Crawford vs. Kavaliauskas, Commey vs. Lopez Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the legendary Madison Square Garden Arena in New York, New York will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions latest card to be televised live on ESPN.
Terence Crawford will defend his WBO Welterweight Championship against Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the main event of the night. The co-main event will be a IBF Lightweight Championship match between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez Jr.
The undercard is also stacked with talent. Michael Conlan will face Vladimir Nikitin in a featherweight bout that will be a rematch of their 2016 Olympic bout. Other fighters to keep an eye on include Josue Vargas, Julian Rodriguez, Mickey Bey, and George Kambosos Jr.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
<strong> Richard Commey (29-2) vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr. (14-0); IBF Lightweight Title </strong>
Teofimo Lopez is one of Top Rank Promotions’ young guns with an incredibly high ceiling. He’s only twenty two years old and has under fifteen fights as a profressional, but he’s already fighting for a world title.
Lopez is ten years younger than Commey and will be giving up about two and half inches in reach. Lopez has been the more active fighter of the two, as he fought three times in 2019 and four times in 2018. Commey only fought twice in 2018 and once in 2017.
Lopez does appear to have a large edge in amateur experience. He competed in the 2016 Olympics for Honduras and was a US National Golden Gloves Gold Medalist. Commey has no major international accomplishments as an amateur.
Commey has two losses on his record, but they were both by close split decision to Denish Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. He has defeated the likes of Raymundo Beltran, Isa Chaniev, Alejandro Luna, and Hedi Elimani.
Lopez has yet to taste defeat as a professional. He has defeated the likes of Masayoshi Nakatani, Edis Tatli, Diego Magdaleno, Mason Menard, William Silva, and Vitor Jones.
It will be interesting to see how Lopez handles the reach advantage of tested and rugged veteran. Commey is experienced and will be able to take advantage of any mistakes that Lopez may make. But Lopez is the good fighter with a strong punch.
This writer sees Lopez dominating in the middle to late rounds to win a decision victory.
<strong> Terence Crawford (35-0) vs. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1); WBO Welterweight Title </strong>
Terence Crawford is one of the world’s best fighters, but he struggles to land big meaningful fights in a talent rich welterweight division.
Crawford is thirty two years old and the clock to get a big name fight in his athletic prime is starting to tick. His opponent isn’t much younger as Kavaliauskas is thirty one years old. Kavaliauskas will have abount a once inch height advantage but Crawford will have a three inch reach advantage.
Both boxers had extensive amateur backgrounds. Crawford was a former PAL Champ and a US National Champ as an amateur. Kavaliauskas represented Lithuania in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Kavaliauskas has been slightly more active than Crawford. He fought once in 2019, but fought three times in 2018 and in 2017. Crawford fought once in 2019, and twice in 2018 and in 2017.
Crawford has never tasted defeat as a professional and has won rather convincingly in every bout he’s been involved in. He has defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Jose Benavidez Jr., Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Henry Lundy, Thomas Dulorme, Raymundo Beltran, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricky Burns, and Andrey Klimov.
Kavaliauskas lone blemish on his professional record was a majority draw with Ray Robinson in Philadelphia. He has defeated the likes of Roberto Arriaza, Juan Carlos Abreu, David Avanesyan, Mahonri Montes, and Prenice Brewer.
Crawford has been angling for a big name fight for what seems like a majority of his career. He deserves it, but beating Kavaliauskas is expected of him and likely won’t add much hype for his chance at a big name fight.
Teofimo Lopez Looking To Go From Star Prospect to Champion
By: Hans Themistode
It’s been a long time since the sport of boxing has seen this many active world champions at such a young age. WBC Super Middleweight champion David Benavidez is 22 years of age. WBC Lightweight titlist Devin Haney is just 21 years of age. WBO Featherweight belt holder Shakur Stevenson is only 22 as well.
In short, there is a long list of young fighters who already are in possession of championship gold.
This Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, in New York City, 22 year old Teofimo Lopez will look to add his name to that list as he takes on IBF champion Richard Commey.
The career of Lopez has seemingly been fast tracked. He turned pro in late 2016 and has only 14 contest under his belt. Yet, each time he steps into the ring, he gives off the aura of a well seasoned veteran.
In 2018, Lopez won the ESPN prospect of the year award and will now look to parlay that into a championship.
“If somebody told me that I was going to win my first world title at 22 years old at Madison Square Garden, I wouldn’t believe it but this is huge,” said Lopez. “This is blessings on blessings. Nine weeks in camp and were ready man.”
For as great as Lopez has shown himself to be in his young career, rumors have circulated about constant personal issues within his family. In his last ring appearance against the unheralded Masayoshi Nakatani, Lopez slightly struggled with his much taller opponent. Although he did cruise to a wide unanimous decision victory, Lopez decided to take some time away from the sport in order to get his mind right. His strategy has seemingly worked as he was in high spirits during his media day workout.
“I felt much happier than all my other camps. I don’t feel like I’m back to my old self but just a new self. I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.”
The talent that Lopez has placed on display is eye catching. Equally as impressive, or even more so, is his post fight celebrations. Creative dance moves, backflips, you name it and it’s most likely already apart of his post fight celebration arsenal. With so much on the line in this contest, Lopez did admit to having something up his sleeve if he can secure the victory on Saturday night.
“I have so many ideas but I’m trying to minimize it to see which one will make more noise and which one is going to be trending more.”
With his victory celebrations already prepared and his family issues seemingly behind him, Lopez is now focused on capturing his first world title.
“I feel great, weight is not an issue. I’ve been good mentally and physically, just honestly I’m in the best shape of my life right now.”
Teofimo Lopez Looks Forward to Becoming an Undisputed World Champion
By: Hans Themistode
It’s been an explosive start to the career of Lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs). He has made the rounds on Sports Center high light reels for his eye catching knockouts. He might be only roughly 3 years into his career, but he has managed to fight his way to a mandatory position against current IBF belt holder Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs). These two are slated to face off on December 14th, at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.
Following Lopez’s most recent bout, a win against Masayoshi Nakatoni, he heard criticism about his performance for the first time. Nakatani, may have been an undefeated fighter coming into the bout, but he was a relatively unknown commodity.
Lopez would go on to win the contest, but his streak of 5 straight knockout wins came to an end. After the contest, Lopez was not pleased with his own performance, nor was he was happy about personal issues that were going on in his life. With the biggest fight of his young career just a few short months away, Lopez was happy to report that the personal issues that he was dealing with are now a thing of the past.
“I spoke too much about what was going on personally,” said Lopez. “What I needed to do was take a step back from boxing for a little bit and that’s exactly what I did. I just needed to regroup and figure out a few things but everything is one hundred percent for me and I will be ready for my title shot against Commey.”
The IBF belt holder will undoubtedly be the best opponent he has ever faced, but Lopez will have a difficult time focusing on just him come fight night. As first reported by promoter Bob Arum, the winner of Lopez vs Commey have agreed to take on arguably the best fighter in the world in Vasiliy Lomachenko(14-1, 10 KOs) following their contest. For Lopez, should he be victorious, a contest against Lomachenko would be a dream come true.
“I have the chance to win the IBF world title from Commey and then win every belt from Lomachenko. I’ll be undisputed at 22 years of age. That’s unheard of.”
Lopez is right. Becoming an undisputed world champion at such a young age is a feat that hasn’t been done in the sport of boxing. Still, with his dreams almost accomplished, Lopez is keeping his focus on his fight come December 14th.
“I see it as an explosive fight and a great fight and somebody will get hurt.”
Lopez vs Commey is sure to be an action packed slug fest from the very beginning. With the winner of this contest receiving the opportunity to fight for every belt at the Lightweight division, the motivation for this contest will be at an all-time high.
Is Teofimo Lopez Ready for Richard Commey?
By: Hans Themistode
For a kid with just 14 pro fights, Lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) has made quite a bit of noise.
In a short amount of time he has managed to headline his own card, make constant viral trips on highlight reels and most importantly, climb up the rankings.
As it currently stands, Lopez is the mandatory challenger for the IBF world title held by Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs). At the young age of 22, Lopez has been calling for his shot at a title for some time now. His wish has now been granted as negotiations have begun for a showdown between the two being targeted for Madison Square Garden, on December 14th.
Lopez, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, took the boxing world by storm. His knockout wins over both Mason Menard and Diego Magdaleno caught the attention of many. So did his signature backflip celebration. He’s young, strong and explosive but he’s also lacking in experience.
Going into his contest against Masayoshi Nakatani, Lopez was on a roll. He scored five straight knockouts and was looking to get number six. Nakatani was an unknown fighter making his U.S. debut. Until then, he never fought outside of his native land in Japan.
Everything seemed to be perfectly set up for Lopez. The contest was officially made as an IBF eliminator and it was the first time in the career of Lopez that he would be headlining his own card. What was supposed to be an easy night at the office, turned out to be anything but.
Nakatani landed a number on shots on Lopez throughout the contest. Something that many weren’t accustomed to seeing. The undefeated Brooklyn native found it difficult at times to find a home for his own shots. It was clear that the height and reach advantages that Nakatani possessed, four and three inches respectively, were a problem for Lopez.
For the first time in his career, Lopez fought in the 12th and final round. Although he came through with a wide decision victory, it was clear that it wasn’t the performance that he wanted. Lopez would go on to say that matching up with taller fighters is something that he would like to steer clear of.
“He’s tall but from this point on we’re fighting guys my height,” said Lopez during his post fight interview following his victory against Nakatani. “No more tall guys.”
It wasn’t just the height that caused issues for Lopez, but so did the right hand of Nakatani. Now that Lopez is heading towards his first crack at a world title he will have his own issues to be weary of.
Not only will Commey possess a three inch reach advantage but he also has a devastating right hand. The same sort of punch that Lopez had an issue avoiding his last time out. Commey will also have the edge in terms of experience by a long shot.
Lopez has been calling for his shot at a title for quite some time. He is getting exactly what he has been waiting for. There is no doubt that he is a great young fighter but Commey will push him like he has never been pushed before.
Teofimo Lopez Outpoints Masayoshi Nakatani to Remain Undefeated
By Robert Aaron Contreras
Looming superstar Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KO) left the ring Saturday night with his undefeated record intact, and a IBF title shot in tow. It was not without a tough go from Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12 KO). In the end, Lopez was still all backflips. His quick hands and mighty fists prevailed, winning 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109.
Though the scores were wider than viewers might have expected. Masayoshi, the visiting fighter from Japan, surprised the crowd at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland, imposing his immense size onto Lopez throughout, never providing an easy target for the upstart’s headhunting. The ringside panel clearly preferred Lopez’s sequences of hard punches over the B-side fighters niggling head and body jabs. Lopez like his harshest critics was not as convinced.
“Horrible,” Lopez summed up his performance for Bernando Osuna after the fight. “It is what it is. He’s tall… this guy was no pushover. But you know what? I went 12 rounds. This is what it’s all about.”
“I showed I could take a punch—man, we’re ready. We’re going to make the fight with [Richard] Commey. And then Lomachenko.”
Lopez, a well-built 5’8”, and the six-foot-even Nakatani stood in sharp contrast with one another. It was the towering lightweight who was eager to get underway. Immediately stepping toward the center of the ring and furring long jabs, pausing to toss out lead left hooks from the orthodox stance.
On two occasions in the opening round Lopez left his feet for his patented, leaping left hooks. But a bevy of jabs secured the first three minutes for Nakatani. As they did in the second period.
Early in Round 3, Nakatani even drive Lopez into the ropes. The former Olympian out of Brooklyn opted to catch and shoot to counteract the imposing challenger in front of him. Lopez timed Nakatani’s body jabs to perfection, pitching a chopping right hand over the Japanese’s long, overextended body shots.
A decent left hook finally exploded on Nakatani’s chin in the fourth frame. And with Lopez on the offensive, a sweeping right hand seemed to knock down Nakatani near the ropes. But the referee called a slip—the replay showed only a glancing punch off the shoulder.
Lopez continued to put his hands together. Circling outside of Nakatani, he darted in, do some light damage, and punch his way out. A big right hand of his coincided with the end of the fifth stanza.
All the while, Nakatani’s jab rattled off with regularity as if a metronome. It for the most part kept Lopez at bay in over the next three rounds. Moments, however, when Nakatani seemed sure he was in control of the pace, Lopez would kill his rhythm by moving into closer position and chain together three-punch combinations, aiming almost exclusively to the head. Nakatani’s chin held up the entire way. But the rounds were becoming tight.
Lopez was not exactly being outmatched, not decisively anyway, but by the tenth period, his inactivity—Nakatani’s output doubling him in jabs: poking and prodding away at his shorter target—did stir a small feeling for an upset on the cards. More headhunting was Lopez’s solution in the penultimate round, already in the longest bout of his professional career. Nakatani remained on top of the 21-year-old hotshot.
The heavy-handed Brooklyn native hung back, still circling, looking to tee off when he got the opportunity. He created his own luck here and there, jabbing surprisingly well with his taller foe, relying on quick hands. Nakatani, having competed across 12 rounds since 2014, was still chugging along.
There was grappling aplenty in the 12 and final frame. Lopez hacked away, looking for home runs. Both fighters would step back, separate, then rush into each other to wrap up, and need to be pried off each other by referee Harvey Dock. No significant punches landed either way, leaving a stench of irresolution in the air as the final bell clanged.
Of course the judges had made up their mind, a long time ago it seemed, siding with Lopez nearly every step of the way. Nakatani would have never stood a chance. No judge gave him more than two rounds. Official Bernard Bruni, the most incredulous, could only find one for him.
The night, the venue and the promotion were behind Lopez. In front of him now is a world title fight.
Subriel Matias def. Maxim Dadashev via 11th-round TKO
Matias (14-0, 14 KO) made a name for himself, overpowering the touted Dadashev (13-1, 11 KO). The Puerto Rican puncher had a real talented, elusive boxer in front of him but gained an early advantage plowing forward, and continued the pressure until the very end, charging stinging punch combinations that convinced trainer Buddy McGirt to pull Dadsehev from the fight ahead of Round 12.
The corner retirement was the right call as the Russian boxer was quickly hospitalized and underwent surgery overnight.
From the outset, Matias walked down his opponent. Paying special attention to Dadashev’s midsection. Dadashev’s jab flickered nicely, driving the punch to the face of his stalking opponent—his feet continuously navigating the ring, zig-zagging, digging concentric circles around Matias.
It was a fine gameplan. But Matias with his shoveling was relentless. The early stages belonged to the Puerto Rican. Dadashev stole back the fourth frame with that buzzing jab. But the pretty punch was gone by the seventh period, with the middle stages going back to Matias.
There was a sliver of hope for Dadashev in Rond 8. But Matias was bulldozing again in the ninth and tenth periods. It was a consistent drumming from Matias. Dadashev, feeling the brunt go it: the left side of his ribcage and the back of his arm were glowing a violent red from the punishment.
For Round 11, Matias delivered uppercuts and shoeshining body work. Dadashev’s fleeting footwork was gone, and his knees more wobbly with every punch.
McGirt could not bring himself to sending Dadashev back out for the final round. And he signaled the first loss of his man’s career.
“Is this worth it?” McGirt recounted after the fight. “I seen he was getting hit with more and more clean shots as the fight went on. God forbid, one punch, can change your whole guy’s life. I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
“I’d rather they be made at me for a day or two than to be mad at me for the rest of their life.”
Matias, at least, moves on. Undefeated since turning professional in 2015, stopping every opponent along the way. A light welterweight title fight is in store for him.
Teofimo Lopez Fights Masayoshi Nakatani in Title Eliminator
By Robert Aaron Contreras
Returning on July 19 to New York’s Madison Square Garden, it is clear Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11 KO) was made for boxing’s grand stage—as much for his brass and post-fight celebrations as for his knockouts.
Top Rank Promotions have moved to give the Brooklyn wunderkind his own card on ESPN+ against the undefeated Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0, 12 KO) in title eliminator. On the line is a matchup with IBF beltholder Richard Commey, who Lopez—never one for reticence—began to point out the flaws the lightweight champion demonstrated over Ray Beltran in his last title defense. Beyond that, Bob Arum and Co. already have plans for a unification against one Vasyl Lomachenko.
In April, Lopez was again at MSG. There he picked up a ruinous knockout, this one over European standout Edis Tatli. Tatli had never before been convincingly defeated—his two losses were by conflicting decisions. But the 21-year-old Lopez, with the perspicacity of a star twice his age, eventually plugged a right hand to Tatli’s midsection that spelled the end of the bout in the fifth round.
One win away from a world title fight, Lopez has been fast-tracked to stardom since his professional debut in 2016. Top Rank had no qualms about signing him directly out of the Summer Olympics in Brazil, where he represented Honduras. The burgeoning puncher so far is dominating his competition, registering 11 knockouts in his first 13 pro contests.
His shining moment in the paid ranks came in 2018, pitted against a hardened contender in Mason Menard. Lopez blew him up with an overhand right in under a minute and the knockout went mainstream for Menard’s collapsing in rigor mortis. It complimented Lopez’s celebratory dancing and prancing earlier that year over Diego Magdaleno.
Magdaleno, a former title challenger himself, was made to look like a complete tomato can. Two leaping left hooks in the seventh period from Lopez left the veteran disheveled, stiffened right up on the canvas.
Nakatani, rated No. 3 in the division by the IBF, does not come close to carrying the same kind of punch and is not nearly the household name Lopez is. But in his own right, Nakatani did enter the sport a touted prospect in Japan and since plied his trade among the country’s quality domestic scene.
While there are no lights as bright as the acme of boxing venues that is MSG, the Japanese underdog has at least served as the headliner back home in nine of his previous 12 fights, dating back to 2014 when he won the OPBF lightweight trinket. He enters the weekend an 11-time defending titleholder—the third tier belt it may be, but still a sought-after strap in Asia that prepares its claimant for the full, 12-round distance.
Most recently, Nakatani extended his unbeaten ledger against the well-experienced puncher Hurricane Futa. He excellently negated the barreling Futa with his immense size, jabbing, and managing the momentum of the contest from a safe distance. Hooks from Nakatani would open up his countryman’s eyebrow and the cut forced the referee to call the bout in the fourth frame. It was just Futa’s second stoppage in 34 bouts.
The Japanese after all has three inches in height and reach on Lopez. That length, with his being just under 6-feet tall, gives Nakatani his best (and only) chance of upending one of the sport’s most promising fighters.
Co-Main Event: Maxim Dadashev (13-0, 11 KO) vs. Subriel Matias (13-0, 13 KO), junior welterweight eliminator
Dadashev, a 28-year-old Russian, is a spectacular talent training out of Oxnard, California under Buddy McGirt as well as a part of Egis Klimas’ ballyhooed stable of Eastern Bloc destroyers. His knockouts have made the rounds but his game revolves around adept, even flashy, footwork.
Marching up the sanctioning body rankings—top 5 by both the WBC and IBF—Dadashev is undefeated, turning away a handful of notable opponents. He is already 1-0 on the year. Typically a slow starter, he got off the canvas in March to defeat Ricky Sismundo by fourth-round knockout.
A grafting left hand in the second round from Sismundo put Dadashev on the ground. But the hotshot puncher, soon after detonated a left hand onto his opponent’s chin, all the while moving backwards, for an impressive finish.
Like most prospects stateside do, the California transplant picked up the NABF belt. And he defended the secondary title over former world champion Antonio DeMarco. Demarco was able to rattle Dadashev some time in Rounds 7 and 10. But Dadashev secured a decision victory, outboxing an aged Demarco the rest of the way.
Matias, 27, may be a lesser-known up-and-comer, but he is no less a dangerous one. The Puerto Rican slugger, who is a world-rated super lightweight by three sanctioning bodies, has yet to be read the scorecards in his professional carer. He is a sound composite puncher, bashing all 13 of his opponents inside of six rounds. This includes two-time Olympian Patrick Lopez and the hard-hitting pair of brothers Breidis and Daulis Prescott.
After making the elder Prescott quit from four rounds of steady punishment, Matias two months later dropped Fernando Saucedo in the opening round. And that was enough to convince the opposing corner to pull their man out. Matias’ victim—whose gaudy record of over 60 wins is par for the course for Argentina’s manufactured, promotional machine—was still technically a former world title challenger. As low as featherweight, sure, but not even a sizable two-divisional champion like Rances Barthelemy could take out Saucedo. It took Matias three minutes.
In March, Matias was at the top of the bill in his native Puerto Rico. He had a welterweight veteran in front of him, giving up inches in height to Wilberth Lopez. The same Lopez to extend the distance a bevy of heavy-handed bangers like Alex Saucedo, Isaac Dogboe and Ivan Baranchyk. Matias banged him out in six rounds.
All told, Matias presents Dadashev a real challenge. In fact, the Russian’s team must be confident in him given the high risk-low reward that a lethal, unheralded puncher like Matias concretizes.
2018 Prospect of the Year: Teofimo Lopez
By Jake Donovan
From the moment he was sent packing thanks to some horrific scoring in the 2016 Rio Oympics, Teofimo Lopez swore that the controversy would motivate him to the point where he’d never again lose in the ring.
It remains to be seen just how far he can carry out that promise, but so far the unbeaten lightweight has barely lost a single round in the pro ranks – a run he and his handlers have aptly branded “The Takeover.”
It’s not from a lack of trying on the part of Top Rank’s matchmakers, who’ve continued to elevate his level of competition. Lopez continues to rise to the occasion every time out, putting a cherry on the top of his 2018 campaign with a highlight reel knockout of Mason Menard.
The ease in which he tore through the still serviceable trialhorse was a clear indication that Lopez is done with the prospect level—just at the right time, as he leaves that stage with well-deserved recognition as BoxingInsider.com 2018 Prospect of the Year.
The brash 21-year old from Brooklyn entered 2018 barely a full year into the pro ranks, racking up seven wins in his first 13 months in the pro ranks. All of the wins came against made-to-order competition, prompting the Top Rank staff to seek out opponents who can at least offer Lopez a new look.
Four fights later, that same challenge still exists.
Juan Pablo Sanchez came into his Feb. ’18 clash with Lopez bearing the look of a garden variety opponent-type from Mexico. Immediately lost in his 30-14 record, however, was the manner in which Sanchez was able to provide a stiff challenge to those who’d eventually prevail.
He succeeded in becoming one of just two opponents to extend Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) the distance, ending their bout on his feet but virtually shut out on the scorecards.
The likes of Vitor Jones, William Silva and Menard weren’t as fortunate, nor did any even come close to hearing the final bell.
In Vitor Jones, Lopez was given an opportunity to shine on the undercard of a Vasiliy Lomachenko-headlined show at MSG’s Hulu Theatre, It was the first of two times in which the Honduran-American served in supporting capacity to Lomachenko, the two-time Olympic Gold medalist who climbed off the canvas to knock out Jorge Linares in becoming a three-division titlist.
Lopez’ night was much easier, stopping Jones in just over a minute. The quick hit was enough to bring the still 20-year old back into the ring just two months later, where he fought through injury in manhandling William Silva.
So bored was Lopez of the challenge in front of him that he chose to carry his Brazilian opponent who’d previously extended Felix Verdejo the 10-round distance. Lopez threatened to close the show inside of a round, but eased off the gas and opted to go a few rounds before putting Silva away in six.
The slowed pace—by Lopez’s standards—was for good reason, having suffered a fractured right hand which required surgery and a few months rest. The healing process came quick enough to get in one more fight in 2018, one which would see Lopez forever leave his prospect status in the rearview mirror.
In the opening bout of an ESPN-televised tripleheader topped by Lomachenko’s lightweight title unification win over Jose Pedraza, Lopez lived up to his pre-fight promise of stealing the show.
His competition that night wasn’t so much Menard as it was what would take place later in the show: Emmanuel Navarrete not only shocking previously unbeaten 122-pound titlist Isaac Dogboe, but doing so in dominant fashion; and Lomachenko adding yet another entry in his already historic career.
Both were spectacular moments in 2018, yet somehow managed to fall short of what took place at the top of the telecast.
Fully healed and eager to make a statement in what he knew was his final fight as a prospect, Lopez closed the show almost immediately after it began and in spectacular fashion.
Menard earned a reputation as a potent puncher thanks to a pair of highlight-reel knockouts on Showtime’s ShoBox circuit. Even in stoppage losses to Raymundo Beltran—who went on to win a lightweight title—and unbeaten prospect Devin Haney, the Louisiana-based lightweight showed his durability, which was expected to be displayed—and tested—versus Lopez.
One right hand shot changed all of that in a hurry.
A perfectly placed temple shot rendered Menard out cold, pitching face forward to the canvas in a moment that trended worldwide and made the rounds on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
The good news for Lopez’s handlers is that there no longer exists a need to search for opponents that will further develop him on the prospect level. Up next is a February 2 showdown versus two-time title challenger Diego Magdaleno in Frisco, Texas.
When Lopez enters the ring for what will serve as the stiffest test of his career, he will take his first step as a rising contender. His last step on the previous level was enough to leap into the spotlight—and into the winner’s circle as BoxingInsider.com 018 Prospect of the Year.
Diego Magdaleno Tabbed To Face Teofimo Lopez On February 2
By: Jake Donovan
In the aftermath of his 44-second destruction of Mason Menard at MSG Hulu Theatre earlier this month, Teofimo Lopez told anyone who’d listen that he wants the toughest challenges from here on out.
The staff at Top Rank was clearly listening—and has delivered for his next fight.
Lopez (11-0, 9KOs) will take his first big step in advancing to the contender stage when he returns to the ring. Awaiting the red-hot unbeaten prospect will be two-time title challenger Diego Magdaleno, with their scheduled 10-round lightweight bout to stream on ESPN+ on February 2 live from The Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.
BoxingScene.com contributor and videographer Ryan Burton was the first to report news of the fight being finalized.
The bout comes as part of a loaded card on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, with three title fights also on the bill. Lopez-Magdaleno will stream live on ESPN+ in supporting capacity to the light heavyweight title fight rematch between unbeaten titlist Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12KOs) and former champ Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1, 28KOs).
On the ESPN portion of the show, Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) defends his featherweight title versus Italy’s Carmine Tommasone (19-0, 5KOs), while Ghana’s Richard Commey (27-2, 24KOs) and Russia’s Isa Chaniev (13-1, 6KOs) battle for a vacant lightweight title.
The latter bout has Lopez’ attention, as the 21-year old Brooklyn native is eager to transition from prospect to title contender in a hurry.
“One of the belts I just won was the USBA lightweight title, which is the regional title for the IBF,” Lopez told BoxingInsider.com in offering a glimpse into his planned title pursuit. “So that gave me a sign that I will be fighting for a world title next year. That title is vacant, so I’d love to fight whoever wins (Commey-Chaniev) after my next fight.”
No better way to plan for a title run than to test your skills versus someone who’s been there before.
“We’re trying to challenge Teofimo with all types of styles and experienced guys as he develops,” Carl Moretti, Top Rank VP of Boxing Operations told BoxingInsider.com in selecting Magdaleno. “Diego obviously fits that. Let’s see what the kid can do.”
On the other side of the equation, the one-time rising contender is also curious what he can still do on the big stage.
It was just a few short years ago when Magdaleno (31-2, 13KOs) and his brother Jessie were the talk of the town as rising prospects to watch. Jessie made it all the way to the finish line, picking up a 122-pound belt before conceding to Isaac Dogboe earlier this year.
For older brother Diego, the hope is that his third time will be a charm—if in fact there’s a third time to be had.
The Las Vegas-based southpaw has only lost to reigning titlists, coming up just short in a disputed split decision defeat to then-130 pound titlist Roman Martinez in April ’13. A five-fight win streak and a move up in weight put Magdaleno right back in title contention, only to suffer a 2nd round knockout at the hands of Terry Flanagan in their Oct. ’15 lightweight title fight on the road in Manchester, England.
Magdaleno has since posted three straight wins, including a 10-round decision over fellow southpaw Jesus Cuadro in his most recent outing this past September in Cancun, Mexico.
For Lopez, it’s a quick turnaround that even surpassed his own expectations. Plans called for the lightweight knockout artist—who represented Honduras in the 2016 Rio Olympics—to return either in February or March, the latter contingent on plans being finalized for a Terence Crawford-headlined show at Madison Square Garden.
Of course, opportunity always trumps location. With plans for Crawford’s next bout still being firmed up, an executive decision was made to have Lopez appear on the February 2 bill, which will mark his just second appearance in the Lone Star State.
His lone other bout in Texas will have come almost one year to the day by the time he enters the ring versus Magdaleno. That particular contest was also the last time he’s been extended the distance, settling for a six-round shutout of Juan Pablo Sanchez at close to the super lightweight limit this past February in Corpus Christi.
The win was his first of four in 2018, the balance all coming inside the distance and at lightweight where he plans to remain—at least until he gets a title or two around his waist.
“I want to win my first title at lightweight and hopefully be at this weight long enough to beat all the champs including Lomachenko, either next year or 2020,” insists Lopez.
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Beltran Flattens Maicelo, Crawford Dazzles in Impressive Performance
HBO World Championship Boxing Results: Beltran Flattens Maicelo,
By: William Holmes
The ultra-talented and underappreciated Terence Crawford headlined tonight’s HBO World Championship Boxing Card live from Madison Square Garden in New York City as he took on former Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz.
The untelevised undercard featured some of Top Rank’s best prospects, including gold medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov and the man many consider to be the best prospect from the US Olympic Boxing team of 2016, Shakur Stevenson.
There were no notable upsets on the undercard.
Unfortunately for Top Rank, Terence Crawford’s ability to draw in New York City appears to be questionable, as the top section of Madison Square Garden was empty and there were numerous empty seats in the lower section of the arena.
The first bout on the televised card was between Jonathan Maicelo (25-2) and Ray Beltran (32-7-1) for the NABF, NABO, WBA International, and in an IBF World Title Elimination Bout in the lightweight division.
Maicelo, surprisingly, had a large number of fans in attendance and they were very vocal during the ring entrance and announcements.
Both boxers fought out of an orthodox stance and Beltran was clearly the bigger fighter. Beltran pressed forward in the opening round while the crowd loudly chanted “Peru, Peru!” for their boxer Jonathan Maicelo. Maicelo was able to score a surprise knockdown on Beltran from a combination to the body and an accidental head-butt in the first. The clash of heads opened up a cut over the left eye of Maicelo and the left eye of Beltran. Beltran was able to hurt Maicelo with a left hook at the end of the round.
Beltran pressed forward to start the second round and opened up with an early left hook. Maicelo was able to respond with a solid four punch combination followed by a hard shot to the body. Maicelo looked energized and landed another combination on Beltran by the ropes. However, beltran later responded with a vicious left hook that sent the back of Maicelo’s head crashing hard on the mat.
Maicelo was out cold and the referee immediately stopped the bout. Ray Beltran wins by a vicious knockout at 1:25 of the second round.
The main event of the night was between Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz (19-1) and Terence Crawford (30-0) for the WBO and WBC Super Lightweight World Titles.
Crawford, who had a noticeable height advantage, was active with his jab early on and chose to come out in a southpaw stance against the Diaz, who is a natural southpaw. Diaz was short with most of his punches and reached for his left hook while Crawford was active with his jab.
Diaz was able to land a good left hook early in the second round and later fell to the mat with a pushdown afterwards. Crawford was sharp with his jab for most of the second round and landed a sharp double uppercut combination in the middle of the round. Diaz was able to land a hard right hook near the end of the second that caught Crawford off guard.
Crawford hard a commanding third round and opened it up with a crisp counter left uppercut on a charging Diaz. Crawford’s accuracy with his jab continued in the third round and he was able to land several hard two punch combinations on Diaz.
Diaz was warned for a low blow in the fourth round, but more concerning for him was that Crawford’s accuracy showed no signs of letting up while Diaz’s face was beginning to show signs of swelling from Crawfrod’s accurate assaults.
Crawford dominated the fifth round which was punctuated by a left cross right jab combination and a hard left uppercut.
Crawford toyed with Diaz in the sixth round and seemingly touched Diaz with his gloves whenever he wanted to. Diaz was able to land some good punches in the seventh round and they had several good exchanges, but Crawford appeared to get the better of Diaz.
There was some trash talk between both boxers in the eighth and ninth rounds, but Crawford was landing combinations at will and the intensity of his punches showed no signs of slowing down. He had Diaz momentarily stunned in the ninth round with a hard left cross to the temple of Diaz.
Ringside doctors took a hard look at the eyes of Diaz before the start of the tenth round but decided to let him continue. Crawford took no pity on the plight of Diaz and battered him from ring post to ring post in the tenth round and toyed with him, again.
Diaz walked back to his corner at the end of the tenth round looking like a defeated man and his corner wisely decided to call of the fight.
Terence Crawford wins by TKO at the end of the tenth round in an impressive and dominant performance.
Undercard Quick Results:
Steve Nelson (7-0) defeated Gilberto Rubio (7-5) by TKO at 0:36 of the second round in the light heavyweight division.
Henry Lebron (2-0) defeated Johnny Estrada (0-2) by TKO at 0:52 of the second round in the super featherweight division.
Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (2-0) defeated Agustine Mauras (6-3-3) by decision with scores of 80-72 on all three scorecards in the super lightweight division.
Konstantin Ponomarev (32-0) defeated Edward Paredes (37-7-1) by decision with scores of 78-74 on all three scorecards in the super welterweight division.
Teofimo Lopez III (5-0) defeated Ronald Rivas (5-6-2) by knockout at 2:21 of the second round in the lightweight division.
Tong Hui Li (9-1) defeated Daniel Calzada (14-17-3) by decision in the super welterweight division with scores of 60-54 on all three scorecards.
Shakur Stevenson (2-0) defeated Carlos Suarez (6-4-2) in the featherweight division wins by TKO at 2:35 of the first round.