LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez can’t fathom anyone legitimately arguing against recognizing the winner of his bout versus Vasiliy Lomachenko as boxing’s undisputed lightweight champion.
They’ll fight Saturday night for Lopez’s IBF championship and Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO belts. Lomachenko’s WBC franchise championship also will be at stake, despite that the franchise designation was not supposed to be transferable when the WBC initially named Canelo Alvarez its franchise middleweight champ in June 2019.
Nevertheless, Lopez stressed that Lomachenko legitimately won the WBC lightweight title when he out-pointed England’s Luke Campbell by unanimous decision in his last fight, a 12-rounder 13½ months ago at O2 Arena in London. Less than two weeks following Lomachenko’s victory over Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs), Devin Haney stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs) following the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
The WBC elevated Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) from interim title-holder to world champion once it designated Lomachenko as its franchise champ in the 135-pound division.
Lopez feels anyone, Haney included, that wouldn’t consider him the true WBC lightweight champ after defeating Lomachenko needs “a reality check.” Brooklyn’s Lopez feels he’ll “absolutely” have earned that distinction by beating Lomachenko on Saturday night at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).
“At the moment, right now, my main focus is this fight,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. ‘But I know that’s definitely gonna be brought up after we win, God willing. I know that with all the hard work we’re putting in, with the way I am, the way I think, you know, I know that after this win they’re gonna be like, ‘You’re not undisputed! Devin Haney’s the world champion!’
“And that’s gonna be fine. Then we’ll face him, too. But as of right now, my main priority right now is Vasiliy Lomachenko. That’s where I’m at right now. And when that time comes, and they’re willing to take that fight, so be it. I’m more than excited to do that. I’d love to beat the two-time email world champion.”
By deeming Haney an “email world champion,” Lopez meant Haney didn’t earn his WBC belt in the ring because he defeated the unproven Abdullaev for a vacant version of it. Las Vegas’ Haney is scheduled to defend his WBC championship against Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) on November 7 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Lopez pointed out that his showdown with Lomachenko is a much more meaningful fight.
“They’re putting the WBC franchise championship on the line, which is a WBC belt,” Lopez said. “Everybody knows that when Loma fought Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC championship, he won. They elevated Loma to make this fight happen. It’s a bigger fight than having Devin Haney and Lomachenko. And it’s no disrespect towards Devin Haney, who’s a tremendous fighter. It’s just that right now, it’s not your time. This is a bigger fight. And you don’t draw as much as you may think you do.
“So, in order to make this fight happen and not have Loma face Devin, they upped him to franchise world champion, to make this fight happen. So, I believe that in my rightful mind, which is the truth, and I’m just stating facts here, this fight is for all the belts, including The Ring magazine belt. It’s for all five belts. I’m gonna have to call TSA and let them know, because I’m gonna be packing a lot of stuff for when I’m going back home.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.