LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez arrived in town Saturday, on what would’ve been Dioney Ramirez’s 23rd birthday.
October 10 marked Ramirez’s first birthday since he died in a motorcycle accident January 24. It was a devastating loss for Lopez, who considered Ramirez his closest friend.
“We’ve been best friends, brothers, for pretty much 10-plus years,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “I’m just thankful that I at least have the opportunity to dedicate this fight to him.”
Lopez will honor Ramirez’s memory on the trunks he’ll wear in his career-defining fight Saturday night versus Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“It’s gonna say, ‘Live like Dioney,’ ” Lopez said. “It’s gonna say number 10. That’s his favorite number. It’s gonna say a lot of things. That’s what fuels me more. That’s just more fire that I need, that torch just to light me up. And like I said, there’s so many other things [to motivate me]. There’s like seven things. I’m just very amped up, more than ready. I feel much better than I did with the [Richard] Commey fight.”
Brooklyn’s Lopez planned to travel from New York to South Florida to visit Ramirez two days after his friend’s sudden death.
“It’s just been a rough patch, but you know, I had to wake up, snap out of it and get into my training routine,” Lopez said. “That helped me throughout this process of making weight.”
The unbeaten IBF lightweight champion weighed in at exactly 135 pounds Friday afternoon at MGM Grand Conference Center. Lomachenko officially weighed the same as Lopez a day before they’ll fight for Lomachenko’s WBA, WBC franchise and WBO championships, as well as Lopez’s IBF belt.
The 23-year-old Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is fully focused on conquering Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), but Ramirez will be in his heart Saturday night.
“His birthday just passed this past Saturday,” Lopez said. “He would’ve been 23. He lived his best life, and he lived a fast life. He enjoyed it. I don’t think he would’ve wanted it any other way – I mean his life, not the death. But this is for him.”
Lomachenko-Lopez is the main event of a seven-fight card at MGM Grand Conference Center (7:30 p.m. ET; 4:30 p.m. PT).
ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the entire card live. ESPN+ also will stream the whole show.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.