Teofimo Lopez continues to double down on the insistence that his next fight will come against Vasiliy Lomachenko and in front of a rabid crowd.
Obviously, such a scenario could take months to play out given the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis. There has not been a televised stateside boxing event since March 13, nor will even closed-door studio shows begin to roll out until June at the earliest.
Major fights will take even longer to make their way to the schedule, a scenario with which the unbeaten lightweight titlist has long ago come to grips. So much that he’s not even on board with entertaining a low-level stay-busy fight even if it means a lengthy layoff ahead of the biggest challenge of his career.
“I spoke with Bob, my father and I we spoke with him a couple of days ago. Pretty much, he wants me to fight again without the fans and really hoping I’d say yes to it,” Lopez (15-0, 12KOs) told hosts Steve Kim and Mario Lopez during the most recent edition of The 3 Knockdown Rule podcast. “I explained to him why I wouldn’t, because of my health conditions. But I did tell him, if everything goes smooth with fighters fighting without the fans and everything going smooth with nobody catching the coronavirus, then we can talk about maybe us fighting.
“He does not want the Lomachenko fight to happen with myself, without the fans. He does want the fans to be there in attendance. That fight with Loma isn’t going to happen… until all this is over with. Until the coronavirus dies out and we can bring all the fans out and everything like that. That’s gonna be one of number one fights he definitely wants already on the radar. He wants to start off (with this fight) and have it ready.”
Lopez has been out of the ring since obliterating Richard Commey in two rounds to win the International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight title last December. He and his wife have since relocated from their Brooklyn home to his sister-in-law’s house in Jonesboro, Arkansas at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The 22-year old boxer battles with asthma, not to the point where it affects his career but which would have put him at risk in New York, which has more than 300,000 positive test cases as of May 1.
Given his health condition, the idea of returning to the ring any sooner than absolutely necessary is a non-starter. So, too, is the idea of fighting anyone other than Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10KOs)—who holds the WBO and WBA titles—in his next ring appearance—although the sense he gets is that his enthusiasm isn’t quite shared by all involved parties.
“I’m gonna tell you some sh-t that I know, that he’s being a bitch about,” insists Lopez. “Loma wants to have a tune-up fight. So now, Top Rank wants me to have a tune-up fight as well because this guy wants a tune-up fight. It’s like… like, eff that! You know what I mean, f--k that!
“I’m not trying to have a tune-up fight. My tune-up fight is going to be with (Lomachenko), there’s no other way around it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox