Teofimo Lopez is bold in claiming the no. 1 spot in the talented and top-heavy lightweight division, but his assertion has nothing to do with the fact that he currently holds three of the four recognized world title belts or that he toppled a WBC “franchise” champion.
The 23-year-old Brooklynite claims that top spot for himself because he says he’s earned it the old school way– by going out and beating the no. 1 guy.
Lopez’s upset victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko last October made big-time waves in boxing and earned the bold, brash battler a co-Fighter of the Year honor from Ring Magazine. It also earned him extreme bragging rights in a division now full of young talent such as Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, and Devin Haney. And he’s definitely not shy about staking his claim as top dog, as well as immediately dispelling the notion that there’s a “Four Kings” dynamic at the top of the 135 lb. class, comparable to the “Four Kings” of the eighties: Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Marvin Hagler.
“Whoever put out there those ‘four kings,’ you a hater for Teofimo because there’s only one king, there could only be one king in the lightweight division and I showed that,” Lopez told Fight Hype. “Teofimo Lopez is the king of the lightweight division. There is no four kings. If anything, those are three queens and I’m the king, alright? Those are my b***hes and that’s how I look at it.”
Lopez has recently been railing against boxing exhibitions and the celebrities cashing in on huge paydays with boxing matches that, he feels, take money away from the real fighters in the game. He’s implored the sport’s promoters to put aside their differences for the benefit of the sport and make the big fights the fans want to see. He’s also been holding other fighters’ feet to the flame as guilty of playing politics to avoid the biggest challenges out there– a claim he applies directly to his fellow lightweight stars.
“How can you say that you’re the best if you don’t fight the best? They all had the opportunity,” Lopez said. “Ladies and gentlemen…all of your three queens had the opportunity to fight Lomachenko and they all declined it. They all either overpriced themselves or didn’t want to fight or said they’re not ready yet…Who the hell are they to say they’re the A-side…if they haven’t shown anything. Who are they?”
Whether or not you agree with Lopez’s assessment of his lightweight contemporaries, he does have a point about the sorry state of the sport at the moment. With boxing’s top talents divvied up among promoters and networks, walled behind exclusivity deals, the big, important fights are harder and harder to make. And not only does the poor business model handcuff proper matchmaking, it also provides a convenient excuse for those who may be looking to cash in a few more easy paychecks before taking on too much risk.
Lopez directly asserts the latter when it comes to WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney, specifically, who he calls an “email world champion.”
Lopez claims that Haney was offered the Lomachenko fight before him, but intentionally overpriced himself as a way to avoid the tough challenge.
Again, whether that’s true or not is another issue. Lopez’s main point seems to be that it’s time to get the big fights made for the benefit of the sport.
He’s 100% right on point with that and he definitely “walks the walk” when it comes to his talk. He went all in with his jump to challenge pound-for-pound darling Lomachenko just about two months after his 23rd birthday and is now reaping the rewards for his bravery.
And, yeah, he’s maybe also earned the right to refer to the other lightweight talents as the “three queens.”