Teofimo Lopez obviously isn’t looking past Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The unbeaten IBF lightweight champion wasn’t trying to disrespect Felix Verdejo, either. When he was asked, however, about boxing Verdejo next if he beats Lomachenko on Saturday night, Lopez expressed interest in other opponents over Verdejo.
“After I beat Vasiliy Lomachenko on October 17th, I think that I wanna look ahead to bigger names and bigger fights,” Lopez responded during a virtual press conference recently. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think that Verdejo is one of those big names right now. I think that maybe if he becomes champion or something like that, then I will think that it will make sense to fight him.”
Puerto Rico’s Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) has won four straight fights since Mexico’s Antonio Lozado (40-4-1, 34 KOs) upset him by 10th-round technical knockout in March 2018 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. He has especially demonstrated improvement while working with his new trainer, Ismael Salas, in his past two fights.
The 27-year-old Verdejo knocked out previously unbeaten Will Madera (15-1-3, 8 KOs) in the first round of his most recent action, July 16 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) would prefer pursuing bigger fights than one versus Verdejo after facing Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) in their 12-round, 135-pound title unification fight.
“I know a lot of people, after I beat Lomachenko,” Lopez explained, “a lot of people are gonna come looking for a fight with me because that’s gonna mean that they’re gonna make a lot of money. So, that’s up to Top Rank and ESPN, if they wanna make that fight [against Verdejo]. But if it’s up to me, I think I’m looking for bigger names.”
Bob Arum, whose company promotes Lopez and Verdejo, wasn’t as dismissive of matching them as Lopez if Lopez overcomes Lomachenko on Saturday night.
“At 135, there’s some interesting fighters out there [for Lopez],” Arum stated during the same virtual press conference. “There’s Ryan Garcia, who fights under the Golden Boy banner. There’s Devin Haney, who’s with DAZN, but would probably be available. And there are a lot of other guys. Verdejo, I know what Teofimo is saying, but Verdejo, since [he is] under a new trainer, is looking absolutely great now. And he’s a potential opponent. So, it’s all good. And I know Teofimo is looking at it when he wins this fight. But even if he doesn’t win the fight, he’s still a major, major draw, and he can fight any of those guys.”
ESPN will televise Lomachenko-Lopez as the main event of a three-bout broadcast Saturday night from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT). ESPN+ will provide coverage of the Lomachenko-Lopez undercard, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.