LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez anticipates hearing virtually every excuse imaginable when he beats Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday night.
That’s to be expected, Lopez explained, when he shocks skeptics by beating Lomachenko, who is listed as a 4-1 favorite in their lightweight title unification fight.
“Man, they’re gonna use every excuse in the book,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “I was too big. That wasn’t his weight class. He’s getting too old. He’s not in his prime. ‘If Teofimo would’ve fought him in his prime, it would’ve been different.’ I mean, they’re gonna use all those excuses, so I don’t give a sh*t. People are gonna talk, and I don’t care. Let ‘em. … I don’t care about that, man. They’re gonna talk. You know, people are gonna talk because they’re just mad that we’re doing it.”
Lomachenko himself has dismissed talk of him being “old” at the age of 32. Brooklyn’s Lopez is nine years younger than Lomachenko, but both lightweight champions have just 15 fights on their professional records.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko has, however, discussed the possibility of moving back down to the junior lightweight division after opposing Lopez. Lomachenko is 4-0 since he gave up the WBO 130-pound crown early in 2018 to move up to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds.
The three-division champion’s lightweight debut was very competitive, until he stopped Jorge Linares with a perfectly placed body shot in the 10th round in May 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Venezuela’s Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) knocked Lomachenko to the canvas with a right hand late in the sixth round of that bout and was ahead on one scorecard entering the 10th round (86-84, 85-85, 84-86).
The two-time Olympic gold medalist still is commonly considered at least one of the top three boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport. That’s why Lopez won’t tolerate doubters downplaying what clearly would be the biggest victory of his four-year pro career.
“They’re gonna try to downsize the fact that, you know, at 23, I’m going to become undisputed world champion,” Lopez said, “and be the fifth one in this era. It’s great, man. I’m just honored for it, and I know that with the law of attraction, I believe everything is gonna happen the way it needs to.”
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) will meet in a main event ESPN will televise from MGM Grand Conference Center (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT). They’ll fight for Lopez’s IBF belt and Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO titles, as well as his WBC franchise championship.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.