By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Teofimo Lopez produced probably what will be voted “Knockout of the Year” on Saturday night.
The elite lightweight prospect knocked Mason Menard unconscious with a perfectly placed right hand that left his opponent face-first on the canvas 40 seconds into their scheduled 10-round bout. Referee Charlie Fitch strangely started counting, but quickly stopped as the motionless Menard obviously wouldn’t have been able to beat the count in the first of three bouts ESPN televised from The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
This 44-second knockout was a spectacular performance from the 21-year-old Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs), who wants promoter Top Rank Inc. to get him a title shot as soon as possible. Lopez promised before his impressive victory that he’ll continue backing up his tough talk and went as far as to say he doesn’t think Vasiliy Lomachenko is “anything special.”
Las Vegas’ Lopez fought on the Lomachenko-Pedraza undercard.
“I knew he was a tough fighter,” Lopez said of Menard. “I knew he could fight. I wanted to test him, and I took a chance early in the fight. I know he trained hard, and he didn’t want it to go that way. But this is ‘The Takeover. The Takeover’ has begun. In 2019, I will be a world champion. That’s a guarantee.”
Lopez showed no ill effects from the surgery he had to repair a fracture in his right hand suffered early in his last fight. The Brooklyn-born boxer hadn’t had any hand problems prior to hurting it on his way to stopping William Silva (26-2, 15 KOs) in the sixth round July 14 at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
Despite that injury, Lopez became the first fighter to beat Brazil’s Silva by knockout for the first time in his 12 years as a pro.
The 30-year-old Menard (34-4, 24 KOs), of Rayne, Louisiana, lost by knockout or technical knockout for the third time as a pro. Former WBO lightweight champ Ray Beltran (35-8-1, 21 KOs, 1 NC) and Devin Haney (20-0, 13 KOs), another top prospect, previously stopped Menard inside the distance.
“We’re in the stage of my career where we can change boxing and bring it back,” Lopez said. “You all haven’t seen anything like me in a long time.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.