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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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