By Jake Donovan
Teofimo Lopez has never been one to bite his tongue. That aspect of his game isn’t going away anytime soon, in fact even less of a chance of slowing down as he advances from prospect to contender.
Everyone with a belt in the 130- and 135-pound divisions were the latest targets of his unfiltered thoughts, as Lopze is intent on becoming a world champion in 2019. Reigning unified lightweight titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko has been the most often mentioned, but is just another name to the 21-year old Brooklyn-bred boxer.
“I don’t see any of these guys as blue-chip fighters,” Lopez (12-0, 10KOs) bluntly stated during a recent segment with host Max Kellerman on ESPN’s Max On Boxing. “Don’t get me wrong, these guys paved the way… but there’s so many flaws these guys have.”
Lopez has done an extraordinary job in exploiting even the slightest flaw in all of his 12 opponents to date. The rising young star, who represented Honduras in the 2016 Rio Olympics, capped a 2018 Prospect of the Year campaign with a highlight reel 1st round knockout of Mason Menard on ESPN last December in New York City.
Less than two months later came the rapid ascension to the contender stage. Lopez manhandled two-time title challenger Diego Magdaleno in seven very one-sided rounds this past February in an ESPN+ streamed bout in supporting capacity to Sergey Kovalev’s revenge-fueled in over Eleider Alvarez in their light heavyweight title fight rematch.
Next up for the flame-throwing lightweight is an April 20 appearance at Madison Square Garden, underneath Terence Crawford’s welterweight title defense versus Amir Khan. Opponents are being sought although there is a slim chance of it being for a title.
By then, however, he will have multiple options. Tevin Farmer will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF) 130-pound title versus Jono Carrol in March 15 in Philadelphia, while Lomachenko is mulling his options for April 12 unified title defense in Los Angeles.
Shortly after Lopez’s Garden appearance will come the rescheduled rematch between World Boxing Organization (WBO) super featherweight title claimant Miguel Berchelt and former champ Francisco Vargas.
Anyone of those names could be a future opponent for Lopez, who has the same general view of the entire lot: bait.
“What we’re looking forward to is a world title fight,” Lopez notes. “Who has a world title? Vasiliy Lomachenko has a world title. Richard Commey has a(n IBF) world title. Mikey Garcia has a (World Boxing Council/WBC) world title although he’s fighting at 147 (versus Errol Spence on March 16).
“We’re here to fight the world champions; we’re here to win the world title no matter who it is against.”
For now, Top Rank’s plan seems to be along the lines of steering Lopez towards the WBC belt, regardless of Garcia’s intentions to drop back down to 135 or remain at a higher weight. From there, the promotional goal is a unification clash with Ukraine’s Lomachenko, as Top Rank promotes both fighters.
Lomachenko is regarded alongside Crawford as among the two best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound. It’s not at all an opinion shared by at least one potential future opponent.
“I feel like (Lomachenko) does the same thing when it comes to footwork and moving side-to-side,” Lopez insists of the two-time Olympic Gold medalist and three-division titlist as a pro. “There are three or four different ways of beating Lomachenko.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox