Teofimo Lopez has a message for Vasiliy Lomachenko: I can’t wait to put on eight ounces and pierce his skull
Teofimo Lopez Jr. has been growing impatient for some time, and the IBF lightweight titlist will be the first to admit patience is not exactly a forte of his.
Finally, on August 19, the deal was made for Lopez to fight Ring Magazine, WBA and WBO lightweight titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, which will most likely take place October 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
By the time they get into the ring, the 32-year-old Lomachenko will have gone 14 months between fights—the longest hiatus of the two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist’s pro career.
Lopez (15-0, 12 knockouts) will have gone 10 months in between fights, which is the longest time he’s been off in his career.
That’s where the advantage lies—Lopez feels. He’s 23. Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) is 32, with over 400 fights on his body. Lopez has over 150.
“Loma can think he’s going to beat me, and he can think he’s going to beat me easily, but deep down, they’re training their asses off so hard that me and my father (Teofimo Sr.) always talk about it that they’re over working the body,” Teofimo Jr. said. “I never stressed it. Richard Commey, world champion, he killed his whole body to fight me. We know what happened (Lopez won KO 2). Loma is going to kill his whole body during camp. I already know it. Let’s see what he says when we’re in the ring.”
Lopez said he did not have to analyze Lomachenko’s first foray as a 135-pounder. Loma was looking up at Jorge Linares after a blunt, accurate right put him on the canvas for the first time in his career during the sixth round of their fight on May 12, 2018 at Madison Square Garden for the WBA title.
“Jorge Linares was the first lightweight Loma fought and he dropped him,” Lopez said. “Just imagine if I hit Loma like Linares did. After that, he fought (Jose) Pedraza and he got his face beat up. He found it was a lot harder for him than he thought. He had a difficult time.
“(Anthony) Crolla was a pussy who was scared the whole time. Luke Campbell went down in the 11th, but that went to a decision. Loma doesn’t look like a fat boy, but he actually is a fat boy, because 135 is a little over his weight. If you look at the Luke Campbell fight, you can see there is just a lot of wear-and-tear on his body.
“I look at it like this—maybe this whole COVID-19 year helped him out. Maybe he needed it. That way he can probably at least hang in there a little bit with me. It’s going to be a great fight. I just look at the facts. You see a fighter who has gone up in weight class. Sometimes they go up too much where their body isn’t used to it, or the weight class is too big for them.
“With what Loma does with his experience and technique, he’s able to hang in there to at least get the job done.”
Lopez, who is aiming to become the youngest lightweight titlist in the four-belt era, does hold some deference to Lomachenko. He calls Loma a future hall of famer. He doesn’t dispute that. He says Lomachenko is a very talented fighter. He doesn’t dispute that, either.
“But, at the end of the day, I’m going to beat the shit out of him,” Lopez says. “I’m not Linares. Everybody knows that. I’m not Pedraza. I’m not any of those guys he beat. They can say Loma is No. 1 at 135 and I’m second. Well, we’re going to change that when we fight. I’m not worried.
“A lot of people talk very highly about him. But if you look at it, there were so many mistakes he made against Luke Campbell. Loma tries too hard to make everybody think he can still do it, even though he’s 32 years old.
“This man has had over 400 fights. I have over 150 fights. I’m 23. I’m going to tell you this, when I get to camp, oh man, my body aches sometimes. If I’m 23 and dealing with stuff at this age, I can only imagine what he must be going through at 32 with over 400 fights.”
Lopez made no predictions. He calmly and humorously pointed out what happened to Richard Commey. The former IBF titlist was supposed to give Lopez all kinds of hell.
Compounding that was Lopez coming off a lackluster July 2019 victory over Masayoshi Nakatani, in which he went 12 rounds for the first time. There was the family drama going on, which Lopez Jr. stresses has been squashed. There were doubts whether he could withstand a serious threat like Commey, coming off a dubious performance against Nakatani.
But in his biggest fight to date, on his biggest stage to date, Lopez devoured the hard-hitting Commey.
Adding more intrigue is the personal beef Lopez has with Lomachenko. Lopez felt that he wasn’t given the respect due a beltholder when negotiations settled to make the fight.
“People can think and expect an ugly fight; we obviously don’t like each other; he may not like my father more than me, it is what it is,” Lopez said. “In the end, I’m happy we came to some sort of an agreement. I know I got low-balled as fuck. They could have at least coughed up a little more money than they did.
It’s going to be worse for Loma than it was for Commey. I’m going to be on him like a savage. I’ve been dying to fight. I’ve been locked in a cage and ready to eat. My hands have been itching so bad.
“Whatever. They stuck to their guns. They’re going to use the rest of my money for the undercard. Okay, whatever. They put it out there on my birthday that I didn’t want this fight.
“I take all of that into consideration. I’ll take it all out in camp. It’s going to be worse for Loma than it was for Commey. I’m going to be on him like a savage. I’ve been dying to fight. I’ve been locked in a cage and ready to eat. My hands have been itching so bad. I feel sorry for my sparring partners.”
Lopez has already started training and says that he is ahead of schedule. His weight is good, even better than it was for the Commey fight, when he came into camp at 158 pounds. He’s been cutting weight and says on the night of the fight he should come in at around 145 or 147, right about where he was the night he fought Commey.
Lopez also knows the consensus of the boxing cognoscenti that he’s the overwhelming underdog. What’s more is the wide audience the fight will get being televised on ESPN—not pay-per-view. Lopez originally wanted the fight before a live crowd.
It enrages Lopez more that it isn’t.
I can’t wait to put on eight ounces and pierce Loma’s skull.
Being in an empty arena does provide one plus: “People worldwide will hear me calling Loma a fucking bitch,” Lopez said, laughing. “He’ll understand what I’m saying. He knows what a fucking bitch is, because he is one.”
As for the doubters, “Good, I don’t care, everyone has their opinions about this fight, but that doesn’t matter; it’s about what I do and what he does,” Lopez said. “I didn’t watch his fight against Linares, but I do realize when someone is a little too over confident in what he does, it catches up to them. I think Loma thinks he’s a fucking god; that he can’t get touched.
“When he does get touched, that’s when you get Loma, because he does get frustrated. I love it. I’ve faced fighters like him that had winning streaks, though not style-wise, but confident-wise in the way they are.
“Don’t be surprised if this guy tries to fucking kick me or tries to hit me in the balls. You have to understand that when you have someone there and you’re talking shit, and you hit and call them a fucking bitch, and keep hitting them, you get in their fucking head. I’m in his fucking head. I got into his head a long time ago.”
Lopez says he possesses the kind of Mike Tyson-type rage that saw “Iron Mike” tear apart Michael Spinks in 1988 in a fight that seemed to end before it started.
“I remember seeing that fight on YouTube, and that rage and anger is why I love Mike Tyson so much,” Lopez said. “I can’t wait to put on eight ounces and pierce Loma’s skull.”
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.