Regardless of what has been a meteoric rise in professional boxing for Teófimo López, the 23-year-old American took everyone by surprise last year. This amazement resulted from stunning the vastly experienced Vasyl Lomachenko at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
There was certainly no taking López for granted, of course, because this talented boxer from Brooklyn was always tipped for big things. However, he was clearly regarded as an underdog against 33-year-old Lomachenko. The man from the Ukraine was expecting a fairly comfortable defence of his WBA (Super), WBO, and The Ring lightweight titles, looking to add the IBF belt to his growing collection, held by López.
Instead, the bout promoted as “Winner Takes All” went the full distance, resulting in a unanimous decision in favour of López. The judges were clear in their awarding of the victory, firmly underlining who was the better boxer on that 17 October 2020 night, scoring the fight 116-12, 119-109, and 117-111 for Teófimo.
Lomachenko had more than met his match in Las Vegas, especially in the final round when López was looking to finish the job with a knockout. López actually landed 50 of 98 punches, which is the highest Lomachenko has ever faced against any opponent, in any round throughout his career.
After emerging triumphantly from that fight, López has gone on to claim that he is now the undisputed lightweight champion. This was after being named as the WBC ‘Franchise Champion’ at lightweight, confirmed by none other than WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. He explained that new title as a special ‘Franchise Boxer’ designation, introduced a couple of years ago.
This has inevitably brought the ire of fellow American boxer Devan Haney, who thought he was the top dog in the WBC lightweight rankings. Unsurprisingly, López has utilized that official confirmation as a good reason to taunt Haney. “Franchise and the regular” he grinned, holding up the two belts, before producing officially signed certificates as proof.
No doubt such mockery could lead to a fight between the two, although for now, López must focus on the first defence of his undisputed lightweight crown. Indeed, ‘The Takeover’ will be taking on George Kambosos Jr. from Australia, with the 27-year-old known by his ‘Ferocious’ nickname and for good reason, having now gone 19 lightweight fights without defeat.
As the defending champion with the added undisputed flavor, López is the clear boxing betting favourite at -1200 odds, with Kambosos Jr. valued as the +600 underdog, regardless of boasting his own unbeaten record. This is one defence that López is firmly being backed to win, although he now finds the tables turned, as that was the same situation facing Lomachenko last year.
Interestingly, the comeback trail has already begun for Lomachenko, who apparently neglected to agree to a rematch deal with López, before losing all his belts. Just one weekend after López fights Kambosos Jr. in Miami, the next bout for Lomachenko is against Masayoshi Nakatani of Japan, scheduled for 19 June in Las Vegas. It could earn him another crack at López, if the American is willing to negotiate later this year.