By: Sean Crose
Someday I’d like to know why the back and forth between lightweights Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney last Saturday night in Fresno became almost as big a story as the one that went down in the ring earlier in the evening. For those who don’t know, popular multitilist Mikey Garcia was stunned by the unknown, but exceedingly skilled, Sandor Martin last weekend. The fight was, without doubt, the upset of the year, with Garcia hopelessly chasing about the slick, sharp shooting Spaniard. Yet the shocking defeat of Garcia at the gloved hands of a largely unknown fighter was almost superseded afterward by the antics of Lopez and Haney, both of whom had shown up in person to watch the fight.
In a sense, it was fitting watching two fighters who don’t fight much occupy a spotlight left by Garcia, who also doesn’t fight much. Garcia, after all, hadn’t fought in well over a year before slipping between the ropes to face the underdog Martin on Saturday. Meanwhile, Lopez hasn’t fought since besting Vasyl Lomachenko a year ago and Haney has fought exactly twice since 2019. In fairness, there’s been Covid to deal with…and both Haney and Lopez have clearly been trying hard to get back in the ring. As Lopez can attest better than anyone, life can get in the way. Yet seeing he and Haney fencing verbally after a Mikey Garcia fight was a notable experience.
This was largely because most fans recognize big names don’t much square off these days. They tweet, they make Instagram posts, they best fighters levels beneath themselves in terms of talent – but they rarely face each other. Does anyone really feel comfortable that Lopez and Haney will fight next year…or the year after that…or even the year after that? Why would anyone? The truth is that the match, should it ever happen, will be treated as a superfight, when in reality, it’s simply a very good fight. And perhaps that’s the point – when legitimate superfights are replaced by obscenely long-awaited quality fights, trash talking may be one of the only things known boxers have left to do with their time.
One thing to keep in mind – Garcia had recently expressed great confidence that he would be battling Manny Pacquiao. That obviously didn’t happen – nor did a potential bout with Regis Prograis. Instead, Garcia finally met the largely unknown Martin and ended up tasting defeat in stunning fashion. Haney and Lopez may have wanted to take note.
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