NEW YORK – Teofimo Lopez impressed Sandor Martin with how he handled Pedro Campa in Lopez’s debut at the junior welterweight limit August 13.
Martin reminded Lopez on Thursday, though, that the former lightweight champion will encounter a much more capable 140-pound opponent Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The 29-year-old Martin claims that one of his advantages is that he has competed at or near the junior welterweight maximum throughout his 11-year, 42-fight professional career.
The Brooklyn-born Lopez will experience that difference, according to Martin, when they meet in a 10-round WBC elimination match that ESPN will televise as the main event of a four-fight broadcast (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
“He’s talking about fighting Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor,” Martin told BoxingScene.com through a translator, “but he doesn’t have the driver’s license to be driving at 140 pounds. Things are different here. Fighters are stronger, they’re more complete, they’re faster. He’s not ready for that.”
The Spanish southpaw suspects he’ll look even better when he opposes Lopez than when Martin upset Mikey Garcia in October 2021 because he fought Garcia at a contracted catch weight of 144 pounds. Garcia (40-2, 30 KOs), a four-division champion from Moreno Valley, California, was at one point a 30-1 favorite versus Martin, yet the huge underdog craftily out-boxed Garcia and won a 10-round majority decision at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California.
Las Vegas’ Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) moved up from the lightweight maximum of 135 pounds to the junior welterweight division following his stunning split-decision defeat to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (then 20-0) in November 2021 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Lopez won all six rounds on each scorecard before he dropped and stopped Mexico’s Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs) in the seventh round August 13 at Resorts World Las Vegas.
Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) has won 11 fights in a row since Swedish southpaw Anthony Yigit (then 19-0-1) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder in September 2017 in Solna, Sweden.
The Lopez-Martin winner will become the WBC’s second mandatory challenger for Prograis’ super lightweight title.
In accordance with the WBC’s rules related to fights for vacant championships, the recently crowned Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) must make a mandatory defense against former WBC/WBO champ Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) and, if he wins, meet another obligation by boxing Lopez or Martin. Prograis knocked out Jose Zepeda (36-3, 28 KOs, 2 NC) in the 11th round to win a vacant WBC belt November 26 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“When I fought Mikey Garcia, it was at a catch weight,” Martin said. “I don’t really like fighting in those type of fights because it’s not in my division. I feel best at 140. That’s where I’ve fought and have had good results throughout my entire life. [Lopez is] not used to 140. Although he might think so, boxing at 140 is different from 135 pounds. So yes, I think that will be an important factor in this fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.