Teofimo Lopez’s opinion of a fight versus Devin Haney has changed in recent weeks.
The undefeated, unified lightweight champion now wants to face Haney more than any other 135-pound opponent. Brooklyn’s Lopez would love to make fights against Gervonta Davis or Ryan Garcia, but the 23-year-old champion doesn’t think either boxer would agree to face him.
Lopez recognizes that he’ll likely have to make a mandatory defense of his IBF belt against Australia’s George Kambosos before he can seriously entertain the Haney bout. He sees no reason, however, why they can’t fight after he beats Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs), who would be a huge underdog if he opposes Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs).
Lopez expressed his thoughts on boxing Kambosos and Haney during an interview Monday on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams Monday through Friday on DAZN and SiriusXM.
“We’re talking about it right now,” Lopez told co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes regarding the Kambosos bout. “Is it a fight that I want? No. What I want is Devin. Who I want is Devin. So, I told ‘em if things go south with Kambosos, which it may look like that’s probably what’s gonna happen, I already spoke with my manager [David McWater] and [promoter] Bob [Arum]. So, what we talked about is that if this doesn’t go through, the next guy I want is Devin. So, he’ll be getting something. We’re already gonna be talking to Eddie Hearn about it as well.”
The ever-confident Lopez previously considered Haney an opponent he’d fight for bragging rights, yet little else. He has taken offense, though, to Haney’s trash talk and wants to prove that he, not Haney, is the legitimate WBC lightweight champ.
Las Vegas’ Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) is the WBC world lightweight champion. Lopez is the WBC’s franchise champ because he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), who was designated its franchise champion after beating England’s Luke Campbell to win the then-vacant WBC world lightweight title in August 2019.
“Talking too much sh-t,” Lopez said of Haney. “I can’t do it. I gotta give it to him. I gotta give him that work, man. I gotta press him. And that’s all, man. That’s just really it, man. I’m the type of person that I have a lot of pride and my ego gets in the way sometimes. So, if Kambosos doesn’t get involved with the whole mandatory, if the thing falls – like I said, since he’s my mandatory, that’s the only reason why we’re still talking about Kambosos. But we’re already in talks – this week we’re gonna be talking to Eddie Hearn. And like I said, man, let’s see what happens from there.”
Haney has repeatedly emphasized that Lopez cannot consider himself the undisputed lightweight champion because Haney is the true WBC lightweight champ.
The 23-year-old Haney stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs) after four rounds to win the WBC interim lightweight title two weeks after Lomachenko beat Campbell and later was elevated to world champion. He has defended his title twice, both times against big underdogs in Alfredo Santiago (13-1, 5 KOs) and Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs).
“I think it got to the point where I’m just fed up,” Lopez said. “Me and my pops, we’re fed up. And I just said, ‘Man, let’s press this dude. I don’t care what it’s gotta take.’ You know, I’m gonna respect the fact that Kambosos is my mandatory. We’re gonna work on that part, because I’ve gotta get that part first. But if things go south, like I said, man, Devin, be ready, my man, because I’m gonna f--k you up! Straight up!”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.