By: Sean Crose
Teofimo Lopez, the former WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight titlist, returns to the ring this Saturday night when he squares off against the largely unheralded Pedro Campa at Resorts World Las Vegas in a scheduled 10 round junior welterweight affair. It will be Lopez’ first foray into that division. It will be Campa’s opportunity of a lifetime. Should the widely unknown 30 year old best heavy favorite Lopez this weekend, he will be the new toast of boxing. Suffice to say few, if any, observers give Campa much of a chance. Make no mistake about it, this is supposed to be a tuneup fight for Lopez.
There’s good reason, for this, of course. Lopez was a true rising star when he bested the seemingly invincible Vasyl Lomachenko back in the fall of 2020. The honeymoon ended up being surprisingly short lived, however, as Lopez was surprised by George Kamabosos in his very first title defense. Australia’s Kambosos was supposed to essentially be a stepping stone for the popular Lopez. Instead, it was Kambosos who walked away with the win, as well of Lopez’ belts, after their fight last November. For Lopez, the experience proved to be an unexpected, and abrupt, fall from on high.
He’ll fall even further if he loses to the 34-1-1 Campos this weekend. Few expect that to happen, however. The 16-1 Lopez can hit like a sledge hammer. He’s also excellent on the inside and carries himself with a showy swagger that can intimidate those who aren’t the coolest of customers. Yet Lopez has proven he isn’t always a cool customer himself. He relied solely on his power against Kambosos to his own detriment. He then appeared to be lacking in sportsmanship after his surprise defeat to the Aussie. Few may know who he is, but the experienced Campos knows how to grind an opponent down. It will be interesting to see whether or not Lopez will – or can – get his man out of there early. If he can’t, things may then become even more interesting.
The 13-0 junior middleweight Xander Zayas will appear in the co-main event on Saturday as the up and comer (he’s only 19) takes on the 22-4-0 Elias Espadas in a scheduled 8 round affair. Zayas is the one to keep an eye on here, have dusted all but four of his opponents within the distance. The 31 year old Espadas, on the other hand, hasn’t lost in his last 6 fights.
The Teofimo Lopez-Pedro Campa card will be broadcast live by ESPN (and ESPN+) starting at 10 PM Eastern Time on Saturday.
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