As much as Teofimo Lopez loves living in Brooklyn, the unbeaten IBF lightweight champion knew he had to leave his home there last week.
Lopez temporarily moved down to Jonesboro, Arkansas, because New York City has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. The 22-year-old Lopez and his wife, Cynthia, are staying at the home of his sister-in-law, where Lopez feels more comfortable as COVID-19 spreads rapidly.
“Right now, we’re just pretty much staying indoors,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “Luckily, we were able to get everything that we needed. I just had to get away from New York. There are just too many people getting infected there, too many people with the virus. I can’t get it. Especially with me having asthma and stuff like that, it won’t be good for me. With the change of the seasons my allergies really start to kick in, which also triggers my asthma.
“We’re just trying to be cautious now. We’re being careful. My wife has me indoors as much as possible, trying to make sure I don’t get sick or get worse. It sucks because me, as an athlete, we’re always active and we love to stay active. Now that this has occurred, you just pretty much have to be locked up indoors. We’re trying to make the best of it.”
Multiple media reports Monday indicated that there have been nearly 21,000 coronavirus cases reported in the state of New York. More than 12,000 of those infected reside in New York City.
Just about a third of the deaths in the United States caused by coronavirus (157 of 463) also have happened in the state of New York.
Lopez expected to begin training camp this week for his highly anticipated showdown with Vasiliy Lomachenko, the WBA/WBO lightweight champion. Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) has returned to his native Ukraine, however, and Lopez anticipates a fight that tentatively was supposed to happen May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York to get postponed at least for a couple months, perhaps until sometime in the fall (https://www.boxingscene.com/lopez-lomachenko-fight-happen-30-get-delayed-fall--147752).
Whenever his fight with Lomachenko is scheduled, Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is considering training for it in the tranquility of northeast Arkansas. He also is seriously thinking about buying a home there.
“I like it down here,” Lopez said. “Honestly, I do. It’s a lot less chaotic. It’s not crazy. You have the outdoors, which is nice. You get to settle and it’s cheaper than New York, obviously. Not only is it convenient for me, but it’s better financially.
“For a 3,200-square-foot house, brand new, just being built, it’s like $400,000. You can get some for $350,000. Those are the things I love about it. You can get everything for less.”
Apart from Brooklyn, Lopez also has lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, neither of which resembles Arkansas.
“I like that,” Lopez said. “I’m not into partying. I’m not a club scene type of person anymore. I may be exciting when I fight, but I’m boring outside the ring. I’m trying to stay out of trouble. It keeps you young, it keeps you sane and it keeps you in shape. You don’t have to worry about looking over your shoulder or anything like that.”
Lopez prepared for his last fight in Flemington, New Jersey. He defeated former IBF champ Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) by second-round technical knockout in that bout, December 14 at Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.