For a man known for his hectic postfight celebrations, Teofimo Lopez made a statement louder than anything he did in the ring.
No backflips, jerseys or Heisman poses can match the simplest acts in boxing. Lopez defeated Vasili Lomachenko by a unanimous decision to win three of the four big lightweight belts (and the WBC franchise belt), and when the lightweight name was announced inside the MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night, it was a fan rejection. And Ovation, who deserves it, signals that a new era in the game has officially arrived.
Teofimo Lopez is the next superstar of boxing.
ESPN He cemented that position with the victory over Lomachenko – the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter – as the judges fought in 117-111, 119-102 and 116-112. Now, at the age of 23, Lopez is the unified lightweight champion, and the performance he performed during his rise to the sport is now matched by his in-ring achievement.
“I’m a fighter,” he said in a postfight interview on ESPN. “I have to dig deep. I knew it was coming. I couldn’t give it to him.”
Lopez (16-0, 13 KOs) controlled the action for the first seven rounds until Lopez’s offense was recorded. And after a brawl during the rear end of the fight, Lopez responded by rallying in the 12th round and digging deep into Lomachenko (14-2, 10k) and imposing his size on the former featherweight.
Lopez was not shy about facing a difficult challenge in the game, and from that finish Lopez received an award that was right for the risk. Earlier this week, Lomachenko stopped 9 of his previous 11 opponents, and arguably boxing was Xing’s strongest fighter. Lopez wanted to challenge someone like Lomachenko, even if it meant putting his undefeated record at risk. Lopez cited some of the game’s historic heroes who chose that approach.
“They didn’t care,” Lopez told a preferential news conference. “They just wanted to put on a show for the fans and they wanted to show and prove [to] Themselves that they are the best in their department. And that’s where it comes from. “
By doing and winning, the impressive, marketable and affordable Lopez paved the way for his entry into the boxing Xing Superstard and made significant progress as one of the game’s most exciting fighters.
Over the years, Top Rank has sought ways to build Lopez’s brand, as it has laid the foundation of his professional career. For the past two years, Lopez has been stealing shows in Madison Square Garden in anticipation of the Hazman Trophy presentation on ESPN, and he has delivered on both occasions.
Not only did Lomachenko win for the IBF belt that established the opportunity, including the second round of remarks above Richard Kamei, but he celebrated the victory with a backflip by wearing the jersey of the Heisman winners. He knew that having a good prize fight meant being a great showman.
That was true during the formation of the fight against Lomachenko. L’Page was raising his voice in front of his trash. While some feelings of disgust may be legitimate, Lopez more or less admitted that he needed to play a role in creating some drama around the title fight.
Teofimo Lopez broke the unanimous decision victory over Vasily Lomachenko and said that if he wanted to win, he would have to dig deep. It also previews what could be next for him.
“I’m not trying to get under her skin,” Lopez said. “I’m just clarifying. Come that night, he wants to bring it on me, great. I’m trying to bring it on him too. That’s what makes it a good fight. At the same time, we’re fighting a ‘hate fight.’ We are trying to promote. ‘
With the win over Lomachenko, the combination of Lopez’s marketability and his pagan craftsmanship gives him one of the highest peaks in the game. People, including Garvanta Davis and Ryan Garcia, have more fan base and name recognition, but neither of them has the type of win that Lopez picked up this weekend and Lopez’s performance on Saturday could easily close the gap in terms of popularity and recognition.
And as Lopez continues to chase big names in weight and size over the next few years, his appeal will only grow with more high-level performances. If he goes to junior welterweight, he could meet with Jose Ramirez or Josh Taylor, the other two top-ranked fighters who could grab all four big 140-pound title belts by early 2021.
Just as he was not afraid to face the challenge of fighting Lomachenko, Lopez is not shy to take on both men.
“I’ll take Josh Taylor in the morning,” Lopez said, “and then I’ll take Jose Ramirez at night.”
The essence of that joke is why Lopez has the brightest futures in the game. Over the years, Lopez has demonstrated an elite level of charisma. On Saturday, he matched the argument with the best boxing win in the world.
Takeover is complete. And at the top Lopez’s time has begun.