Teofimo Lopez urged by WBO to declare his intentions or be stripped of world title
After Teofimo Lopez upset Josh Taylor to become The Ring and WBO junior welterweight titlist he surprisingly announced his retirement from life as an active boxer with immediate effect.
Since then, Lopez has travelled to Puerto Rico, the home of the WBO and received his belt in early July.
Now the WBO have announced that Lopez (19-1, 13 knockouts) has 24-hours to confirm in writing if he wishes to remain champion or to be considered retired.
Failing that, the Puerto Rican-based sanctioning body will give undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) 24-hours to decide if he is moving up in weight.
If not, they intend to move ahead with the two highest-ranked contenders, namely unbeaten Arnold Barboza (28-0, 10 KOs) and former titlist Jose Ramirez (28-1, 18 KOs) meeting for their vacant championship.
However, if Lopez remains champion or Haney decides to move to 140-pounds, the Ramirez-Barboza negotiations will be cancelled [Note: It is believed Haney is in talks to face Shakur Stevenson at lightweight] .
The WBO further explained the parameters to the promoter of all three fighters, Top Rank, the fighters and their representatives.
“[If] Teofimo Lopez, Jr., decides to fight considering the peculiar circumstances surrounding his decision as well as his personal affairs, we are recommending to the WBO Executive Committee Members that based on his extraordinary professional accomplishments (e.g., “Undisputed” lightweight champion and recently defeating the “Lineal” WBO jr. welterweight Champion in Josh Taylor), that he shall have the right to fight as the mandatory challenger in the jr. welterweight division regardless of any “Undisputed champion” who wishes to fight for the WBO jr. welterweight championship in a period no greater than 12 months from the date the Barboza, Jr./Ramirez, Jr. bout takes place,” said Luis Batista Salas, the WBO ratings chairman.
Lopez, The Ring’s champion at junior welterweight, represented Honduras at the 2016 Olympics. Since turning professional, the big puncher went about his business in devastating fashion, scoring highlight reel knockouts against Mason Menard (KO 1), Diego Magdaleno (KO 7) and Edis Tatli (KO 5). After a learning experience win over Masayoshi Nakatani (UD 12), Lopez was back to his brilliant best, demolishing IBF titleholder Richard Commey (TKO 2).
The 25-year-old became undisputed lightweight king when he edged past Vasiliy Lomachenko (UD 12). An often-postponed bout and outside-the-ring drama meant Lopez didn’t face IBF mandatory George Kambosos for 13 months and, when he did, he shockingly dropped a 12-round split decision. Lopez has moved up to 140 pounds and won two fights before stunning former undisputed champion Josh Taylor (UD 12).
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].