Teofimo Lopez Faces Intense Career Challenges At 140

By Boxing News - 12/11/2022 - Comments

By Vince Dwriter: As the headliner for the Top Rank December 10 card in Madison Square Garden, the WBO number one ranked junior welterweight contender Teofimo “The Takeover” Lopez escaped with a narrow split decision victory over Sandor Martin.

Back in October 2020, Lopez looked razor sharp as he unified the WBA, WBO, and IBF lightweight titles when he collected a unanimous decision victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko. After beating Lomachenko, it seemed like the sky would be the limit for Lopez, but two years later, it appears as though the 140-pound weight class could be the Takeover’s restricted area.

Lopez suffered a shocking split decision loss to George Kambosos Jr eleven months after his triumphant victory over Lomachenko. He would go on to take time off away from the ring due to health issues. Lopez revealed his difficulty of making 135, and in August 2022, he made his debut at 140 by earning a seventh round TKO victory over Pedro Campa.

Lopez’s debut at 140 was a success, and after only one fight in the division, the WBO rewarded the Takeover with a very generous ranking.

Lopez would enter his clash with Sandor Martin as the WBO’s number-one ranked junior welterweight contender.

Sandor Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) pulled off a shocking upset in October 2021 when he defeated Mikey Garcia, and he planned on duplicating his previous achievement with an upset victory over Teofimo Lopez. Martin felt confident and well-prepared as he entered the bout as the number six ranked WBO junior welterweight contender.

The first round was highlighted by a clash of heads that produced a cut on Martin’s nose and swelling around his right eye. Martin had his signature moment in the second round when he caught Lopez charging in unbalanced, and he connected with a right hook that sent Lopez down to the canvas.

Teofimo seemed unaffected by the shot as he continued to press forward for the next three rounds. Lopez spent the majority of the fight being the aggressor and fighting off his front foot, while Martin seemed very comfortable boxing off his back foot.

Similar to most of the other rounds, the sixth round appeared to be even until Lopez ended the round with a flurry. In the seventh round, Teofimo charged in with his lead hand down, and it looked like he got caught with a Martin right hand that appeared to knock him down, but the referee called it a slip.

In the tenth round of a very close fight, Lopez didn’t show much urgency, but he was able to land a few effective shots that may have won him the pivotal final round. At the conclusion of the match, one judge scored the bout 95-94 for Martin, but his score was overruled by the scores of 96-93 and 97-92 in favor of Teofimo Lopez.

Despite Sandor Martin’s movement, the knockdown he scored, the sharp counter right hand, and his nice display of boxing off the back foot, he still ended up falling short on the scorecards. To some Martin’s performance was enough to win the fight, but Teofimo saw something different.

“You were running the whole time,” Lopez told Martin as they were face to face during the post-fight interview. “Every time you landed that counter, I hit you. That’s why you were running. That was a boring a** fight. I can’t believe it. I need a better dance partner. You was dancing and running.”

Truth be told, Lopez was very fortunate to leave Madison Square Garden with a split decision victory. He threw one shot at a time as opposed to combinations, he didn’t apply the instructions he was receiving from his corner, and as a result, he produced a subpar performance.

The 135-pound division is a star-studded division, but as far as depth is concerned, the 140-pound weight class may have more high-quality opponents. Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) is a highly skilled and athletically gifted boxer, but to compete with the elite in the junior welterweight division, Lopez must do a better job of minimizing his tactical and mental errors.