Teofimo Lopez will box an opponent who hasn’t won either of his last two fights when he returns to the ring December 10.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. is in the process of finalizing a deal for the former lightweight champion to oppose Jose Pedraza in a main event ESPN will televise that night from Madison Square Garden in New York. Lopez will make his second appearance as a full-fledged junior welterweight when he faces Pedraza in a 12-round, 140-pound bout.
ESPN.com’s Mike Coppinger first reported Tuesday that the Lopez-Pedraza deal is near completion.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Spain’s Sandor Martin was the other finalist considered as a potential opponent for Lopez’s upcoming fight. Martin (40-2, 13 KOs), then an unknown underdog, upset former four-division champion Mikey Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder last October 16 at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California.
Garcia, whose only other loss came against unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBC welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr., quietly retired instead of attempting to avenge his stunning defeat to Martin. The 29-year-old Martin most recently out-pointed Mexican veteran Jose Felix (39-6-1, 30 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder April 1 in Barcelona.
Puerto Rico’s Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs) is a former champion in the junior lightweight and lightweight divisions, but he fought to a 10-round split draw with another ex-lightweight champion, Richard Commey, in his most recent action. Lopez knocked out Commey (30-4-1, 27 KOs), who made his own 140-pound debut against Pedraza on August 27 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the second round of a December 2019 bout at Madison Square Garden to win the IBF lightweight title.
In Pedraza’s bout before his draw with Commey, former WBC/WBO 140-pound champ Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) decisively defeated him by the same score, 116-112, on all three cards March 4 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Another junior welterweight promoted by Arum’s company, Arnold Barboza Jr., openly campaigned for this chance to oppose Lopez. Though unbeaten (27-0, 10 KOs) and available, Lopez was not open to boxing Barboza next.
Las Vegas’ Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs), who lost his IBF, WBA and WBO 135-pound championships to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. last November 27 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, made a successful return to the ring August 13 in Las Vegas. The 25-year-old Lopez dropped and stopped Mexico’s Pedro Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round of a main event ESPN aired from Resorts World Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.