By: Sean Crose
“Undefeated lightweight phenom Teofimo Lopez,” I wrote back in 2018, “10-1, slipped between the ropes to battle the 34-3 Mason Menard. The match was as brief as it was violent. Lopez rocked his man with a right almost immediately, unloaded his arsenal, then blasted Menard with a thunderous right. Menard landed flat on his face, forcing the referee to halt the bout almost immediately. It was reminiscent of Marquez’ knockout of Pacquiao or even Hearns’ of Duran. Indeed, it may have been the knockout of the year.” There was no doubt at the time that Brooklynite Lopez was a force to be reckoned with.
It didn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, when Lopez defeated the one and only Vasyl Lomachenko a few years later in 2020. Sure, Lomachenko was the obvious favorite walking in, but everyone knew the thunderous and exceedingly confident Lopez would present quite a challenge for the fighter known as “Hi Tech.” He ended up presenting more than that – he ended up presenting the boxing world with its newest star…himself. A new era was apparently beginning. Lopez became a spokesperson for Bud Light. Upstart Triller outbid Top Rank and Matchroom for the rights to Lopez’ next fight, against a widely unknown contender named George Kambosos. The future belonged to Lopez, it seemed.
Except it didn’t.
First the Triller deal fell through. Then, surprise of surprises, Kambosos bested Lopez in their much delayed bout last November. Kambosos, simply put, was able to do what people had expected Lomachenko to have been able to do – he clearly outboxed his man. Unfortunately, Lopez was not gracious in defeat, insisting instead that he had really won the fight. Needless to say, it was not a good look for Lopez. Now, more than half a year later, Lopez will return to the ring this weekend.
For, on Saturday evening in Vegas, the 15-1 fighter will slip in between the ropes to face the little known or lauded Pedro Campa, 34-1-1, in a scheduled 10 rounder. This will be Lopez first foray into the junior welterweight division, so he’ll probably be weighing in more than when he was a dominant lightweight. Lopez is clearly expected to win, but he probably more than anyone knows what a surprising sport boxing can be. Still, if his head is on straight, Lopez – who goes by the nickname of “The Takeover” – should impress. He’s only 25, after all. If he’s seeing things clearly, he’ll realize harping on the Kambosos fight will be nothing but a waste of time.
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