Monday, June 05, 2023  |


Teofimo Lopez Jr. makes triumphant return in his junior welter debut

Teofimo Lopez celebrates after defeating Pedro Campa. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

The last time Teofimo Lopez Jr. fought, medical records empirically show, he shouldn’t have fought. The last time he fought, he was suffering from a condition that’s as hard to spell as it is to pronounce (pneumopericardium). The last time he fought, he could have died.

The last time he fought, his world was crumbling around him. He sat on his stool and thought the unthinkable—quitting.

That was the last time “The Takeover” fought—the result of which was a split-decision loss to Australian George Kambosos for the world lightweight championship last November that he still contests.

Lopez (17-1, 13 knockouts) himself will admit his stubborn ways have been his worst enemy.

He got to hit the reset button and start fresh Saturday night before a soldout crowd of 3,553 in an air-conditioned tent outside of the Resorts World Las Vegas with a brisk sparring session against Pedro Campa, someone he was supposed to pound, and did, winning by seventh-round stoppage.

Lopez then immediately let everyone know that he will be back in the ring again on December 10 in Madison Square Garden against an opponent to be determined.

But he had no problem calling out everyone he could at 140 pounds.

“I was at 135 pounds for nine years. It was killing my body, since I was a teenage kid, man. We want Josh Taylor. We want these guys. We want (Regis) Prograis. We want (Jose) Zepeda. We want all the belts. We want to become two-time undisputed champion.”

And on Ryan Garcia, “If Josh Taylor is too busy with his wedding and there’s nobody else around because the WBA belt is taken and the WBC is going to be fought with Zepeda and Prograis, then so f—g be it.”

“Teofimo proved tonight that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with at 140 pounds,” said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, Top Rank Chairman. “There are many incredible fights to be made in that weight class. The future is very bright for one of the sport’s most talented fighters.”

The fight story was actually written months ago as soon as the freshly inked signatures dried on the contract. This was a smartly executed comeback party against a tough guy who had no realistic chance of beating Lopez.

The Takeover got in some decent work, for however it lasted, ESPN got to fill idle time on a mid-August Saturday night and Top Rank got one of their prime fighters back into fight mode.

Lopez may not have looked as sharp as he wanted. He missed a lot of punches. He probably got hit more than he would have liked.

But he dominated.

In the seventh, Lopez knocked Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs) down with a straight right. By then, Campa’s left was swelling shut fast. He stayed in there and he was courageous, but he did not have the firepower to keep Lopez off of him.

Referee Tony Weeks saw enough as Lopez was punishing Campa and finally interceded at 2:14 of the seventh.

Campa could not get out of the way of the rampaging Lopez, who landed 52% of his power punches (86/164) and 59% in the 7th round before scoring the TKO. In addition to landing 86 power punches, Lopez landed 50 jabs.

“We’re obviously going to see what’s out there on December 10, but this was so important for us and we wanted to see how Teofimo felt after it,” Top Rank President Todd deBoef told Ring exclusively. “I think you saw a real tide during the fight. The Kambosos fight he went out like a killer. This time, he stayed back. As the fight went on, you saw him be a little more aggressive.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.


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