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Teofimo Lopez’s ‘Takeover’ continues

Lightweight Teofimo Lopez. Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
18
Dec

Certified young gun Teofimo Lopez hit the Everlast Talkbox headquarters and the Brooklyn-born hitter, who makes Las Vegas home, showed himself to be out of the ring much like he’s shown to be in the ring.

Sharp…confident.

Cocky, maybe at times, but, so far, he’s been cashing the checks his mouth has been writing.

The battler, signed to Top Rank, talked about his latest triumph, which saw Mason Menard succumb to a fearsome onslaught from the 135-pounder on December 8. Perhaps “succumb” isn’t the right word…This was a takedown from “The Takeover” dude and the face-plant fist bomb became top contender for “KO of the Year.”

I saw Lopez blast out the loser from ringside, so I asked, does he feel fear that he might really hurt someone?

“Honestly I’m just zoned out, doing what I have to do. I’m in there fighting…I don’t fear for the man. Whatever happens after, when everything’s done, when we come out victorious, I worry for them,” said Lopez, age 21.

He told us he saw Menard after the scrap and they even posed for a picture together. “He was a good sport,” the victor said.

Lightweight Teofimo Lopez celebrates after notching an eye-catching knockout victory over Mason Menard.

Lightweight Teofimo Lopez celebrates after notching an eye-catching knockout victory over Mason Menard.

Teofimo’s pop, Junior Lopez, also joined his son. He is a high-intensity type and he made it clear that he thinks the world of his son. Some history on where he came from: Junior told us he dug karate movies. He’d watch Bruce Lee films on 42nd Street and he’d pick up tips from the Far East master. His mom worked at a soap factory and, every three months or so, she and her boys would go splurge on a movie and dinner out, at Tad’s Steaks.

The son called his dad a “visionary,” someone who picks up intuitively on things in a manner others can’t…and they play out as predicted.

And a fighting spirit…Dad had it. He’d not be afraid to fight, two, three guys at a time. It was the late-1970s going into the ’80s: Gangs were flourishing. St Marks Place, President, Union Street…Fancy now, then, not so much. “They’d rob your sneakers,” the father shared. He preferred street fighting to Queensberry rules, he said.

Then the fighter told us about his personal point-of-view and more of his plans: “We don’t consider ourselves ‘prospects’ coming in to 2018. We showed everyone Saturday that, 2019, we’re contenders now!”

The sound of his punches, they set him apart. Teofimo said he doesn’t hear how loud his punches can land because he’s in a zone. He said that the finishing hook that felled Menard was only 60-65% of his power capacity. That one, by the way, is called “The Seven” and it’s a half-overhand/half-hook. “It’s a right hook,” Lopez (11-0, 9 knockouts) stated.

 

I played fantasy matchmaker: What about Lopez vs. Devin Haney now? “We’ll take it…He’ll get his ass kicked,” Teofimo said.

“He can beat any style; he makes it look easy…We make everybody look bad. If you are on my son’s card and you’re the main event,” the father declared, “we are going to make you look bad. We’re going to make you look old; we’re gonna make you look not as explosive, not as strong…This kid doesn’t even get hit.”

Other topics: We touched on the future. Could that include a showdown with The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko? The father was thinking along those lines when he saw “Loma” and company at the Madison Square Garden hotel on fight week and he declared that his son would get the better of Loma. In fact, he used tougher terms. It didn’t almost come to blows, he said. The elder Lopez said he shook Loma’s hand near the elevator and he didn’t like the way Loma looked at him. “We’re going to take everything you have. You better get ready because nobody’s going to remember you after my son’s finished with you,” he recalled telling Lomachenko. The father said he won’t go in like that again. “Loma was just laughing,” in reaction, said Junior.

“Loma looked old,” said Teofimo, regarding Lomachenko’s outing against Jose Pedraza. I noted that I wanted to give Jose Pedraza full credit. “I don’t know about old,” I said.

The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (left) and Jose Pedraza. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (left) and Jose Pedraza. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Yes, the father isn’t afraid to talk in a loud voice about the superiority of the son. At 11-0, the father said, his kid looks better than Floyd Mayweather Jr. did at 11-0, so read between the lines on how good you think the father believes the son will be…

“He looks like a truck coming after you,” said Junior of his son’s vicious intent. “This is what the fans want. This is going to bring boxing back. We’re not trying to figure you out; we’re going in there to take your head off. Are you ready? They’re not going to be ready!”

The boy was sparring junior middleweights and middleweights for this fight, so that gives you an idea of the durability of his chin too…

Junior was on a roll in this session but he did allow that “Loma is a great fighter.” But I pushed the issue…Let’s see the young gun challenge the master at the top of his game. Maybe it’s too early…but if the kid wants it, book it! Excessive marination be damned…Book it!

The father said he could see his kid fighting Lomachenko and blowing him away in one or two rounds. And voila, superstardom! “He’s going to be the talk of the town. He’s going to do it to everybody!”

Pop called Lomachenko “Little Loma” and thinks his son’s power would be too much for the Ukrainian.

But sorry for the cold water…Father and son both said they think this isn’t a collision course situation though. They think business interests make it not so likely a mash-up. “2019 will be my last year at 135 pounds,” Teofimo said. “I’m not gonna wait for no guy.”

More tidbits from the interview: Junior says, “We’re gonna be, 2019, easy…I think two fights.”

Teofimo also told us he’s a clean fighter, nothing stronger than B-12. “And I like Oreos,” he said.

Teofimo is thinking of a move back to Brooklyn, returning to Vegas to train.

Ray Beltran, Jose Pedraza, those are future foes he’d like to have a crack at…Also WBC junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez and WBO junior welterweight beltholder Maurice Hooker are on radar to Team Teofimo. “My son would take (The Ring Magazine/WBA/WBC middleweight champion) Canelo (Alvarez) right now if they’d let him,” the father said. The kid might top out eventually at 160 or even higher.

We also discussed when Teofimo might come to New York to headline at the Hulu Theater in MSG. It will happen, not sure when however, he said.

Dad said it will be more easy work coming up. The son summed it up: “It’s not that they’re not good but it’s like Roy Jones used to say, it’s that we make them look that bad!”

Listen to the show in its entirety here. This includes what Teofimo and his dad said about Teofimo fighting WBO welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford. You’ll also hear the backstory, about where the first Teofimo came from, hear about the son’s loss at the 2016 Olympics, about the meaning of the tattoo on his chest. Overall you will sense how confident Junior is in his son. What a sky high bar he’s setting! I get the sense the kid isn’t conflicted at all about it. After all, they are on the same page.

Damn right, I want to see if these expectations can be matched because if they are, boxing has a superstar soon to emerge. The sport can always use more of those.

 

 

Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.

 

 

 

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