Was a star born on Saturday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, or had the star been born and some folks just getting the birth notice a little later than those in the know?
You were on site or you watched Teofimo Lopez’s blitzkrieg mashup on Mason Menard, the sort of effort that had folks picking their jaws up from the floor after seeing the Brooklyn born hitter do just that, hit Menard in thoroughly destructive fashion that you worried for his safety.
I know I was mesmerized by the efficiency of the attack and even by the acoustics. The sound of two or three of the shots that the 21-year-old landed on the Louisiana boxer had such a loud thump on them they sent a message that is pretty rare.
Yeah, when the sound of the connect is such that it carries back to the cheapest seats, that makes an impact.
OK, enough of my gushing. You know where I stand. Maybe we should introduce a more measured tone. Let’s reach out to someone working for Top Rank, the promoter of Lopez, who staged the card at MSG, the one topped by Vasiliy Lomachenko (a future foe for Teofimo? More on that when you scroll down).
Yeah, the promoter’s people are usually the ones gushing. But the seasoned bunch at TR don’t generally indulge in that. They don’t have to. Yeah, OK, Arum sometimes gets hyperbolic. But the support staff typically let him have that lane and stay in their own.
Executive Carl Moretti chatted with BLH on Monday, and I peppered him about all things Lopez. So, Carl, did Teofimo win the weekend?
“He’s certainly on that short list to be considered for that honor,” the New Jersey resident acknowledged. “He left the people in the arena saying, ‘Oh boy I can’t wait to watch him fight in person or on TV again!’”
Yes, I raise my hand, I’m one of those people. So when? When will Lopez fight again?
“February or March,” the promoter’s right-hand man stated. It’s too early for names, but we will see Lopez in a notch tougher, against a top 15 sort, a former champ whose wave has crested.
And will the ask for foes be stiffer than it would have been on Dec. 7? I’d bet so. You have to know you are trading brain cells for currency when you agree to tango with Lopez.
“It would not be something someone is going to take for short money,” deadpanned Moretti.
More gushing: I admitted to Moretti that I think the whirlwind sort of destructiveness of a Lopez makes him the sort of boxer who could more easily transcend than a patient predator, like a Bud Crawford and a Loma. Those guys scout, and patiently break down a foe, while Lopez seems to be working off a different schedule, like he gets a bonus the quicker he whacks a guy out.
“I get where you’re coming from,” Moretti said, before stepping into that zone of reasonabless, level-headedness.
“The offset to that is as the level of competition rises, the other guy on the other side stays there longer,” he said. “So you don’t know if you’ll see (the early round blastouts) you saw with Tyson, obviously, and in the lighter weights not so much.”
The pragmatism stayed in play.
”The goal is to get Teofimo competitive, quality rounds.
“And is he a star, a superstar to come? I think it’s early to say. That is the hope and the plan. This is a building process, there is no clock on us now. We will do what we always do.”
So that would not include giving the people what they want. You don’t think that Top Rank couldn’t sell out the Theater in a week if they booked Loma versus Teofimo in March? But that would be aiming for short-term gain over longer-term, larger potential gains.
Teofimo is maybe a blue chip stock. You don’t grab the quick pop, you buy and you hold, and you savor the flavor for many moons. As for a Lopez vs Loma bout, Moretti isn’t playng what if.
“That fight will make itself or it won’t,” he said, while noting that Lopez is 21, a growing young man, and who knows how long his frame suggests 135 is his best spot?
“I worry about their careers separately,” he said. “Lopez is a big kid. And I don’t see Loma ever going above 135.”
I have to think that Team TR is pumped, because Lopez is now another guy that no doubt can be placed atop a card at the Theater, and you can build his fan base so he becomes a seat-filler.
“Eventually, small room and big room,” said Moretti.
You may have heard that PapaFimo barked at Team Loma at the fighters’ hotel a couple days ago. Greg Leon had deets on Boxing Talk:
“I just told them how I feel. I told them that we’re going to steal the show again and we’re coming to take his head off soon. ... He ain’t nobody man, I don’t know why people praise this guy,” said Teofimo’s dad Teofimo Senior. “This guy is terrible and everybody saw it on Saturday when he looked terrible. This guy won’t last two rounds with my son and I’ll put all my money on that. He’s too fragile for my son, and we already that they’re not going to fight us because we’re going to end his career. Top Rank would love for him to do it because it would set him up as a $50M fighter. Top Rank doesn’t need this guy. He couldn’t even sell out a 5,000 seat arena. This guy is a fake and he’s always been a fake to me. We would have killed Pedraza in one round. We’re putting Lomachenko to sleep. He’s just too small. Loma is never going to be able to beat my son. If he fights this way with my son he might get knocked out seconds into the first round. My son is going to be the best boxer in history and he’s only 21 right now and I believe he only landed with like 50-60% of his power on that shot that finished Menard off.”
Hey now. Now you know where the hard hittin’, back flippin’ confidence springs from.
OK, Mr. Moretti, you are aware of that hotel beef? Thoughts on it?
“It doesn’t move me either way,” said the ever-equitable Jerseyite.
So, friends, I put it you, to the wisdom of a knowledgable crowd. How good is Lopez? Do we get out ahead of ourselves with wins over William Silva and Mason Menard? Or can he continue to groove like this as the foes get tougher, with chins sturdier, and bags of tricks more varied? Talk to us. How good is Teofimo now and how good can he be?
And hell, while we are at it, let’s project into speculative territory: if Teofimo fought Lomachenko in March 2019, who wins and how