Teofimo Lopez Sr. doesn’t see Vasiliy Lomachenko lasting beyond five rounds with his son
Excuse Teofimo Lopez Sr. He’s a proud father. He has a right to be. His son, Teofimo Lopez Jr., is going to be at the eye of the world’s biggest fight since the COVID-19 pandemic hit against the supposedly indestructible WBC Franchise/Ring Magazine/WBA and WBO lightweight titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 knockouts) this Saturday night on ESPN (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) the fighter is a little different than father Lopez. The son is a little more laid back, a little more of a room observer, before he slowly wades into the crowd and lets himself be known. Father Lopez seems more the type who will bust into a room and let everyone know he’s arrived, and he could care less what you, or you, or even you in the corner thinks of that.
Father Lopez could be a major reason this fight is taking place. He’s been feeding the fuel behind the animus between Team Lomachenko and Team Lopez. Father Lopez, in a sense, threw the first stone that lit what’s about to ignite on Saturday night. Son Lopez, the IBF titleholder, sits back and laughs.
As training camp was underway in their New Jersey facility, father Lopez, sans cameras, sans jutting digital tape recorders being stuck in his face, spoke candidly about why and how he feels his son will destroy the Ukrainian and spits in the eyes of the doubters who feel son Lopez can’t stay with the two-time Olympic gold medalist. Lomachenko has only lost twice in his life, boasting a 396-1 amateur record, avenging his only loss twice.
Father Lopez could care less about the resume. What he knows is that Lomachenko is 32 years old, in comparison to his son’s 23. What he knows is that all of those fights, and all of those training camps take a toll on the body. And what he also knows is that by fight night, son Lopez is going to weigh close to 145 or 150 pounds, and Lomachenko will be the considerably smaller fighter.
“We’ve been looking for this fight forever, and stylistically, my son is a nightmare for this guy,” father Lopez said. “(Lomachenko) is not supposed to be in this weight division. My son is a big 135-pounder with a lot of skills. Skill-wise, this is a great matchup, and great for the fans. I see my son outboxing him, and I know a lot of people say that can’t happen. They’re going to be surprised.
“Loma does the same thing over and over again. My son knows how to adapt. It’s going to be a couple of rounds, and he’s going to figure out Loma, and then he’s going to get caught. I don’t see the fight going past five rounds. My son is way too smart for this guy, and too strong. It’s going to be a matter of time.
“There’s no 126-pounder who’s going to beat my son. It’s impossible. Loma is a little sneaky, but we’ve already figured that out. That step that he does to the side, which is the only thing he does, besides his movement on the outside, the double backing up and all of that stuff. Once my son gets close to him, he’s over; the fight is going to be over. My son is going to slap all of those pity-pats that he throws; he’s just going to slap them out and make him feel a good, strong punch that is going to land. I don’t know if it will be a left hook, or a straight right hand, or a body shot. We have to see.”
Lomachenko is not much a problem, father Lopez says. Team Lopez has to figure out the timing, and being in front of his face the whole night. Team Lopez feels Lomachenko is slowing down, with examples coming from the Jorge Linares fight. They feel Lomachenko has peaked.
“There is no way on this earth, or any other earth that this guy will beat my son,” father Lopez said. “This is the strongest my son has ever looked. We’re way ahead of schedule already. At this time when we were getting ready for (Richard) Commey, my son was around 156, 157 a month before the fight. He’s 148 now. He looks like a beast. We had two heavyweights with us, and they came up to me and said, ‘Your son hits like us.’ It’s why I say, once we catch him, we finish him.
“I know my son. I said we would knock out Commey in the second round. I knew Commey could take a hit. We’re thinking backwards for Lomachenko. I really believe Loma is scared of my son. I believe he is. This is going to be a really bad night for him. Why? Because my son doesn’t respect him. Luke Campbell, Linares, (Jose) Pedraza gave Loma respect, well, let’s say too much respect. All of these guys had him and didn’t go after him. It seems like when they hurt Lomachenko, they tend not to go after him.
“We’re not going to respect him. We’ll shave the hair for fight time.
“The fight won’t go past five rounds—I’m telling you!”
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.