Teofimo Lopez has impressed Jorge Linares.
The former WBA and WBC lightweight champion speaks from experience, however, when he says “it’s a little different” when you fight Vasiliy Lomachenko. Linares knocked down Lomachenko with a right hand late in the sixth round of their back-and-forth fight in May 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lomachenko recovered from that knockdown and knocked out Linares with a quick, temporarily paralyzing left hand to Linares’ body in the 10th round. Two years later, Linares still considers the 32-year-old Lomachenko the best lightweight in boxing.
The 34-year-old Linares acknowledged during a recent interview on “The Ak And Barak Show” on SiriusXM and DAZN that the lightweight division is loaded with young talent. The native Venezuelan just can’t see any of them beating Lomachenko at this point, Lopez included.
“We can see they have a lot of good boxers in lightweight,” Linares said. “But, you know, I was fighting with Lomachenko. He’s still the best at lightweight. But, you know, he has a big, tough opponent next. It’s Teofimo Lopez, right? So, Teofimo Lopez is a good fighter, too.”
Is the hard-hitting, 22-year-old champion good enough to beat the technically masterful Lomachenko?
“I don’t think so,” Linares said. “Lomachenko is different right now. After my fight, Lomachenko changed so much, right? So much, but he’s still the best, for me.”
Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) was ahead on one scorecard, 86-84, and down by the same score on another card when Lomachenko stopped him. A third judge had their fight even entering the 10th round, 85-85.
Promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com that he intends to schedule Lomachenko-Lopez for some point in September. Arum offered Lomachenko and Lopez interim bouts in June and July, respectively, but both lightweight champions turned down those opportunities because they want to fight each other next.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the WBA/WBO lightweight champ, and Brooklyn’s Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), who owns the IBF title, were supposed to meet May 30 at Madison Square Garden. Their 135-pound title unification fight was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arum, whose company promotes Lomachenko and Lopez, also said Tuesday that he is willing to put on their fight without fans in attendance, even though it would cost his company more than $1 million in ticket revenue.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.