By Barry Holbrook: Oscar De La Hoya, Terence Crawford, and Shawn Porter are all giving Teofimo Lopez a shot at defeating Vasily Lomachenko in their unification fight on Saturday night in the Top Rank card on ESPN.
For talented fighters like De La Hoya, Crawford, Porter, and Mikey Garcia to be giving Teofimo a chance of beating Loma, that says a lot about his ability.
Collectively, they view IBF lightweight champion Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) as the young gun going into the fight against the well-accomplished WBA/WBC/WBO champ Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs). The two are fighting for the undisputed 135-lb championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lomachenko has looked unbeatable since he turned professional in 2013 after winning two gold medals in the Olympics. Although Orlando Salido beat Loma in a close 12 round decision in his second pro fight 2014, he’s easily won his last 13 fights.
Apart from the punishment that Lomachenko took in his wins over Luke Campbell, Jose Pedraza, and Jorge Linares, he’s looking superb still. The only drop off that one can see is that Lomachenko gets hit more at 135 than he did at 130 and 126.
For the 23-year-old Lopez to beat Lomachenko, he’s going to have to be exceptional on Saturday. Lomachenko is for certain going to have a lot of tricks up his sleeves, and he’s not going to make it easy for Teofimo to win.
Most people are giving Lopez only a puncher’s chance of winning the fight because they don’t see him as being capable of outboxing the talented Lomachenko. When a fighter’s only shot at winning a fight is by knockout, that means they have little chance
De La Hoya impressed with Teofimo
“I love Teofimo, and I believe he’s a breath of fresh air to the division,” said Oscar De La Hoya to Fighthype. “He’s exciting, he’s outspoken, which you need those types of villains in the division.
“You take a look at Ryan Garcia. He’s a good guy, but he’s a beast. You take a look at Teofimo; he’s a villain. Yes, he does,” said De La Hoya when asked if Lopez has a chance against Lomachenko.
“I think Loma is an amazing boxer, an amazing fighter. Linares exposed him a little bit. It was just a bit but not too much, but he exposed him just enough to where fighters can be confident going up against Loma.
“So Teofimo has that confidence that he can beat him. You know what? He probably can. That’s why I say, boxing is at its all-time high and all-time peak and good things are going to come from a lot of fighters,” De La Hoya said.
“He’s ready, and I’ve been saying that for a long time now,” said Terence Crawford to Fighthype about Teofimo Lopez being ready for Lomachenko. “He’s been showing that he’s ready.
“It’s going to be a great fight. I don’t know who’s going to win that fight. I might lean a little bit more towards Lomachenko because he’s got that experience in that fight.
“He’s been there before, but at the same time, I can’t count Teofiimo out. And he’s a tremendous young fighter with a lot of talent and a lot of punching power and believes in himself.
“He’s no slouch. And he’s coming to fight, and he’s coming to knock Lomachenko out. He could, that’s what I’m saying,” said Crawford when asked if Lomachenko could walk into a shot from Teofimo.
Porter picking Lomachenko
“It’s a fight that I would love to see Teofimo win, but I don’t know if he can,” said Porter. “I don’t think he can. I’m going to go ahead and say that Lomachenko wins the fight.
“Still, if it goes the other way, I’m going to be jumping up and down because out of the four guys, Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson, I personally think Teofimo is a little bit ahead of Shakur Stevenson.
“I think out of any of those guys that would have a chance of beating Lomachenko; it would be Teofimo or Shakur Stevenson. I love that fight, and I can’t wait to see it.
“There are some elements that we won’t know until fight time. I saw him, and I noticed that there’ something special about that dude [Teofimo].
“There are some components that we won’t see until we get in the ring. He’s got it all. He’s got the fast-twitch, he can come in, and he can feint you, step off and come right back.
“The dude is special. He’s in and out very, very quickly, and that’s rare. You don’t see a lot of guys with that. His explosiveness and his ability to be aggressive in an instant makes him trouble and makes him a problem for anybody lined up against him.
“Those are his biggest attributes to me. His explosiveness and his quick he is. I can see how intuitive he is in the ring. I think those things make him a big risk for anybody in the ring, even Lomachenko,” said Porter.
Lomachenko doesn’t appear to be comfortable about the number of boxing fans giving Teofimo a chance to win. Loma is still the favorite to beat Lopez, but he’s not seen as a huge favorite like in the last.
Mikey Garcia: Lopez can hurt Lomachenko
“It’s probably the most difficult fight for Loma since Linares,” said Mikey Garcia. “This one is going to be a tougher fight. Teofimo is solid, he’s strong, and he’s naturally big and fast. Loma at 135 isn’t quite the same as he was at 130 or even smaller.
“So Teofimo has a better chance than people think, but I still leaning towards Loma winning a decision. I don’t think Loma can hurt Teofimo, but I definitely think Teofimo can hurt Loma.
“I think it’s a good fight, and I see Loma winning a decision. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he hurts him and stops him. Teofimo is in his prime and on a high and strong. At 130, Lomachenko isn’t the same,” said Mikey.
“Teofimo is good with his speed and his punches. The difference will be the power,” said Leo Santa Cruz in picking Lopez to beat Lomachenko. “Teofimo is bigger, stronger, and at his natural weight.
“So I think if Teofimo catches him, he might hurt him. If it goes to a decision, I think Lomachenko’s experience and footwork will help him win a decision.
“Linares landed a good right hand and dropped him, but Teofimo is stronger,” said Santa Cruz.
Teofimo has the kind of power that can hurt not just Lomachenko but fighters at 140 and 147. He’s a major puncher, and it wouldn’t be advised for Lomachenko to get careless against him.
What makes this fight dangerous for Lomachenko is the hand speed that Teofimo has. He’s faster than Lomachenko, but with a lot more power, size, and youth.
Bradley says Lomachenko is slowing down
“I think a lot of people will pick the young gun,” said Tim Bradley about Teofimo. “And I think fatherhood is playing a file in Lomachenko’s life.
“I saw his last fight. He got the victory, but [Luke] Campbell was able to do a lot against him. He got hit a lot. In his fight before that, the same thing.
“He’s slowing down a bit. I think the wear and tear of 400 amateur fights are causing him to slow down and wear down a bit. I think the young gun has a chance.
“Lomachenko has shorter arms. Lomachenko is going to have to get inside, and that boy has dynamite in both hands. He can sit and wait,” said Bradley on Lopez being able to wait on Loma.
“I do,” said Chris Algieri when asked if Lopez is ready for Loma. “He could beat Lomachenko. I think Lomachenko is best at 130. Teofimo is at 135, so we do not see the best version of Lomachenko against the best version of Teofimo.”
The size that Lomachenko has put on is what is slowing him down. He started his career out at 126, and he’s now fighting in his third division. That would slow down any fighter, especially someone that is in their early 30s like Lomachenko.