By: Sean Crose
He surprised a lot of people when he bested Vasyl Lomachenko some years back. Now, after a surprise loss of his own at short time later, Teofimo Lopez is working to establish himself at junior welterweight. A colorful, power punching New Yorker, Lopez is no doubt must see television, which is why fans will be tuning in to ESPN Saturday night when the 17-1 fighter battles the 40-2 Sandor Martin in the main event of a Madison Square Garden card. Martin is best known for upsetting the popular Mikey Garcia in 2021, a victory which subsequently led to Garcia retiring from the ring with his health and wealth in tact.
In truth, this isn’t an easy win for Lopez, if it ends up being a win at all. Martin is a puzzle in the ring. Garcia was perhaps one of most deliberate fighter of his era and he couldn’t figure Martin out. Will Lopez be able to? He hits harder than Garcia, for sure, but Lopez has yet to prove his power has thoroughly carried over since he’s made the move from lightweight to junior welterweight. There’s no doubt Lopez will be the favorite walking in, but he’ll have to be in top form if he’s to best Martin in front of his home town crowd.
Sure enough, the only man to defeat Lopez, George Kambosos, was himself an awkward fighter. Still, Lopez tried to do too much too soon in that fight, clearly hoping for an early knockout. Suffice to say it’s likely that he’s learned from experience. It’s also worth noting that Lopez did, after all, best Vasyl Lomachenko, arguably one of the most awkward fighters in the history of the sport. Believe it or not, there’s a lot riding on Saturday’s fight for the man. Names like Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis are possible opponents should Lopez perform well this weekend.
What’s more, Lopez is good for his promoter, Top Rank, simply by virtue of the fact that the he has a colorful personality. “I needed to leave the 130 pound division because I no longer needed to lead by example there,” he told FightHub. Funny? Sure – but also smart. Such statements draw in eyeballs, interest and ultimately dollars. As does Lopez’ suddenly yelling at Martin during a promotional faceoff. To be sure – there’s only one Teofimo Lopez, and he wants you to know it. Whether or not he will take over the junior welterweight division the way he did the lightweight division, however, remains to be seen.
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