. To tire him [Teofimo] out, look for weaknesses, not get caught and drag him into the later part of the fight, and then start to put it on him. They [Lomachenko] did; they carried out the plan.
“Maybe they should have started a little earlier. That was the plan; it wasn’t a miscalculation; I guarantee you. The thing that made the difference was the boxing ability of Lopez.
“He controlled the range. And he used his size more than just with power; he used it with range, with the longer arms, with the jab and controlling range. He earned a scenario where you had to buy real estate to get close to him to get in,” said Atlas.
The judge that scored the fight 11 rounds to 1 for Teofimo, which was a disappointing score, gave Lomachnko no credit for his work in the second half of the fight. Even the 117-111 and 116-112 scores were too wide in Teofimo’s favor, and that took the shine away from his win.
The way the fight was scored, the judges saw the contest as a one-sided fight, and they didn’t factor in the Lomachenk’s rally.
The judges’ scores were too wide
“Loma being the shorter guy, the smaller guy, had to make ground,” said Atlas. “You had to move forward, and you charge a price for that real estate. It’s like three punches afoot, and Lopez was doing that, his team and his brain trust.
“They were controlling range, using the jab, stabilizing Loma, not letting him get his bearings, keeping him a little bit discombobulated with something comping at him, keeping him thinking.
“Controlling range where if he [Lomachenko] does get in, you’ve got something for him. Even though they weren’t landing clean, what kept him [Lomachenko] hesitant with the threat.
“The threat of the power was dangerous because it kept Lomachenko in check, it kept him hesitant, and it kept him defensive. The threat of that made Lomachenko realize that it’s there.
“It reminded Lomachenko that those risks were there; those dangers were there. So that kept him in his place. But finally, he was forced to say, ‘We got to go up the hill now, risk or no risk.’
“He started to do it, and as I say, I thought he pulled it into a draw. I have no problem with [the decision]. My problem was with the disparity of the scores,” Atlas said.
Atlas was upset with the judges and thought it gave the event a blackeye. Just based on the scores, a rematch would make sense. There are too many boxing fans that felt that Lomachenko deserved a draw, and they saw Teofimo fading badly in the second half of the fight.
The only round that Teofimo won decisively in the last six was the 12th. Lomachenko fought well enough to win rounds 7 through 11.
Lopez isn’t the only champion at 135
“The illusion is that Lopez is the unified and the only lightweight champion of the world,” Atlas said. “No, it’s not true.
“Even though [ESPN and Top Rank] promoted that to make it the event that it was, and even though they say Lopez is the unified world champion of the lightweight division, it’s a lie.
“Gervonta Davis, he’s got a belt [WBA lightweight title]. There’s a guy, Yvan Mendy. He’s got a belt. I hate to bring the bad news and rain on somebody’s parade. WBA was the super champion.
“The World champion with the WBA is Gervonta Davis. This fight was important for ESPN and Boxing to bring attention back to it that was lost. WBC champion is Devin Haney. It [Lomachenko vs. Lopez] was for four belts, but they left out three.
“I propose this one was the Fight of the Year, Lopez-Loma, and I’ll tell you why. A higher level of talent. Yes, it was a chess match, but it was a danger-filled chess match. Zepeda and Baranchyk was the slugfest of the year.
“It was good for boxing. This guy performed great, Lopez. Lomachenko performed great down the stretch like a racehorse. Boxing still gets a blackeye [with the judges’ scores],” said Atlas.
With all the titles at 135, it isn’t easy to take Teofimo seriously as the unified champion. For Teofimo to be the true unified champion, he needs to defeat the following champs:
- Devin Haney – WBC
- Gervonta Davis – WBA World
- Yvan Mendy – WBA Gold