By Dan Ambrose: Vasily Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez both weighed in at 135 pounds in making weight on Friday afternoon for their undisputed lightweight fight this Saturday, October 17th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
IBF lightweight champion Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) looked thin and drawn from weight loss, which he started many months ago.
For his part, WBA/WBC/WBO champ Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) looked in peak condition, ready for battle. You can tell by ‘Hi-Tech’ Lomachenko’s appearance that he’s not going to rehydrate a lot. At most, he might put back on five pounds.
Lopez’s thin appearance suggests that he’s going to pack on 10 to 12 pounds. It will be surprising if Teofimo puts on 15 pounds overnight because he took off a lot of muscle over the summer in anticipation of this fight with the 32-year-old Lomachenko.
The Lopez vs. Lomachenko card will being at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 PT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+. The great news for boxing fans is the card is on regular ESPN and not on pay-per-view.
When you compare this card to one of the recent high-priced cards on another network in the U.S that went for $75, this is a far better event.
Other weights on the Lomachenko vs. Teofimo card:
- Alex Saucedo 140 lbs vs. Arnold Barboza Jr. 140 lbs
- Edgar Berlanga 169 lbs vs. Lanell Bellows 169 lbs
- Josue Vargas 142 lbs vs. Kendo Castaneda 142 lbs
- John Vincent Moralde 127 lbs vs. Jose Enrique Vivas 128 lbs
- Quinton Randall 147 lbs vs. Jan Carlos Rivera 146 lbs
- Jahi Tucker 145 lbs vs. Charles Garner 142 lbs
Unbeaten super middleweight prospect Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) will be looking to pick up his 15th consecutive first-round knockout against Lanell Bellows (20-5-3, 13 KOs) in an eight-round scheduled bout.
The 34-year-old Bellows is supposed to be a step up for the 23-year-old Berlanga, but it’s not much of an improvement over the guys he’s been fighting. Bellows has lost three out of his last six fights, and his career isn’t going well.
Top Rank doesn’t appear to be interested in taking any chances with Berlanga by putting him in with any solid opposition. They’re going to have to move Berlanga up against better fighters sooner or later because it’s not helping his career fighting weak opposition that he mows down in one round each time.
Lopez has a challenge trying to land
“The challenge for Lopez is fighting the pound-for-pound #1 in the world,” said Teddy Atlas to ESPN’s First Take. “The challenge is to get his bombs to the target. Having power is great, but if you don’t have the means to get it to the target, it has no value.
“That’s the challenge. Get it to the target or get it to the chin or to the body, which might be a good idea for a guy that moves his head so much. Get it to the target of Lomachenko when he’s an elusive target.
“And when he makes you miss, he’s coming right back, and he’s touching you with something. So keep yourself mentally with all that’s going on and all that chaos and stuff coming at you, and don’t get discouraged. Don’t get frustrated if he’s hard to hit,” said Atlas.
“I like your prediction of Lomachenko by decision, but I’m saying this. It’s one or the other for me,” said Stephan A Jackson. “I’m saying Lomachenko by decision or Lopez by knockout by the seventh or the eighth round.
“He catches him. When you think about Lopez and what you see, even though he’s just as many fights as Lomachenko at this point. Do you expect the experience to be an issue in this fight?”
“It better be if Lomachenko is going to win,” Atlas said when asked if the experience is going to be an issue against Teofimo. “Otherwise, you’re going with youth and power.”
It’s going to be a challenge for Teofimo to land against Lomachenko, but not an impossible task. Lomachenko will dance around, but he eventually will come forward to throw his punches. When that happens, he’ll get nailed now and then by Teofimo.
Lomachenko has defensive skills, but his reflexes aren’t what they need to be for him to get through the fight without getting hit hard at least 100 times. If Lomachenko gets hit that many times by Teofimo, he may visit the canvas once or twice.
Lomachenko showing age
“Punchers are not made, they’re born, and this guy Lopez was born to punch, and he’s got one more thing going for him,” said Atlas. “He reminds me of Pacquiao in a way with power in either hand, but his closing step.
“His ability to explode. It’s kind of like an athlete in football, basketball, or any of those sports, where it’s not about running a 40. And it’s about the quickness; it’s about the closing step.
“He’s got that burst. Not everybody has got that burst where he can be just out of range, and then bang, he’s in range, he’s right on top of you. That’s the thing that is so dangerous about Lopez.
“How fast he can close that gap. So yeah, Lomachenko better use that experience, and there’s no margin for error, none. So he’s really going to have to be at his best at 32 years of age, and you know I don’t judge fighters chronologically.
“I judge age like a car. How many miles does it have on it? There are miles on the odometer of Lomachenko. 400 amateur fights. I know he doesn’t get hit, but he gets hit.
“Lately, he’s starting to show that he’s beginning to put a foot in the shadow. Just a little bit. He got dropped by Linares a couple of fights ago, and he got shaken a little bit by Campbell,” Atlas said of Lomachenko.
Most boxing fans can see the age starting to show on Lomachenko from his recent fights. While some would blame Lomachenko’s less than spectacular performances on him fighting at 135 now, it’s more of a case of age.
Two of the guys that Loma had problems with, Jose Pedraza and Jorge Linares, used to fight at 130 just like him. It wasn’t the size that gave Lomachenko problems with Linares and Pedraza. It’s more of an age-related problem, which is fine. All fighters get old.
Teofimo must use feints
“400 amateur fights and one loss, and he avenged that loss twice in the amateurs, and he won two gold medals. It’s ridiculous,” said Max Kellerman of Lomachenko.
“But Luke Campbell and Jorge Linares show you that Lomachenko isn’t really a lightweight. Teofimo Lopez is easy to root for because he’s a terrific fighter and a great kid. He’s easy to root for.
“He’s [Teofimo] more like a junior welterweight  fighting at lightweight. Lomachenko is a featherweight , junior lightweight  moving up. Campbell, by the way, is a gold medalist, and Linares is an excellent fighter.
“They bothered Lomachenko more than he’s normally bothered. They’re rangier kinds of fighters. They have height and reach. That’s not Teofimo, but Lomachenko has complimented Teofimo’s IQ. How can Teofimo use that boxing IQ to help him deliver that power?”
“With feints,” said Atlas about how Teofimo can use his boxing IQ to land his power shots on Lomachenko. “You can’t throw cold punches at a magician, a guy that becomes a ghost. You’re going to miss, and you’re going to miss and get countered. You’ve got to feint a little bit.
“Get him to move prematurely, a split micro-second that he intended to. A little feint, and then bang, then you throw. You got to time him. You’ve got to elevate your cerebral game where you’re executing at the top of your game.
“You’re not just going in there chucking punches. If you do that, you get taken apart by Lomachenko.”
Teofimo has enough hand speed to land his shots even without using feints to trick Lomachenko, but it would help if he did. It’s unclear whether Teofimo’s dad Teofimo Sr has been working with him on using feints. That’s not something he normally does in his fights because he doesn’t need to.
With Lopez’s power and hand speed, he’s less reliant on the use of feints the way slower fighters are. It would help Teofimo if he utilized those during the Lomacheno fight so that he can increase his connect percentage.
Atlas: Lopez will hurt Loma at some point
“Does Lopez have to catch Lomachenko, or does he have the skills necessary to maul him and beat him down because he’s the bigger fighter with the bigger punch?” said Jackson.
“If he [Lopez] goes in there to maul him, then he’s going to be missing Lomachenko doesn’t get mauled. He’s got the best legs in the business,” said Atlas. “Not only does he have the best head movement, but the best legs. His father [Anatoliy Lomachenko], when he was young, made him do something that he didn’t feel like doing.
“You guys wouldn’t want to do it. He made him stop boxing and take dance lessons. That’s what he made him do. Listen, Lomachenko doesn’t get mauled.
“So if the attitude is to maul him, then he’s going to be missing, and he’s going to get outboxed. That’s what’s going to happen. But if he wants to be able to box with Lomachenko and play a pressure game.
“You have to do more than just maul and go out there and have to knock him [Lomachenko] out.
“I think somewhere along the line, he’s going to hurt Lomachenko and reverse roles and flip the script where he gets Lomachenko to have to take the chances and not counter-punch so much and have to take the risk a little bit,” Atlas said.
It’s a reasonable assumption to believe that Lopez will hurt Lomachenko at some point in the fight. If the match goes into the later rounds like Lomachenko is talking about, it increases the chances that Lopez will hurt him.
It’s safe to say that Teofimo has a better chance of hurting Lomachenko than the other way around.
Lomachenko is on a different caliber
“No, I don’t,” said Magdaleno to Fighthype when asked if he thinks Teofimo beats Lomachenko. “Nothing personal towards Lopez, but I think Lomachenko is on a different caliber with his footwork and hand speed.
“He has power for being a little guy, and he’s just fast all around. I don’t think Lopez has fought anybody like that with that kind of caliber yet. When you’re in there, it’s a totally different ballgame.
“I think once he starts seeing his movement, and sees that he’s not going to be there when he wants him to be there to land that big right hand that he likes to throw, I think that’s going to frustrate him,” said Magdaleno.
Former WBO super middleweight champion Jesse Magdaleno could be right about Lomachenko being the better fighter on Saturday. No one has seen Teofimo exhibit the same kind of technical boxing skills that we’ve seen from Loma during his short five-year pro career.
What Teofimo does have going for him is his speed, power, size, and youth. Whether all that combined is enough to offset Lomachenko’s ring IQ and technical ability remains to be seen.
Teofimo will get picked apart
“Lomachenko is then going to pick him apart and take him out slowly,” Magdaleno continued. “The biggest thing I tell everybody is to believe in yourself. If you believe in your ability and don’t think anybody can stop you.
“That’s where Lopez is right now. He has a strong vibe on him where he feels he can beat Lomachenko, but I think with his experience Loma has, and Lopez has, I feel Lomachenko is on a different level.
“I think he does, but Loma is such a tricky guy. He could be in there one minute, and in the next, he could be on the side or you or walking circles around you,” said Magdaleno when asked dif Teofimo has the athleticism to deal with Lomachenko’s movements.
“That’s just the way he is. It isn’t easy to catch a guy like that. You have to be pinpoint at the same pace he is, or you got to throw when he throws to catch him.
“Sometimes that’s a difficult part to exchange at the same time as another fighter of that caliber that’s able to move like that. I would have to say that Lope will need to punch when he punches to land that big shot,” said Magdaleno.
Lomachenko may indeed pick Teofimo apart on Saturday, but he’s going to know he was in a fight. Teofimo isn’t an easy out. He’s going to get his pound of flesh if he stays in there into the later rounds.