Almost eight months removed from the “retirement” no one took seriously, Teofimo Lopez will be showcased on a huge stage Thursday night in the shadows of the biggest annual sporting spectacle in the United States.

Lopez’s 12-round, 140-pound title fight against Jamaine Ortiz will take place amid the hustle and bustle of Super Bowl week in Las Vegas, where the Chiefs and 49ers will play Sunday at nearby Allegiant Stadium in a game that will attract over 100 million domestic television viewers on CBS. The audience will be significantly smaller for Lopez-Ortiz on ESPN, especially since their main event won’t start until late Thursday night on the East Coast, yet this still amounts to a huge opportunity for Lopez to strengthen the momentum “The Takeover” began building by beating previously undefeated 140-pound champion Josh Taylor on June 10 in New York.

The 26-year-old Lopez’s impressive victory over the Scottish southpaw was his third straight since George Kambosos Jr. upset him by split decision in November 2021 and reminded boxing fans that the former unified lightweight champion remains one of the most talented performers in the sport. Once Lopez returned from his “retirement,” the charismatic entertainer reminded his promoter that there is still plenty of time for the brash Brooklyn native to become the type of star Bob Arum always imagined.

“If he keeps his head on straight and acts like he’s acting now,” Arum told, “he can be a major star because he’s a fun guy and I think he has begun to understand that boxing is not only a sport, but it’s also the entertainment business.”

Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) has embraced the theme of this promotion, “The Showman Returns.” He even went as far as to refer to himself as “the big clown of the sport of boxing” during their press conference Tuesday at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where he’ll oppose Ortiz at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

An amused Arum – whose company, Top Rank Inc., has promoted Lopez throughout his seven-year pro career – has enjoyed watching Lopez happily promote this show, something he didn’t do all that much before he challenged Taylor in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s a character,” Arum said. “You always laugh when he’s on.”

The polarizing Lopez peculiarly read a book about Bruce Lee during the abovementioned press conference. As long as he studies and sticks to the script, though, Arum believes Lopez will win the high-profile fights, most notably a 140-pound showdown with unbeaten WBC champ Devin Haney, that could become available to Lopez if he overcomes Ortiz.

“He was listening to the wrong people,” Arum said. “We can’t spend 24/7 with any one fighter, because we have so many fighters and we’re doing so many programs. So, sometimes when we’re not around, he has people buzzing in his ear about this and that, and they become discontented. But I think his eyes are open now, and I look for a great and fun career from him.”

Arum wanted to match Lopez against Jose Ramirez on Thursday night. Ramirez (28-1, 18 KOs), a former WBC/WBO 140-pound champ from Avenal, California, turned down a $2 million payday and parted ways with Top Rank to sign with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Lopez is a 7-1 favorite over Ortiz, according to DraftKings sportsbook. An oblivious Ortiz is motivated not only to win a world title, but to avenge his close loss to Lopez in the 132-pound final at the 2015 National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions at nearby Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.

Ortiz (17-1-1, 8 KOs), of Worcester, Massachusetts, has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in seven years as a pro. Lopez upset Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-round lightweight title fight two years before Lomachenko beat Ortiz in October 2022 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s in a great state of mind,” Arum said of Lopez. “Jamaine Ortiz is a very difficult fight, but there are a lot of rewards, obviously, on the other side for him.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.