Teofimo Lopez, coming off a career making win over Vasyl Lomachenko, was going to continue his march to superstardom last weekend, going through long delayed mandatory contender George Kambosos and on to bigger things.
That was the plan.
For most of the boxing world, it was the assumption.
What is it they say about assumptions?
Over the next week and change, the old cliche could be tested again and it won’t be bad for boxing fans. Six consensus top ten fighters at lightweight face off in three intriguing matches starting this Saturday. The favorites are clear.
Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, and Vasyl Lomachenko are supposed to win their next contests. Team Kambosos should root for all of them.
Kambosos finds himself in a rare position in boxing, coming off a win that not only made him a champion but also bought him a lottery ticket. He won at a perfect time when the field at lightweight is full of potential threats whose teams have pockets behind them. There are parallels to the aftermath of upsets like James Braddock-Max Baer and Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson, if on a smaller scale.
A loss by any reduces the ability of the Kambosos team to shop for the best deal for their guy.
All of the coming fights are good enough on their own to make any future palace intrigue less interesting than the fights at hand for now. If there is to be another upset along the way, where would it come?
Let’s look at them from least to most dangerous.
Least Danger: Gervonta Davis-Isaac Cruz
The build to Sunday’s pay-per-view fight (Showtime PPV, 8 PM EST) probably ended up with less soundbites than a Davis-Rolly Romero fight was poised to. Build doesn’t matter once the bell rings. Rolly Romero’s outside the ring issues appear to have made for an improved main event.
Davis (25-0, 24 KO) will square off with Isaac Cruz (22-1-1, 15 KO) in a style clash with promise. Both guys like to throw more than they like to duck, but in Davis’s case he’s far better at the latter than Cruz. Davis has become one of the bigger ticket attractions in the United States and Cruz shouldn’t hurt his fanfare.
That’s not to say Cruz doesn’t have a shot. He has some pop, is still learning at just 23, and can go for broke on Sunday night. However, Cruz wins coming forward and that means walking into the power of Davis. It could be a bad recipe.
More Dangerous: Devin Haney-Joseph Diaz
Depending on who is asking when, Devin Haney (26-0, 15 KO) is the WBC lightweight titlist. It’s a mess of WBA proportions outside the ring. Inside the ring, DAZN (Saturday, 8 PM EST) has a rock solid main event this weekend.
Haney boxed beautifully against veteran Jorge Linares for most of nine rounds in his last outing. Near the end of the tenth, Linares hurt him and Haney spent the last six minutes making sure it didn't happen again. Haney is young, talented, and still proving his place. He passed the first real test.
Haney has another test this weekend. Former Jr. lightweight titlist and 2012 US Olympian Joseph Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO) doesn’t present the same power threat Linares did but he’s the sort of battler who is good by way of the sum of his parts. Diaz is well schooled, experienced, educated to the body, and when in his best shape maintains a strong activity level. Diaz also has a good chin. Haney is going to have a full night on his hands. Naturally bigger and quicker, he should win but Diaz is live.
Most Dangerous: Vasyl Lomachenko-Richard Commey
One week after the above two fights, we could have a very interesting clash on our hands.
Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KO), the two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time world amatuer champion, and three-division former professional titlist, looked like his old self in battering Masayoshi Nakatani in his return from a defeat to Teofimo Lopez. Commey, a former IBF lightweight titlist, (30-3, 27 KO) has also fought once since a loss to Lopez. Commey stopped Jackson Marinez one fight after many felt Marinez was denied a rightful victory over Rolly Romero.
Commey is a very good fighter who has come up short only against other very good fighters. He has real power, a storing jab, and has longer arms than Lomachenko. If Commey comes in with the feeling that this could be his last, best big shot, the danger mounts. The jab of Lopez froze Lomachenko for several rounds. Can Commey follow some of that blueprint? He’s got the seasoning and Lomachenko isn’t the sort of sudden power threat to Commey that Teofimo Lopez was.
These are all good, serious fights. They enhance the picture at lightweight and set the stage for 2022 in a great way. The favorites are favorites for a reason and getting through what danger lies ahead is what we should assume will happen.
For as much as assumptions are worth.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.