Philippines, 24 Oct 2020
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Is Teofimo Lopez Ready for Lomachenko?

The year was 2006. Joe Calzaghe was the reigning WBO super middleweight champion (168lbs) at 40-0 and was considered the best in the division by many boxing experts and fans. Jeff Lacy was a 2000 Olympian who did not win a medal in the games, but like many fighters who came up short in the Olympics, was projected at doing better as a professional fighter.

Lacy’s Promoter was Gary Shaw who had previously worked with Main Events which was headed by the late Dan Duva and his wife Kathy Duva. That Promotional outfit was a major player as they promoted great fighters like Ray Leonard, Holyfield, Whitaker, etc. Shaw now with his own Promotional Company knew what he was doing to get fighters to the top of the boxing world.

Shaw represented Lacy as his Promoter. Lacy had spectacular power and had an “Atlas” bodybuilder type physique. Lacy’s first 17 opponents where the usual type of fighters that “hot prospects” are matched up against. “Journey men”, “gate keepers” and “punching bags” with poor records. Lacy did his job. Seventeen of the 21 fighters were in the knockout column of Lacy’s win record (21-0, 17KOs, 1 no contest). Lacy did fight a couple of decent fighters (Reid, Sheika) along the way to his big dance with Calzaghe.

Lacy relied on his punching power and never developed his boxing skills. Fans and experts believed Lacy could hurt Calzaghe and knock him out. Calzaghe was heard in his corner during their fight saying expletives about what he thought of Lacy’s punching power. Calzaghe totally outclassed Lacy in a unanimous decision win which Lacy’s own Promoter was seen in the crowd imploring the Referee to stop the fight so Lacy would not receive more punishment. Lacy admitted after the fight he needed to work on his boxing skills. Calzaghe retired in 2008 as an undefeated great fighter who has stayed in retirement and Lacy was exposed as an overhyped fighter with a good punch. After the Calzaghe loss, Lacy’s record was 6-5 and he retired in 2015.

This upcoming Saturday, Vasyl Lomachenko (Loma) who’s record stands at 14-1, 10KOs, defends and attempts to unify his titles (WBA super, WBO, and WBC) against Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12KOs), the newly crowned IBF lightweight champion at 135lbs.

Lomachenko is from the Ukraine. He had an amateur boxing record of 396-1. Notably he has 2 Olympic gold medals, 2 World championships, and the list goes on with more accomplishments. Loma fought for a world title in his second fight and lost a split decision to Orlando Salido, an excellent former world champion. This writer scored the fight for Loma.

Loma won a world title (126lbs) in his third professional fight beating Gary Russell Jr. 3 months later. Loma would seek out more challenges as he defeated the best fighters in his division and won titles in two other divisions (130 lbs and 135 lbs). Loma is a truly gifted great fighter. He is number 3 on this writer’s “pound for pound” best fighter list.

Only 2 fighters thus far that have presented challenges to Loma are Salido and Jorge Linares. Salido was a world champion and it was Loma's 2nd professional fight and future Hall of Famer. Jorge Linares was already a former three division champion who was able to score a knockdown over Loma. Linares pushed Loma’s skill level like no other fighter has, in this writer’s opinion.

In the Linares fight, Loma showed that he is not invincible. Since then Loma has unified his title by adding two more titles and now wants Lopez’s IBF title. Can Lopez finish or pick up where Linares left off? Meaning, can Lopez land his power shots on Loma? If Lopez lands his shot against Loma, is that enough for Lopez to win? That was the question Lacy had when he fought Calzaghe.

Who is Teofimo Lopez Jr.?

Lopez is a former National Golden Gloves Champion. He represented Honduras in the 2016 Olympics. His amateur record was 150-20. He is represented by the promotional company Top Rank as is Loma. Top Rank has done their job well. Lopez has won all his 14 fights that the company has presented him. Top Rank got him a title shot against a belt holder named Richard Commey. Lopez knocked him out in 2 rounds. Rather than make a couple defenses and gain experience and some good money, Lopez calls out (challenges) Loma for “all the marbles” (undisputed title – WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, Lineal).

Reports are Lopez is a big lightweight and will soon move up to 140lbs after the Loma fight. Reports are after the official weigh-in, on fight night he may rehydrate to as high as 150lbs. Welterweight, which is a division champion's Errol Spence (IBF/WBC), Manny Pacquiao (WBA super), Terrance Crawford (WBO) fight in is 147lbs.

Reports are Heavyweight (201lbs and more) fighters in in Lopez camp have commented Lopez hit as hard as a heavyweight. Too much information by Lopez camp! Loma’s first world title was at 126lbs. Lopez is naturally the bigger man. So If Lopez were to knock out Loma in the first round that takes away from his victory. Lopez is the stronger fighter and Loma is clearly the more talented skilled fighter. Who wins on Saturday night?

Loma like the late Pernell Whitaker must use his excellent defensive skills and good foot work but must also fight smart (stiff jabs, combinations, and make his punches count) when the time comes to earn Lopez's respect and frustrate Lopez to throw him off his game plan, which will likely be to try and overwhelm and walk through Loma for a brutal KO like he did to Commey.

That will cause Lopez to leave openings so Loma can score and get a late round stoppage or unanimous decision. Lopez can be compared to the the star baseball slugger (homerun hitter) who has finally made it to the baseball World Series with bases loaded, 2 outs, full count, bottom of the 9th inning score 3-0 in the opposing teams favor, and everyone knows the Slugger will be swinging for the fences because that’s their only hope. The winner of this fight will be the fighter who will be able to impose his will on the other fighter. This could be a great match. This writer picks Lomachenko by unanimous decision.

Boxing Notes

Oscar De La Hoya announced back in August (2020) that he was coming out of retirement to fight a “top guy” in the 154lbs or 160lbs division. In 2016 Mayweather offered him a rematch which he refused. Many would have loved to see a Mayweather-De La Hoya rematch as De La Hoya lost a split decision and it would have been a commercial success. In 2020, the two top guys at 154lbs are Charlo after he impressively defeated Reyes and now holds (WBC, WBA, IBF) 3 titles. The other top guy at 154lbs is WBO champ Patrick Teixiera, who is a fighter that Oscar promotes through his company, Golden Boy. A fight between Oscar and Jermell Charlo is not likely because he is under promotional company PBC and difficult to make because there are different Promoters. At 160lbs Charlo’s brother Jermall (WBC), Gennady Golovkin (IBF), Canelo (WBC franchise champion, WBA super), Demetrius Andrade (WBO), Ryota Murata (WBA) are in the “top guy” category. Again, Oscar could easily make a fight with Canelo because he is Canelo’s Promoter and Canelo has been unhappy with Oscar and DAZN which led to a legal action. Charlo is with PBC, and Murata with Top Rank, and Andrade and Golovkin are with Matchroom/DAZN. A fight with Andrade or Golovkin could also be made with Andrade’s Promoter, Eddie Hearn as he appears to like to make “big fights” and more willing to work with rival Promoters. The other fights would be difficult to make. A fight with any of these 5 would be tough. Interested to see who Oscar will choose if he in fact does come out of retirement…. David Benavidez (23-0, 20KOs) is undefeated and once again the former WBC 168lbs champion. The WBC 168lbs title is now vacant. His last opponent, Roamer was eligible to win the title, but he was knocked out by Benavidez last August. Benavidez was stripped of the title back in 2018 for a positive drug test and served a 4-month suspension. Benavidez failed to make weight (168lbs) weighing officially at 170.8 before his defense of the title against Roamer Angulo and was stripped of the title before the fight. The WBO light heavyweight title (175lbs) is vacant. Benavidez could become a 2x champion if he moved up to 175lbs and wins the vacant title. If a match at 168lbs with Canelo is Benavidez’s goal, he can always come back down to 168lbs or meet Canelo at a catch weight if he should ever get the call to fight from the Canelo camp. In addition, there are good fights at 175lbs such as WBO former 168lb champion Gilberto Ramirez, or WBA “regular” champion Jean Pascal of Canada. Then you have the monsters of the division such as unified IBF/WBC champion Artur Beterbiev and WBA Champ Dmitry Bivol…Yordenis Ugas finally is a world champ (WBA “regular” welterweight champion) after defeating Abel Ramos. This writer gives lot of credit to Ugas. After a successful amateur career that culminated in a bronze medal in 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he came to the US in 2010. His career has seen up and downs. He has had 30 professional fights losing 4 bouts. His 4th loss was a controversial one for the WBC welterweight title against Shawn Porter. It was no surprise many, (including this writer) held our breaths when the close scoring was announced at the end of his fight with Ramos that rightfully went in his Ugas favor. Great example of perseverance by Ugas to accomplish a goal of winning a world title …Covid19 also known as Corona Virus has sadly taken many lives. Hopefully, an effective vaccine will surface. The sports world has been greatly affected. I have noticed that during the pandemic many top fighters are now calling out other top fighters they were not calling out before the Pandemic. I hope that does not change when the Pandemic has passed, whenever that is. In the same manner that potential homeowners lock in a mortgage rate before they purchase a house, why not lock up the “Big fights” fans want to see now with signed contracts? Sign the “Big fights” now during the pandemic and when Health Authorities have deemed it safe for large assembly of people to gather, we can look forward to the big fights!

Contact Writer:

***Ralph Rimpell is a writer based out of New York and is a Boxing Correspondent for Ralph holds an undergraduate degree from City University of New York. He has been a Boxing Writer for over ten years having written for several top boxing websites on the World Wide Web. Before becoming a writer, Ralph's passion was for professional wrestling until he realized professional wrestling was entertainment and not a real sport. It was at that time the 1984 US Olympic team made up of future stars such as Evander Holyfield, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, etc. entered the professional ranks and signed with promotional outfit Main Events.It was also at that time a young exciting Heavyweight originally hailing from Brooklyn named Mike Tyson also turned professional and became the face of boxing. Young boxing fan Ralph just couldn't get enough of boxing as a large part of it was being broadcast on "free TV". As time went on, Ralph felt boxing writers were not being forthcoming with their boxing coverage, opinion pieces, interviews, etc. So Ralph decided to write an article and submitted it to a Boxing website thinking it would be deleted and ignored by the Editor. To Ralph's surprise his article was posted on their website and the readers embraced it. The rest is history.

"I thank God for the Internet because it has created opportunities for writers like myself who likely would not have been given an opportunity to write for print publications. I hope someday soon to expand my role in Boxing on different levels." -- Ralph Rimpell

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Ralph Rimpell.

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