By Francisco Salazar
Teofimo Lopez has demonstrated a mean streak with his fists and his mouth thus far as a pro. And nothing is going to change the more he continues winning impressively.
Lopez has put together dominating performances or quick knockout victories, all the while attempting to convince those that he is the next big thing in the sport.
An impressive performance tonight may go a long way, and it will bring about more colorful anecdotes from Lopez as well.
The undefeated lightweight will square off against William Silva tonight at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 10 round bout will precede the 12 round junior welterweight bout between Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco.
Both fights will air live on ESPN (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).
Lopez (9-0, 7 knockouts) has been fighting as a pro for less than two years and has already generated a buzz amongst boxing fans, both for his aggressive, fan-friendly style in the ring and his gift of gab.
The 20-year-old Lopez is coming off a first round knockout victory over Brazil's Vitor Jones Freitas on May 12 in New York City. He will face another Brazilian tonight in Silva, who is best known for losing a 10 round decision to Felix Verdejo in February of 2016.
Silva has about three times as many fights as Lopez and figures to be a tough assignment, but the young Lopez believes he will come out victorious tonight.
"This is a good fight for me," Lopez told BoxingScene.com over the phone on Thursday. "(Silva) knows what is up. He knows what's coming to him tonight. He's going to make me look good in (the ring)."
It is a brash statement, but if statements like that from Lopez are familiar over recent months, it is because he believes his own hype. Lopez has gone as far as saying he will become the best lightweight in boxing in a year's time and that Vasiliy Lomachenko, who holds a world title belt in the division, is 'in the way' of him becoming that.
Lopez has self-confidence, but to some, it could be interpreted as arrogant or cocky. Lopez just believes no one is at his level and he is only going to get better as a pro.
"There is no smoke and mirrors with me," said Lopez, who represented Honduras in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "I can do everything. I believe I'm the best fighter, but people are going to say that I'm overconfident. I never get a fair shake. I like being me and who I represent and what I am going to accomplish as a pro."
Lopez does take solace and pride in knowing the impact he makes out of the ring with young teenagers, who box or in those who live in his neighborhood.
"I'm two different types of people. I am who I am in the ring, but I have another person outside of it. I impact everyone around me, including young kids. They impact me the most and I want to be one of the best role models for them."
One thing that has had an impact on Lopez is post-fight celebrations. In his last fight against Freitas, Lopez did a backflip after paying homage to Fortnite, the popular video game.
Lopez told BoxingScene a post-fight celebration will take place after what he presumes will be a knockout victory over Silva.
"I'm not going to give away what I'll do after the fight, but it'll be unique and different (from the Freitas fight). I will be doing this after every fight. You're going to have to watch Saturday night what I'm going to do."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene.com 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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing