They said Teofimo Lopez’s only chance to defeat P4P stalwart Vasyl Lomachenko was by knockout. There was no way the 23-year-old power puncher could hope to out-think a fighter with Lomachenko’s footwork, educated pressure and hand speed. And yet, when the final scorecards were read giving Lopez a wide unanimous decision, it was the cherry on top to solidify every boast Teofimo and his trainer/father (Teofimo Sr.) have made over the past two years about being Lomachenko’s ring superior.
NEUTRALIZED, NOT SIMPLY WAITING: For many, Lomachenko lost this fight over the first 6-7 rounds. Lopez outlanded him in each of these rounds, was the aggressor, and showed great poise in keeping Lomachenko from mounting any significant offense. It wasn’t a matter of Lomachenko being “rusty” from his 14-month layoff — it was the consistency of Lopez’s longer jab that kept Loma out of his preferred range, and the ferocity of the younger man’s body shots.
LOMA WAKES UP IN THE 7TH: No doubt realizing the scoring hole he was in and perhaps sensing Lopez’s stamina slipping, Lomachenko started to press forward . The seventh was a transitional round — not a definitive Loma round but at least a promising one where he was coming forward and scored a few head shots. The eighth was when you could clearly see Lomachenko outworking his rival and forcing clinches with his combinations.
From rounds 8-11, Lopez abandoned his body attack and gunned for home-run head shots, particularly the counter right uppercut. But while Lopez was looking for one shot, Lomachenko was outworking him. He had his best rally throughout the 11th and stunned Lopez several times with the quickness of his southpaw left. Lopez remained on the backfoot until the closing 15 seconds when two digging right hands to the body sent Lomachenko into retreat.
LOPEZ DOMINATES THE 12TH: With Lomachenko surging and the fight potentially on the table, Lopez stood his ground and beat back Lomachenko. Body shots lifted Lomachenko off his feet in the first half. The second half was toe to toe and Lopez hurt his foe with massive left and right hooks, creating a dominant 50-19 difference in punches landed.
ROBBERY?: Although all sane observers believe Lopez was the rightful winner, the scorecards have gotten scrutiny — 116-112 (Tim Cheatham), 117-111 (Steve Weisfeld) and 119-109 (Julie Lederman). The first score was the most accurate and balanced reflection of the fight. 115-113 Lopez I can also live with but feel you’d have to be generous and give Lomachenko every competitive round to get it that close (some folks got to this point by giving Lomachenko rounds 2, 7 or both which none of the judges did).
Weisfeld’s score is pushing it. Rounds 8-11 were clear Loma rounds. Julie Lederman I’m convinced hates Loma. One round?! Yes, in an empty arena I’m certain the impact of Lopez’s heavier hands was eye catching, but it felt like she was docking the man extra points for playing keep-away in the first half. Admittedly, we all have biases which come out in close rounds. Some of us will automatically favor the aggressor. Others the bigger puncher and even the ring general who controls the action’s flow. But none of that can excuse not recognizing what’s in front of you.
NEW RESPECT AND FUTURE BUSINESS: As a someone who picked Lopez by decision (albeit by majority decision), I’m hoping everyone has newfound respect for the Brooklynite’s boxing ability. The overwhelming narrative coming in was that Lopez was just some hard-punching caveman whose only shot was an early KO. Instead, he outboxed Lomachenko for long stretches and won a gut-check 12th when the desperate champ had him under pressure.
The man is a special fighter in the making. If you thought he was cocky before, the man’s confidence will now be through the roof. He rightly knows there’s not a man around his weight-class he cannot compete with. He is the first of his generation to tangle with a P4P elite and come out victorious, hopefully signaling the end of guys waiting until they’re in their late 20 and early 30s to make superfights. As Lopez said himself in his post-fight interview:
Everyone wants to be like Mayweather. In order to be like Mayweather, you’ve gotta be like ‘Pretty Boy’ first.
The buzz behind this win already has Lopez’s peers energized. Both Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia expressed their willingness to fight him. And there would be interest in a Loma rematch, not to mention the possibility of Lopez jumping to 140 where in-house guys like Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez await.
But for now, let’s salute a young gun that decided to take a massive risk and prove to us what he already knew — that he’s one of the best in the world. Welcome to the Pound 4 Pound list, Teofimo.