By Mark Elezaj
LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez quieted the critics and has officially taken over the light heavyweight division.
In boxing’s biggest fight since the global COVID-19 pandemic, Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) held off a late rally from the previously ranked pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) to score an upset victory by unanimous decision on Saturday night, unifying all four lightweight titles inside the MGM Grand Conference Center.
All three judges scored the fight for Lopez, 116-112, 119-109 and 117-113 for Lopez.
After watching it closely again, The Fighting Voice had it 115-113 for Lopez.
“All it is, it’s ‘The Takeover,'” Lopez said.
“It’s time for the new generation to come up and it’s time for me to lead the way for everybody.”
Lopez snapped Lomachenko’s 13-fight winning streak Saturday night.
Lomachenko, was a 4-1 favorite and hadn’t lost since Orlando Salido beat him by split decision in their 12-round featherweight title fight back in March 2014 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
CompuBox had Lopez out-landing Lomachenko by 42 punches overall (183-of-659 to 141-of-321). According to CompuBox stats, Lopez landed more power punches (148-of-364 to 78-of-172), while Lomachenko connected on more jabs (63-of-149 to 35-of-295).
“Honestly, you’ve just gotta keep pressuring him, keep putting the gas on him,” Lopez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna .
“And then all you gotta really do, man, is stick the jab, don’t really give him that opportunity to set up. And every time he did wanna throw, I had something ready for him, at least something [to] throw. So, it kinda stops his momentum. And, you know, on top of that, he’s been on a 14-month layoff. I knew it was gonna take a long time for him to catch up.”
Lomachenko didn’t throw many punches during the first half of their fight, giving away the early rounds to Lopez.
Lomachenko did come on strong in the second half of the fight, landing flush punches while having Lopez fight off of his back foot at times, however Lopez was never really hurt.
Lomachenko felt that he did enough to get the victory with his performance in the later rounds.
“I think in the first half of the fight, yeah, he got more rounds than I did,” Lomachenko told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel through a translator. “But then in the second half of the fight, I took it over and I was much better. But I wanna go home to review the fight, to see it. I can’t comment much now about it. But I’m definitely not agreeing with the scorecards.”
Lopez showed the world what he was made of in the 12th and final round of what turned out to be a great fight. Despite the fact that Lopez’s father told him he had the fight won, Lopez decided that he would continue to keep the pressure on Lomachenko until the final bell.
Lomachenko looked to be on his way to winning the final round by getting off first with clean combinations until landed a clean left hook that appeared to hurt him.
“I’m a fighter,” Lopez said after the fight regarding the 12th round. “I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn’t know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight. I can bang, too. I don’t care, man. I’ll take one to give one. That’s what a true champion does. I find a way to win.”
Lopez became the first fighter in the four-belt era to become an undisputed champion at lightweight. When asked what’s next, Lopez responded “Take me to 140 or I could go fight Devin Haney if they want that.”
With the upset victory Saturday night, Lopez, 23, becomes the second-youngest boxer in history to win a third divisional belt (Mike Tyson holds the record, at 21 years, 37 days old in August 1987).
~ The Fighting Voice ~