Bob Arum expects that Teofimo Lopez will return to the ring on a night and at a venue that have served the former lightweight champion well.
Arum confirmed to BoxingScene.com that his promotional company’s plan is to have Lopez headline a card ESPN will broadcast December 10 from Madison Square Garden in New York. That telecast will immediately follow the network’s coverage of the 2022 Heisman Trophy presentation.
Matchmakers for Arum’s Top Rank Inc. are sorting through potential opponents for Lopez’s second fight as a junior welterweight. The Brooklyn native’s return date is essentially set, but Lopez’s handlers and Arum’s team still have to come to an agreement on his opponent and his purse.
“That’s certainly our plan, to have him come back at Madison Square Garden on Heisman night,” Arum said. “And then we would load it up with all of the super [prospects] that we’re promoting. We’re blessed like we never have been before with such young up-and-coming talent. You look at our undercards and you have one fighter after another that you would swear is gonna become a world champion.”
The 25-year-old Lopez ended an eight-month layoff August 13 in Las Vegas.
In his first fight since Australian underdog George Kambosos Jr. upset him by split decision last November 27 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) dropped and stopped Mexico’s Pedro Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round of a scheduled 10-round main event ESPN aired from Resorts World Las Vegas. Lopez had won each of the first six rounds on all three scorecards before he finished off Campa in the seventh round.
“I think he was a little shaky at first,” Arum said. “And then he got into gear and he did what he had to do. But again, with a nine-month layoff and having the medical problems that he had, I think he was a little tentative. I don’t think the new weight class had much to do with it. I just think it was the layoff and what had happened to him in the Kambosos fight made him a little bit more tentative, until he really got going.”
Lopez revealed after Kambosos (20-1, 10 KOs) defeated him that emergency room doctors diagnosed him during a post-fight visit with “pneumomediastinum,” a potentially fatal condition that occurs when air circulates in the chest between someone’s lungs. Physicians determined Lopez should not have boxed Kambosos that night, but he didn’t alert anyone about how he felt because he thought his chronic asthma was the cause of feeling off before and during his fight with Kambosos.
Before Kambosos knocked him off, Lopez twice recorded sensational knockouts on cards ESPN aired the night of its Heisman show.
The former IBF/WBA/WBC franchise/WBO 135-pound champion knocked out Richard Commey in the second round of their December 2019 bout to win the IBF belt at Madison Square Garden. A year earlier, Lopez viciously knocked out Mason Menard in the first round at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.