By Francisco Salazar
Teofimo Lopez is going all in on his ‘Takeover’ of the lightweight division.
Instead of it being used as a hashtag on social media, Lopez is adamant the takeover will happen and it is only a matter of time before all the world title belts are his.
Lopez will attempt to impress again Saturday night when he squares off against Mason Menard inside the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The 10-round bout will open the ESPN telecast (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
Lopez (10-0, 8 knockouts) last fought on July 14, dropping fringe contender William Silva three times en route to a sixth-round knockout victory. Lopez spent time away from the ring to recuperate from an injury to his right hand.
The 21-year-old Lopez may be young and brash, but he has a crowd-pleasing style and has backed up his words in the ring. His post-fight celebrations in the ring mimicking Fortnite dances have garnered attention as well.
Menard might provide a decent test for Lopez, but the Louisiana fighter has split his last four fights, with both losses ending in knockout.
Lopez believes he will make quick of Menard.
“He’s a fighter that comes forward and has his hands up,” Lopez told BoxingScene over the phone. “I don’t look at (his knockout) loss to (Devin) Haney. I’m going in there to put together explosive shots that will lead to a knockout.”
A victory over Menard could put Lopez into contender status. Lopez believes he is ready to face the top fighters in the division, but Top Rank might have the last say in how soon they rush Lopez and put him in against elite opposition.
Some prospects or unbeaten fighters may avoid facing difficult opposition, but Lopez is eager to face the best the lightweight division has to offer.
“The ‘Takeover’ means overcoming everything and taking over the show,” said Lopez, who represented Honduras in 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I want to take over the champions at 135 pounds. The ‘Takeover’ is everything with me in it. I want to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko, Jose Pedraza, and Mikey Garcia.”
Lopez is one of Top Rank’s touted prospects. Promoter Bob Arum admitted to not knowing who Lopez was until the day Top Rank signed him to a promotional contract.
Lopez has proven he is the goods thus far, despite not having the same fanfare as Michael Conlan. He is making the most of the opportunities, including opening up an ESPN telecast moments after the Heisman Trophy is announced on the same network.
“I thank God for these opportunities to show fans what I’m capable of. I take the spotlight and I want to keep it. I want to continue making my dreams into a reality.”
“Boxing has made me who I am and it’s a good reason of how I am as well.”
As far as post-fight theatrics, what kind of performance will Lopez put on should he follow through on his word of a knockout of Menard?
“It will be something different, but it’ll be explosive like the knockout.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing