By: Hans Themistode
Any talks of Teofimo Lopez’s size as the main factor behind his career-defining win over former unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko will be met immediately with a disgusted look from Shakur Stevenson. Lopez, a 5-1 underdog, outboxed and outworked Lomachenko in late October to become the youngest undisputed champion in boxing history.
Outside of a height and reach deficit against Lopez, Lomachenko himself has admitted on numerous occasions that fighting at 135 pounds places him at a size disadvantage on most nights. So while many have rightly pointed at the disparity in measurements between the two, for Stevenson, it wasn’t about the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.
“I disagree that just because Teo was bigger that it was the reason he won,” said Stevenson on Max on Boxing. “With that fight, I feel like it had a lot to do with heart. I feel like Lomachenko is a great fighter but I feel like he didn’t have the heart that night to dare to be great.”
Through six perplexing rounds for Lomachenko, the former multiple division titlist kept his hands in his pockets as he refused to engage with Lopez. His early-round tactics were particularly surprising considering the bad blood between the two throughout the build up.
The tentative game plan of Lomachenko switched however, the moment the second half of their contest came rolling by. The Ukrainian product found it much easier to let his hands go and was rewarded as he tagged his man repeatedly. Lomachenko’s new-found aggression coincided with Lopez losing steam on his punches during the later rounds. The strategy he implored may have allowed him to climb back into the fight, but for Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), he viewed it as more cowardly than anything else.
“I feel like you can’t go in no fight for six rounds straight and not throw no punches at all. That’s not how you dare to be great. You got a power puncher in front of you and great fighter also. You got to step into the lion’s den and I think he was afraid to step into the lion’s den.”
Competing at 135, although he’s done so for several years, might be a thing of the past for Lomachenko as a drop in weight could be imminent. If that is in fact the route he decides to take, Stevenson would welcome him with open arms and clenched fists.
While on paper the two are similar in size and skill, what lies on the inside will be the biggest difference.
“A fighter who doesn’t dare to be great and don’t have that kind of heart doesn’t have a chance with me. A scared fighter can’t beat me. I don’t think it would be good for him to come off that loss and get in the ring with a Shakur Stevenson. I feel like I’m a go in there and beat him up because he has heart problems.”