Teofimo Lopez Jr. can officially move forward with the next stage of his career.
The main question is who will land in the opposite corner for his next adventure.
A successful night came from Lopez’s full-fledged junior welterweight debut after scoring a seventh-round stoppage of Mexico’s Pedro Campa in his August 13 ring return. The ESPN-televised bout was his first since suffering his lone defeat and the end of his lightweight championship reign following a split decision loss to George Kambosos Jr. last November 27 at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City.
Saturday’s win over Campa saw the 25-year-old Brooklyn native fight at a measured but confident pace before picking up steam and eventually closing the show at Resorts World Casino in Las Vegas.
With the new weight comes a new set of challenges that Lopez (17-1, 13KOs) plans to pursue.
“We want Josh Taylor. We want these guys,” Lopez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna after the win. “We want [Regis] Prograis. We want [Jose] Zepeda. We want all the belts. We want to become two-time [world] champion.”
“I was at 135 pounds for nine years,” “It was killing my body, since I was a teenage kid, man.”
Scotland’s Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) holds the lineal/IBF/WBO championship, while Prograis and Zepeda have been ordered to enter talks for the WBC title recently vacated by Taylor.
In addition to Zepeda-Prograis already being under discussion, a fight with Taylor seems an unlikely next option for Lopez. Taylor was previously eyeing a rematch with England’s Jack Catterall, against whom he barely edged via controversial split decision on February 26 in Glasgow. Before he can do that, however, he has to square away the dilemma of an ordered IBF title defense versus mandatory challenger Jeremias Ponce which is now the subject of an August 23 purse bid hearing.
“We’ve been at 135 for about nine years. It was killing my body since I was a teenage kid,” noted Lopez. “I just turned 25. I am grateful for the return. I told you all, don’t call this a comeback. This is the Takeover’s takeover.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox