By: Oliver McManus
This weekend sees one of the most mouth-watering fights the sport has witnessed in many years. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez pits someone with a solidified record as an all time great (amateur and professional) against his younger opponent who, surely, will go on to create his own illustrious record of greatness. Boxing Insider, assembled a panel of fighters and journalists to discuss and dissect the contest.
Oliver McManus (that’s me, follow me on Twitter @OliverGMcManus) –
“This is one of those rare offerings that I’ll neither complain about having to pay for nor the fact it’ll require staying up into the early hours of the morning for: Wilder vs Fury II aside this is the boxing Super Bowl of 2020. Teofimo Lopez has all the qualities of someone destined for exceptional success in the sport and has carried himself with an outrageous confidence for a man of his age. To date he’s backed up that confidence with equally outrageous performances in the ring: two rounds to obliterate Richard Commey highlighted the gulf in class between a ‘good world champion’ and an ‘exceptional challenger’. Of course part of his advantage is the weight at which Lopez walks around and, surely, he’ll step up the divisions as a matter of course throughout his career. The issue lies not in his skillset but who he comes up against. You’d favour Teofimo to sweep his way through the lightweight division with little bother, as Craig Scott mentions below, with the exception of Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Lomachenko is a boxer who mentally and physically defies all human logic and reason. Whilst Lopez has that size advantage he also seems to be far more emotionally invested in the fight than his Ukranian opponent (even if the investment is into how little Lomachenko supposedly means to Lopez). I think Vasiliy Lomachenko boxes as cooly and clinically as he has approached the fight and stop Teofimo Lopez around the 10th round.”
Brad Rea (unbeaten middleweight signed with VIP Promotions) –
“I think it’s impossible to be against Loma at the moment. He just seems to be so much better technically than anyone. I like Lopez and think he’s the best out of the young lightweights on the rise but think it’s just a step too far for him at the moment. He’s been running his mouth so I think Loma will punish him for that.
Jay Harris (Commonwealth flyweight champion and former European champion / world title challenger) –
“It’s a great fight but I’m going with Loma. I just can’t see anyone beating him.”
Aqib Fiaz (Matchroom Boxing super featherweight) –
“I think Lomachenko wins the fight, he’s got more to his boxing then Lopez most definitely. Lopez is bigger in size but lomachenko has shown us in the past how he deals with size in the fights with Linares and Campbell. In my opinion he’s one of the best ever. No one does the things he does in the ring and I can see not just a win but maybe even a late stoppage.”
John Thain (British and IBF European title challenger at welterweight) –
“I’ll say Lomachenko. He looks fired up for this and we’ve seen he can perform under pressure and in big fights (even against champions): Linares, Rigondeaux, Walters, Russell Jr, Campbell.”
Tommy Philbin (former Celtic super middleweight champion) –
“It’s a great fight and credit where it’s due Lopez has stepped up at a young age to fight an amazing fighter in Lomachenko but no matter who Loma fights I can’t see past him. There’s nothing he can’t do. Lopez is brilliant but Loma is even better. This loss will probably be the making of Lopez as losing to Loma is nothing to be ashamed of and he will become a much better fighter fighting the best. Fair play to him for stepping up.
Tyrone McCullagh (former WBO European and Celtic super bantamweight champion) –
“I’m gonna go for a mad one and say Lopez KO in the first half of the fight.”
Andy Clarke (Sky Sports Boxing commentator) –
“I rate Lopez as a fighter. And I like the fact that he wants to fight Lomachenko, because there are others who should want to but who quite clearly don’t. Having said that though I think it’s too soon for him. Similar to when Canelo shared the ring with Mayweather, Lopez just doesn’t know enough yet to be able to win rounds against a master craftsman like the Ukrainian. We saw Luke Campbell bring a highly skilled fight last year, he could hardly have performed better on the night and he was competitive throughout but turning competitive showings into round wins against Lomachenko is still very hard to do. A points win is the percentage call but I’ll go for a late stoppage win for Lomachenko rather than points because I don’t see Lopez settling for a points defeat at any stage, I think he’ll keep fighting for the win until the bitter end and as a result leave openings that Loma will be able to exploit.”
Craig Scott (contributor for Boxing Social and BWAA auxiliary member) –
“Everything we’ve seen from Teofimo Lopez suggests he’s a special, unique talent. Against anybody else in the division, I’d fancy him to win emphatically. But Lomachenko isn’t “anyone”, and I think he puts on a boxing clinic to win by a handful of points.”
Caoimhin Agyarko (unbeaten middleweight signed with Frank Warren) –
“I think it’s a very good fight: the fighters I see giving Loma trouble are the ones who can punch and have youth on their side. Lopez has both of them two, I do think Loma finds a way to beat anyone out in front of him: does Lopez have the experience if brought into deep waters? I’m not too sure. Lopez has nothing to lose as he’s young & can go again so I feel like all the pressure is on Loma to perform but when does he not perform? For me Loma stops him late but as long as Lopez is in the fight he has a puncher’s chance as he won’t outbox Loma but it’s a very interesting fight.”
Martin Theobald (articles and podcast for NewAgeBoxing)
“I was lucky enough to be in Madison Square Garden when Lopez stopped Richard Commey last December. As much as I wanted Richard to win on the night, there was no way I could envisage a Lopez stoppage win. But what we saw was outstanding – the ability to throw at the same time Commey threw and land his shot that decimated the iron chin of Commey. I was sold at that moment. New York erupted for Lopez, the Brooklyn native and a man who when you dig below the surface is more than just the flash, brash young man who has blown through the lightweight division. He is a man of substance and struggle, but his facia of excitement covers his story.
Lomachenko of course goes in as favourite. He simply has to. He may have shown his own frailties at times (ignoring the early loss – truly a learning fight), namely the Linares win when he met the canvas, but he has been a 9 out of 10 his entire amateur and professional career. To me, this is his biggest challenge. All the other opponents have an arguable asterisk; Linares too old, Rigondeaux brought up in weight, Crolla never at that level to name but a few. However, in Lopez he meets someone who is on a hot-streak. Perhaps this is too early in his career? At only 23 there is a long and I predict very successful career ahead, regardless of how this fight goes for Lopez.
I’m going to swim against the tide here and predict not just a Lopez win, but a Lopez stoppage. An explosive win, a destructive win. No doubt he will have to go through a storm to get there, but I see Lopez breaking out in the early hours of Sunday and solidifying himself as THE name in the lightweight division.
Cain Bradley (amateur boxing aficionado) –
“This is a can’t miss spectacle that boxing really needs. Lomachenko is getting towards the upper reaches of how far up in weight he can go. This may be the final weight division where he can dominate the top level fighters. Make no mistake, Lopez is a high level boxer. He was a well regarded amateur boxer and has gone on to show how well his skills have adapted as a professional by destroying Commey. He is fast and powerful, as well as having a significant size advantage over Lomachenko. Lopez is closer to a welterweight and will have a decent weight advantage come fight night. We have seen Lomachenko dropped by Linares, albeit with a superb shot. It would suggest that Lopez should be able to hurt him but it is only the second time he has been knocked down in his career.
However, we thought that about Nicholas Walters and Lomachenko ended his career. He has that ability to turn really good boxers into wrecks hardly capable of looking like they belong in his ring. He has such utter control of footwork and distance as well as accuracy and timing that Lopez will struggle to get opportunities to unleash that power. Lomachenko will not give easy chances to Lopez, he is simply too good for that. So Lopez will have to create those opportunities against one of the greatest technical talents of all time. I find that rather unlikely. I have not seen Lopez show he has that ability. Lomachenko will chose not to slug with Lopez but rather take the opening few rounds at distance before taking advantage of the opportunities he learns from his early forays. Lopez has shown himself to be hittable and as he gets desperate, I see him presenting opportunities to Lomachenko who will slowly take away everything he wants to do and then we will learn about Lopez. I see him losing a really wide decision unless the decision comes to pull him out.”