By Chris Williams: Teofimo Lopez is ready to put the bitter sounding Vasily Lomachenko out to pasture on Saturday night when they meet up for all the marbles in their match for the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO lightweight titles.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) says the “Diva” Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) is on his way out of the boxing after seven years in the pro ranks, and he wants to usher him to the door.
Lomachenko, 32, will need to work hard to stay on op from this point on, as Teofimo is just the start of many difficult fights that he has ahead of him. If Lomachenko doesn’t bail from the lightweight division, he’s got this murders row waiting for him in 2021:
- Ryan Garcia
- Gervonta Davis
- Devin Haney
Lomachenko running the gauntlet
If Lomachenko moves back down to 130, he’ll have these fighters waiting for him next year:
- Shakur Stevenson
- Miguel Berchelt
- Oscar Valdez
- Jamell Herring
- Carl Frampton
- Emanuel Navarrete – if he moves up
- Gary Russell Jr
There’s literally a gauntlet waiting for Lomachenko if he gets past Teoimo on Saturday night, and who’s to say that he’ll even win this fight? Unlike the guys that Lomachenko has been fighting, Teofimo has one-punch power.
It doesn’t matter how talented Lomachenko is; he’ll have problems if Teofimo can land with full force on Saturday night. Loma needs to be prepared to have a good foxhole carved out, ready for him to dive into once the bombs start exploding around him from Teofimo on Saturday.
He can potentially knock out Lomachenko effortlessly with a shot that he’s not loading up with.
When you watch Lopez hit the bag, it’s scary how hard he can hit, even when he’s not even trying to put any power on his shots. Lopez is incredibly heavy-handed, and that’s the worst kind of an opponent for an aging former 126-pound fighter like Lomachenko to be going up against.
Is this the last fight for Lomachenko at 135?
The fights are no longer easy for Lomachenko, and there’s already talk about him fleeing back to the 130-lb division to try and preserve the final years of his career. Going into Saturday’s fight, Lomachenko looks rattled, confused, angry, and a very much older man.
The way that Lomahenko is acting is a classic way that other older fighters had when they were about to be taken out by the younger talent. There’s always the bitterness from the old-timer before the fall. Is this what’ about to happen to Lomachenko?
Hopefully, Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum doesn’t take the loss too hard if Loma gets smashed by Teofimo. All those years of Arum comparing Lomachenko to a young Muhammad Ali will have gone up in smoke.
There will be no shame for Lomachenko to give up on his experiment of fighting at 135 after Saturday’s contest with Lopez. The guys hit too hard at lightweight, and Lomachenko isn’t well-suited for this weight class.
With the way Lomachenko likes to fight with rapid-fire, high-volume punch attack, he needs to face weaker, smaller fighters. He can’t use that approach against fighters at 135 with devastating power like Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, and Gervonta Davis.
Is Lomachenko another Terry Norris?
Norris was the same kind of high-volume puncher that Lomachenko when he was fighting at 147. But when ‘Terrible’ Terry Norris moved up to 154 to mix it with the KO artist Julian Jackon in 1989, he was knocked cold with a single shot in the second round.
It’s not that Jackson was a better fighter than Norris because he clearly wasn’t. Jackson’s power was so devastating that Norris couldn’t handle it. Is this the fate that awaits Lomachenko when he enters the ring with the Julian Jackson-type power puncher Teofimo?
Jackson showed against Norris that you don’t have to be a great boxer to beat a guy with more talent. Sometimes raw power is all you need, especially when a fighter has devasting one-punch power as Teofimo Lopez possesses.
Lomachenko has the wrong style for him to be fighting someone like Teofimo. We saw what happened to Norris when he tried to beat Jackson with his high-volume attack. Jackson put up with it for one round and then knocked Norris into the stratosphere in the second. Lomachenko could be the next Norris unless he plays it safe and stays away from Teofimo.
Lopez not treating Loma like a King
Luke Campbell and Jorge Linares really put it on Lomachenko and made him fight in fourth gear to win.
Gone are the days when Lomachenko was able to beat his opponents by coasting in first gear. He’s no longer forcing his opponents to quit like he used to, and he’s finding it increasingly more difficult to fight off the younger lions.
Lomachenko hasn’t created well to the 23-year-old upstart IBF lightweight champion Teofimo not bowing down before him the way many of his past opponents have.
Not getting the royal treatment from Lopez has hit Lomahenko’s last nerve, causing him to spew poison and sound unworthy of holding the crown. Lomachenko’s need to be treated with great reverence like an exalted king by Lopez is odd-putting.
Teofimo calls Lomachenko a “Diva”
“Loma is on his way out; I’m on my way in,” said Teofimo to ESPN. “I’m not going to have a 126-pounder come in and try to take over on me. Lomachenko is a diva. That’s how I look at him. He’s a viva; he’s a b****.”
The lack of punching power for Lomachenko will make it hard for him to hurt Lopez and get him to back off.
In the last, Lomachenko was able to use his high work-rate to machinegun his opposition into submission, but that approach doesn’t work anymore for him. When Lomachenko has attempted t do that at 135, he’s taken punishment and gotten dropped.
Lopez calling Lomachenko a “diva” is him pointing out that he’s become smug and puffed up in recent years, and he’s too consumed by his own self-importance. Lomachenko is no longer the modest fighter that he once was.
It would be a good idea for Lomachenko not to forget his roots and not be worried about being treated like an exalted one with red robes and given the red carpet treatment by his opponents.
Loma wants to make it unpleasant for Teofimo
“Perhaps they didn’t teach him in his neck of the woods that you have to watch your tongue,” said Lomachenko in reacting to Teofimo, calling him a “diva.” And when you’re saying such things, you have to answer for them.
You can’t simply insult a person because you don’t like them. First of all, I want to win this fight,” Lomachenko said when asked, ‘Do you want to beat him [Lopez], or do you want to hurt him?’
“But if I have a chance to make it unpleasant for him so that he feels it and remembers it, I’ll certainly do so,” said Lomachenko.
It would be good for Lomachenko not to get caught up too much with attempting to make it “unpleasant” for Teofimo on Saturday because if he does that, he’ll be walking into the lion’s den, and that wouldn’t be a wise move for him.
Loma should brush off Teofimo’s comments and be bigger than that. It doesn’t pay to get down to your opponents’ level when they start trash-talking.
Lomachenko is too weak, small, and old to be tangling with a hungry lion in the form of Teofimo Lopez. It would literally be a highwire act by Lomachenko to dance in and out against Teofimo without getting clipped three or four times.
If Lomachenko is knocked down that often against Teofimo, he’s going to have a hard time winning a decision, and that’s if he doesn’t get knocked clean-out.
Lomachenko wants to drown Lopez in deep waters
“I don’t think he fully gets it,” said Loachenko when asked, ‘Does he know what he’s in for?’ “It seems to me that he doesn’t understand. I hope to drag him into deep waters, down to the bottom, and keep him underwater without air,” said Lomachenko.
It’s pretty clear what Lomachenko plans on doing to try and win this fight on Saturday. He just revealed what his game plan is by him, saying that he wants to “drag him into deep waters.” That means that Lomachenko wants to take Teofimo into the later rounds to try and wear him down.
If Lomachenko does try and drown Teofofimo late, then we’ll likely see the two-time Olympic gold medalist staying on the outside in the first half of the contest. In other words, Lomachenko will play it safe early while Teofimo is fresh with hopes that he’ll fade and lose his power late.
That’s the only thing that Lomachenko can do, and no surprise if he tries that. He can’t go right at Teofimo early because he could knock him out as he did with Richard Commey. But at the same time, Teofimo isn’t going to lose his punching power in the second half of the fight.
If you saw Teofimo’s match against the defensive-minded Masayoshi Nakatani in 2019, Teo was still punching with full power in the 11th and 12th rounds of that contest.