Teofimo Lopez will get his great shot against Vasiliy Lomachenko
On Wednesday night, sometime shortly after 8:17 p.m. ET, Teofimo Lopez received the best news of his boxing life—he will be getting his opportunity to fight Ring Magazine, WBA and WBO lightweight titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko.
On Thursday, the IBF lightweight belt holder endured one of the worst feelings anyone can go through in life—having his Wisdom teeth pulled.
At least he got to sit in the dentist’s seat with a smile on his face.
The aim for Lomachenko-Lopez is October 17, despite the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the world, and it will be shown nationally on regular ESPN—not pay-per-view—before an empty arena inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight agreement was first reported by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic.
“COVID-19 was the biggest stumbling block,” admitted David McWater, Lopez’s manager. “There’s just less money in the pool. Unfortunately for us, Loma had a lot of guarantees that couldn’t be broken, so that took a bigger part of the pool.”
So, McWater said, with neither he nor Top Rank CEO Bob Arum able to move back and forth, they moved sideways during much of the negotiation.
It was reported that Lopez (15-0, 12 knockouts) would earn $1.5 million, though multiple sources said the figure would be closer to $1.7 million, while Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) is expected to make around $3.2, giving up a small, low six-figure sum to make the fight happen.
“I think the deal works for everybody,” McWater said. “There are a lot of factors involved. Bob was great to deal with and talk to. We all wanted the same thing.
“It was a big deal to Teofimo that the fight took place in front of fans and it was one of those things that we had to give up on. You can’t argue with the virus. Nevada’s state government is making sure everyone will be safe, and we’re going to hold it in an empty arena.
“Fighting in front of fans is something that might have pushed this fight back six months, and no one was willing to do that.”
Having the fight shown on national TV under the ESPN umbrella was a huge factor in making the deal—as opposed to pay-per-view. It’s an audience that could fall well into the millions.
“Fighting on ESPN was really important to us,” McWater said. “We felt like if we’re going to fight the best fighter in the world for less money than we wanted, we like everybody to see us beat him.
“That was key for us. It’s something that we’re excited about.”
The numbers allowed may be between 50 to 70 in the stands. Media may not be allowed to be there live. Those numbers will be determined by the Nevada state government.
“Teofimo wanted to make this fight happen,” McWater said. “That was the No. 1 driving force in making the fight and the decisions that we made. We were not willing to miss this opportunity.”
At 23, Lopez could become the youngest lightweight champion in the four-belt era. By the time they step into the ring, Lomachenko, 32-year-old, two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist, will have gone 14 months between fights—the longest hiatus of his professional career. Lomachenko last fought in August 2019.
Lopez will have gone 10 months in between fights, which is the longest time he’s been off in his career.
“We would prefer October 24, but PBC may have something going on the 24th and ESPN I think would prefer the 17th,” McWater said. “It’s a fight everyone wanted and a fight everyone is going to get—and it will be huge. Both sides really wanted to make this fight.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.