Teofimo Lopez un-retires just in time to keep his WBO belt and risk it against Devin Haney
A complete shocker it was not. More like the pre-ordained ending of a not-so-elaborate publicity stunt, at best.
Yep, that’s what it was.
In an announcement that surprised very few people, Teofimo Lopez declared his retirement null and void and called out archrival Devin Haney in yet another profanity-laced social media tirade, just hours before a generous deadline given by the WBO for Lopez to confirm his retirement was due to expire.
The word “generous”, of course, must be taken with a pinch of salt, especially in boxing. The expectation to collect a large sanctioning fee is always a consideration for the alphabet soup gang, and we all know that three-percent of a lot of money is a lot of money. Hence the willingness to give Lopez one more day to think about it, even though he had made it abundantly clear that his intentions to ditch every belt in his collection with the exception of the Ring belt (which carries no sanctioning fee, but which would have been declared vacant if we had taken his retirement claims seriously) were indeed final.
What a difference a day makes, huh? And it is obviously safe to assume that the chance of collecting a multi-million dollar purse in a mega fight against Haney made it even easier for Lopez to pull the 180°, as well.
On Wednesday, the World Boxing Organization had issued a letter giving Lopez just 24 hours to formally notify his retirement, but always allowing the option for Lopez to return as a top contender, since the logical notion is to leave the gate unlocked whenever a cash cow runs away.
Lopez’s retirement was not taken quite as seriously by anyone, including this publication.
“These guys are young, still in their primes (Lopez is probably just entering his). Do we take them at their word and drop them from the rankings, or do we give them a little time?” asked our editor-in-chief Doug Fischer in the beginning of our weekly discussion on ratings updates, and most of us agreed on the fact that Lopez’s retirement was a spur-of-the-moment decision during the post-fight interview after beating Josh Taylor in New York.
But then Lopez proceeded to double down on his comments on every opportunity he had. He even went to Puerto Rico to collect his belt and was openly courted by the WBO to remain champion, while he repeated in every interview that he gave there that his intentions were serious.
Yo @Realdevinhaney , since you were so quick to jump in the mix for my WBO Championship belt! Let’s make the fight happen so the world can see who is about that action.
& no, you will not be on the A-side. I hold the King title of the division as well! So don’t run away!! Bitch
— Teofimo Lopez (@TeofimoLopez) July 13, 2023
With that in mind, the WBO issued a letter stating their idea to initiate a purse bid for the eventual Arnold Barboza-Jose Ramirez vacant title bout. In their letter, they also declared that Lopez would be considered virtually as mandatory challenger for that title for the next 12 months if he wanted to return to action, should his retirement be confirmed. But they also set up a 24-hour deadline for him to hold on to his belt.
Lopez chose to do so before that deadline, and all of a sudden his fight with Haney was back on the table, since in a separate letter the WBO had given Haney a similar deadline to declare his intentions to move up to 140-pounds that would have allowed him to parlay his 135-pound WBO title into a mandatory challenger position at junior welterweight.
The social media clash that ensued promises to be the “round zero” of that potential mega-fight.
“Yo Devin Haney, since you were so quick to jump in the mix for my WBO championship belt, let’s make the fight happen so the world can see who is about that action. No, you will not be on the A-side. I hold the king title of the division as well! So don’t run away! B__ch,” said Lopez upon learning of Haney’s intentions.
“Came out of retirement (I guess) because the next move was for Devin Haney to fight sorry-ass Arnold Barboza for my WBO championship title at 140lbs. F__k that. I’m tired of helping this kid be something that he is not. And that’s a real champion!”
Haney shot a few comments of his own.
“Yo hoe ass never retired in the first place. Let’s see if you really want the smoke. I’m gonna be 140 champ regardless. You asked for 20 million last time my pops talked to you,” Haney stated.
Lopez flatly denied asking for 20 million for a bout with Haney, and given the amount he got for facing Taylor it is unthinkable that he would get that much, but that didn’t stop him from retorting.
“What? 20 M? I didn’t even stat out the location of our fight let alone put a price on the fight. What you talking about man?! Start losing weight and we’ll figure out the rest so we can give the fight fans a DREAM that will TAKEOVER the sport of BOXING,” said Lopez.
As of this writing, Haney had been detained in California and released on $35.000 bail after being found with a semi-automatic weapon hidden in his car. The charges may not progress into anything substantial, but this could become a roadblock for the negotiation to progress. Or maybe even provide more ammunition for both fighters to trade barbs on social media.
Regardless of how this situation unfolds, the fight is still to be made, but the fighters seem to be ready and the fans will surely be there too.
One thing is certain, though: the WBO will be there to award a belt to the winner. Count on that.
Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.
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