FLEMINGTON, New Jersey – Teofimo Lopez didn’t think twice about accepting Sandor Martin as Jose Pedraza’s replacement on barely three weeks’ notice.
His handlers picked Pedraza over Martin initially for his fight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, but Lopez was more than willing to face the fighter that upset Mikey Garcia in October 2021 and sent the four-division champion into retirement. It didn’t matter, either, that Spain’s Martin is a southpaw, whereas Pedraza is a right-handed boxer who sometimes switches to a left-handed stance.
“I’m great with southpaws,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “I love southpaws. I mean, you guys have seen it with Lomachenko and you guys have seen it with Diego Magdaleno. So, with Sandor Martin, I’m looking forward to doing that and worse because you know why? This guy’s talking a lot of smack. He’s really believing his own hype. So, this is good work for us. This is great. I love guys that talk that sh*t, so we can shut ‘em up. He’s saying he’s gonna whoop my ass and he’s gonna have a fun night that night, and other things on top of that. So, he’s really talking his sh*t.”
The 25-year-old Lopez produced the most meaningful win of his career when he out-boxed Lomachenko and beat the three-division champion by unanimous decision in October 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Four bouts before he challenged Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) for the Ukrainian southpaw’s lightweight titles, Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) dominated the left-handed Magdaleno (32-4, 13 KOs) and viciously knocked out the veteran lightweight in the seventh round of their February 2019 bout at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Barcelona’s Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) has won 11 consecutive fights since Sweden’s Anthony Yigit (then 19-0-1) out-pointed him unanimously in a 12-rounder that occurred in September 2017 in Solna, Sweden. Most sportsbooks list Lopez as at least a 7-1 favorite in an advance of a 10-round, 140-pound WBC eliminator ESPN will air as the main event of a four-fight broadcast set to start at 9 p.m. ET.
“Obviously, I wasn’t intrigued by fighting Pedraza,” Lopez said. “But whoever they put in front of me, we know we’ve gotta beat him because there ain’t no way they’re taking everything ‘The Takeover’ is trying to do. We don’t overlook anybody. We know that Sandor Martin is gonna come out there looking for another upset. We know he’s looking forward to upsetting me here in my hometown, New York City, Madison Square Garden. This guy has a huge opportunity, just as much as I do.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.