NEW YORK – Teofimo Lopez criticized Sandor Martin for “running” during their closely contested, 10-round fight Saturday night.
Lopez himself didn’t run from the burning question that at least temporarily crept into his mind after he fended off Martin by split decision in their main event at Madison Square Garden.
“Bro, do I still have it, man?,” an emotional Lopez asked members of his team in a moment that was picked up by ESPN’s microphones. “Do I still got it?”
The former lightweight champion was reassured in the ring by his handlers that he indeed still has “it,” but Lopez seemingly didn’t defeat Martin by the comfortable margins indicated on two of the judges’ scorecards.
Quebec-based judge Pasquale Procopio oddly scored eight of the 10 rounds for Lopez, who won 97-92 on his scorecard because Lopez suffered a flash knockdown early in the second round. California’s Max De Luca scored seven rounds for Lopez (96-93), but Italy’s Guido Cavalleri scored Martin a 95-94 winner.
Referee Ricky Gonzalez could’ve counted another knockdown for Martin (40-3, 13 KOs) early in the seventh round, but he ruled that the Spanish southpaw’s right hook cupped Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) behind his head. A second knockdown still wouldn’t have made a difference on the cards of Procopio or De Luca.
CompuBox, meanwhile, unofficially credited Lopez for landing 20 more punches overall than Martin (97-of-391 to 77-of-244). According to CompuBox’s count, Lopez connected on 31 more power punches (76-of-220 to 45-of-119), whereas Martin managed to land 11 more jabs (32-of-125 to 21-of-171).
The 25-year-old Lopez positioned himself to fight the winner of a mandated title bout between newly crowned WBC super lightweight champion Regis Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) and former WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs). The Brooklyn-born Lopez became the WBC’s second mandatory challenger, behind Ramirez, by beating Martin in their elimination match.
Nevertheless, the typically confident Lopez’s comments came as a surprise after what the 140-pound contender told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna during his post-fight interview in the ring.
“It’s so hard to fight somebody like this, when they’re running the whole time,” Lopez told Osuna. “Every time this guy committed, I countered and got him every time. He just ran the whole time. It’s OK, though. We got a lot to work on. But first off, I want to thank God for this, no matter what it was. I apologize to everybody tonight. This is not how we perform. But listen, our dance partner was running the whole time. … Every time that this man wanted to commit, I was countering him and tagging him. That’s why he was running the whole time.”
Lopez did not attend a post-fight press conference early Sunday morning, nor did Martin.
Lopez, who entered the ring as a 7-1 favorite according to most sportsbooks, has won back-to-back bouts at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds. He moved up from the lightweight maximum of 135 following his stunning split-decision defeat to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (then 20-0) in November 2021 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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