By Keith Idec
It takes about 10 seconds to watch or listen to Teofimo Lopez to realize confidence isn’t at all an issue for this elite lightweight prospect.
Lopez is just 20, yet expects to become a 135-pound world champion sometime within the next year, before his 22nd birthday. Then he intends to “clean out” the lightweight division, including one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the sport.
“I’m 20 now,” Lopez said during an open workout Wednesday in New Orleans. “I’ll be a world champion by 21. Then I’m going to clean out the 135-pound division. And yeah, I know Vasiliy Lomachenko is in my way.”
Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs), a Las Vegas resident who was raised in Davie, Florida, has his first 10-round fight scheduled for Saturday night. He’ll battle Brazil’s William Silva (25-1, 14 KOs) in a bout ESPN will televise from Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
“This is my last fight as a 20-year-old,” said Lopez, who’ll turn 21 on July 30. “And I know that I’m going to put on another great show. ‘The Takeover’ is real, ladies and gentlemen. The dude I’m fighting has never been knocked out, but he’s never seen anyone like me. I just can’t wait for Saturday night, and I have a bunch of tricks up my sleeve that nobody has seen.”
Silva, 31, has lost only to Felix Verdejo. Puerto Rico’s Verdejo (23-1, 15 KOs) beat Silva by unanimous decision in a 10-round lightweight fight in February 2016 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“I feel great,” Silva said. “Teofimo was a great amateur and an Olympian [for Honduras], but this is the pro game. The pros are a different animal. In the ring, there ain’t no underdog. It’s whoever has the will and the skills. When you’re in the ring, you show your skills.”
The Lopez-Silva fight will open ESPN’s doubleheader Saturday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. In the main event, New Orleans native Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) will defend his WBC interim super lightweight title against Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs).
Once the Prograis-Velasco fight ends, the action will shift to ESPN+ for another two-bout broadcast that’ll feature Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao. In that main event, Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) will defend his WBA world welterweight title against Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.