Teofimo Lopez is hoping to dive into the deep end of a weight class he has never fought at before.
The former unified lightweight champion is set to return sometime in the late summer for what would be his debut at the junior welterweight division. Arnold Barboza Jr. has been reported to be a frontrunner to face Lopez.
But in a recent interview, Lopez, a native of Brooklyn, suggested that his promoter, Top Rank Inc., may be trying to pair him with promotional stablemate Josh Taylor, the division’s undisputed champion from Scotland.
“We’re trying to make me and Taylor right now for undisputed,” Lopez said on the podcast, The Good Fight with Kate Abdo.
Lopez’s comment was somewhat surprising, given that he has never fought at 140 before. Moreover, it’s not clear how that fight would be made with all the belts on the line given the mandatory obligations of Taylor. The WBA recently held a purse bid for Taylor to fight mandatory challenger Alberto Puello. TGB Promotions, which works exclusively with Premier Boxing Champions, was the only bidder for that fight.
And most recently, the WBC has ordered negotiations to begin between Taylor and their mandatory challenger Jose Zepeda. The WBC will conduct a purse bid if both sides cannot reach a deal by May 24. Zepeda is also promoted by Top Rank.
Lopez, nevertheless, sounded confident, if coy, that a fight with Taylor can be made, citing the words of the “main head,” presumably Top Rank chief Bob Arum.
“It looks like we’re working on some stuff, so we’ll figure it out,” Lopez said. “Don’t hold me accountable to it. I’m hearing from different ends, you know, and the main head told me.”
“You see how God works,” Lopez continued. “If everything goes the way it does – you know, I was shooting for one thing, the WBO belt, but look it, if God works the way he does, I’ll get all of them in one shot again.”
Lopez’s comments follow a recent shuffling of the rankings within the WBO 140-pound division. Originally, Lopez was installed at the No. 2 spot, despite having never fought at 140. That drew the ire of Jack Catterall and Jose Ramirez; Catterall was demoted to the No. 3 spot, while Ramirez dropped to No. 4. Their collective protest was successful. After a review, the WBO announced that they had installed Ramirez at No. 2, behind Australia’s Liam Paro. Lopez now occupies the No. 4 spot.
Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) lost his lightweight titles (WBO, WBA, and IBF, and WBC Franchise) to George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10 KOs) last November at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. After the fight Lopez reportedly had to be hospitalized from complications from asthma, prompting his decision to leave the 135-pound division for good.
Asked how a fight would materialize between him and Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs), when there are other contenders in front of him, Lopez offered a cryptic response.
“They don’t know who they’re talking to, though,” he said. “I’m just letting that ride out. That’s gonna change.”
Despite the fact that he has never fought at 140, Lopez believes his credentials at 135 make him a hot commodity in the division.
“They put me as number two in the WBO rankings because I’m fit for it,” Lopez said of his previously lofty ranking. “I bring the excitement for the 140 division. Who else is? Whether [Ryan] Garcia or anybody else that comes up they have to come see me at 140. That’s me taking over that division.
“None of those guys at 140 have yet to accomplish that goal, yet alone getting three belts or four. I got five (WBA, WBO, WBC Franchise, IBF, and Ring Magazine) at that time. There are levels and there’s things to it.
“I’m still the man.”