Rolando Romero and Teofimo Lopez are friends.
That isn’t the only reason, though, that Romero expects Lopez to knock out Vasiliy Lomachenko. Romero has spent plenty of time sparring against Lopez in Las Vegas, where the lightweight prospect developed a healthy respect for Lopez’s skills.
The 24-year-old Romero is fully focused for now on his own 12-round fight against Jackson Marinez on Saturday night. He also is looking forward to watching Lopez battle Lomachenko in a lightweight title unification fight that is expected to take place October 17 in Las Vegas.
“Teofimo will knock him out with a right hand in the middle rounds,” Romero predicted to BoxingScene.com.
It’s not simply power, according to Romero, that’ll enable Lopez to become the first fighter to stop the highly skilled Ukrainian southpaw inside the distance.
“It’s not the power,” Romero explained. “It’s just that he’s very accurate and very fast. The accuracy alone is what makes things very complicated. He’s a very fast fighter and, like I said, Lomachenko is gonna get knocked out with the same right hand that Linares dropped him with.”
Jorge Linares’ straight right hand knocked down Lomachenko with 31 seconds to go in the sixth round of their lightweight title unification fight in May 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lomachenko quickly got up from that knockdown and kept away from the dangerous Venezuelan until the end of that round. Down on one scorecard and even on another, Lomachenko snuck in a perfectly placed left hook to the body in the 10th round and stopped Linares (47-5, 29 KOs).
If they come to an agreement, the 32-year-old Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and the 23-year-old Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) would fight for Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO 135-pound championships and the IBF belt Brooklyn’s Lopez owns. Lomachenko also is the WBC’s “franchise” lightweight champion, though that designation cannot be transferred, according to WBC rules, if a franchise champion loses.
Nevertheless, Las Vegas’ Romero realizes that beating Lomachenko would change Lopez’s life. Lomachenko is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a three-division champion who is commonly considered one of the top three boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
“I’d truly be happy for him,” Romero said. “He deserves whatever’s coming to him. He deserves the entire world that’s coming to him. He’s worked hard. He’s had a tough life. He deserves everything that’s coming to him. He’s gonna win those belts against Lomachenko. If they fight, he’ll beat Lomachenko and he’s gonna be a star.”
The heavy-handed Romero (11-0, 10 KOs) is scheduled to meet the Dominican Republic’s Marinez (19-0, 7 KOs) for the WBA interim lightweight title Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Showtime will air Romero-Marinez as part of a tripleheader that’ll start at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
In the 12-round main event Saturday night, Phoenix’s David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) will face Colombia’s Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs). The telecast will begin with a 10-round heavyweight bout, which will pit Sweden’s Otto Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs, 1 NC) versus Travis Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs, 1 NC), of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.