LAS VEGAS – Vasiliy Lomachenko doesn’t think Teofimo Lopez simply got lucky the night he knocked out Richard Commey in the second round.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko praised Lopez’s performance in that title fight 10 months ago. The three-division champion just noted that Commey and Lopez threw right hands almost simultaneously, but Lopez landed first.
That shot sent a shocked Commey to one knee 40 seconds into the second round. Commey popped to his feet right away, but he quickly fell to the canvas again because his equilibrium was off.
Commey got up again, but Lopez attacked him with power punches. Lopez’s barrage forced referee David Fields to step between them to halt the action 1:13 into the second round December 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lopez, then just 22 years old, won the IBF lightweight title and moved into position to battle Lomachenko in a lightweight title unification fight Saturday night. The winner between Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) will become boxing’s first fully unified lightweight champion in the four-belt era.
“I was impressed because it was so fast and he became a champion in a very short fight,” Lomachenko told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “I respect that. It was just 1½ rounds and it was over. It’s hard to say something more because it was only 1½ rounds.”
Ghana’s Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) had not been knocked out before Lopez stopped him. The 33-year-old former champ’s previous two losses were back-to-back, 12-round, split-decision defeats to Robert Easter Jr. (22-1-1, 14 KOs) and Denis Shafikov (40-4-2, 20 KOs) in 2016.
Lomachenko apparently has somewhat altered his opinion of Lopez’s complete demolition of Commey. Immediately after Lopez’s victory, Lomachenko questioned Lopez’s level of competition during an interview with a group of reporters at ringside.
“I’m not impressed because it was just a couple of rounds, and I don’t understand [who else he’s fought],” Lomachenko said that night. “He has the power. Of course, he has the power, and he’s a smart fighter. But it depends on the opponents.”
Lomachenko, 32, is a 4-1 favorite to defeat Lopez, 23, in their 12-round, 135-pound title unification fight at MGM Grand Conference Center. They’ll fight for Lomachenko’s WBA, WBC franchise and WBO championships, as well as Lopez’s IBF belt.
ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the entire eight-fight card live, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT. ESPN+ also will stream the whole show live.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.