You have to wonder what Teofimo Lopez knows that many other boxing people may not.
Since well before the 23-year-old signed on to face the Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko in a high-stakes lightweight world title bout, Lopez was telling anyone who would listen that he’d be the one to take out, destroy, and humble the master boxer and pound-for-pound darling. And since the bout was actually signed, he’s been even louder with his proclamations, even referring to the two-time Olympic gold medalist as a “little diva” and a “b*tch.”
Now, with just hours to go before their October 17 clash, those words are reverberating.
“I expect him to get hurt, badly, with the explosiveness I bring to the table,” Lopez told Stats Perform News. “I knew I was the underdog coming into this. Listen, it doesn’t motivate me any different, it doesn’t change anything, you know what I mean?”
Lopez’s father and trainer has been just as vocal, telling the world that his son will stop Lomachenko in six rounds or less. Needless to say, given who Lomachenko is, this is a bolder than bold statement.
Vasiliy Lomachenko, for those who may be unaware, is not only one of the most accomplished fighters in the history of amateur boxing, he’s also a three-division world champ who won his first professional title in just his third pro fight. Over the course of his short 15-fight professional career, he has dominant wins over the likes of Gary Russell Jr., Roman Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Jorge Linares, Jose Pedraza, and Luke Campbell. Currently, he holds the WBA and WBO lightweight titles, as well as holding the designation of being WBC Franchise champ. And, aside from all of that, he’s regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Lopez’s words have registered with the usually calm, clinical Lomachenko and have clearly gotten under his skin.
“Perhaps they didn’t teach him in his neck of the woods that you have to watch your tongue,” Lomachenko recently told media. “And when you’re saying such things, you have to answer for them. You can’t simply insult a person because you don’t like him.”
“If I have the chance to make it unpleasant for him, so that he feels it and remembers, I’ll certainly do so…I don’t think he fully gets it. It seems to me that he doesn’t understand. I hope to drag him into deep waters, down to the bottom, and keep him underwater without air.”
Lomachenko-Lopez will be an intriguing clash of styles, featuring the footwork and skillful boxing mastery of the 32-year-old Lomachenko against the come-forward aggression and belligerent confidence of the 23-year-old Lopez. The outside-the-ring clash of wills, however, is just as compelling as what may ultimately happen inside the ring.
Are Lopez’s threats nothing more than false bravado and/or a calculated effort to throw the master boxer off his game? Will Lomachenko bite at the bait and engage in full-on war, thereby giving his less-skilled and less-experienced opponent a greater chance at scoring the upset?
The truth shall be revealed soon enough. In the meantime, though, Lopez keeps telling everyone how he’s ready to shake up the world.
“I was built for this; I was born for this, man,” Lopez said. “You know me, man. This is who I am and what I’m all about. These situations are what I live for.”