Top Rank has the task of taking Teofimo Lopez Jr. to another world title run, and the journey will start in a new division Saturday night when the former lightweight champion takes on Pedro Campa at Resorts World in Las Vegas on ESPN.
Team Lopez and Top Rank have been fielding just as many questions during fight week as to what’s next for Lopez as they have been for the current test at hand.
Chief among the talking points have been a potential fight against Ryan Garcia after promoter Oscar De La Hoya claimed he’s moved on from a Gervonta Davis-Garcia fight and instead will be ringside as an interested observer for Lopez’s comeback campaign.
Garcia, who plans on fighting as a super lightweight moving forward, has also stated that he would prefer a Lopez fight if the Tank tilt further stalls.
Lopez promoter Bob Arum broached the topic during an interview Thursday with Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV.
“With all due respect, I've never talked to Ryan Garcia in my entire life. And it would be inappropriate for me to talk to him,” said Arum. “Oscar and I have a long history together, and if Oscar is interested in making that fight, I certainly would entertain it, and we can sit down and talk. But I'm not going off of what any particular fighter says. If his promoter comes to me and says let's talk business, then given our past relationships, I think it would be relatively easy to make that fight.”
Arum and ESPN would have to entertain Golden Boy’s persistence to having DAZN involved in a Garcia super fight, much like the position Golden Boy has maintained with Showtime and Davis.
Should negotiations get serious, the 90-year-old Arum might get compelled to further look into the upstart Garcia.
“I've never seen [Garcia] fight. Never any film, nothing. From what I read, he seems like a good, competent fighter. If I saw him fight, what difference would it make? The matches are made by our matchmakers … I never have even seen Gervonta Davis fight. I live a regular, normal life. It’s not just about boxing.
“I would hope [Lopez vs. Garcia would be an action-packed fight]. I don't pay that much attention to fighters who fight on other platforms just because we have so many fights on our platform, and I've got to live a balanced life. So I can't spend time when I am not promoting my fights watching other fights or else I wouldn't have any kind of life.”
Top Rank ultimately has a plethora of options to present Lopez at 140 pounds, including Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez, Jose Zepeda, Jose Pedraza, Arnold Barboza Jr., and Giovanni Cabrera.
Earlier this week, Lopez cussed out Garcia, and proclaimed that he can’t be played by the 24-year-old, going on to say that Garcia is all hype and is not serious about a fight.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.