We’ve gotten used to seeing Teofimo Lopez blow away his opponents in his fights, but that wasn’t the case tonight in Oxon Hill, Maryland, as Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani hung tough for 12 full rounds.
Lopez (14-0, 11 KO) did get the win on the cards, though, and deserved it. Official scores were 118-110, 118-110, and 119-109, which were arguably a bit wide, but Bad Left Hook scored the fight 116-112 and 118-110 on two separate cards, too.
Lopez, 21, struggled some with the height of the six-foot tall Nakatani, who was effective at times when using his jab, and struggled when he didn’t. Nakatani (18-1, 12 KO) is a long-reigning domestic titleholder in Japan, having held the OPBF lightweight belt since Jan. 2014, and certainly had his moments in this fight, giving Lopez a very valuable learning experience at the very least.
Asked about his own performance, Lopez told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, “Horrible. But it is what it is. The guy’s tall. From this point on, we’re only fighting guys my height,” which was said with zero humor in his tone, if you’re wondering.
With the win, Lopez is now lined up to face IBF lightweight titleholder Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KO), and after seeing Nakatani have some success with a right hand against Lopez tonight, you have to wonder if Commey — who is better and a bigger puncher — might be licking his chops over a matchup against a still-developing youngster, in what will be the biggest fight of Commey’s career.
But Lopez isn’t losing his confidence about the matchup, saying, “We’re gonna fight Richard Commey, and after that, we’re getting all four belts (against) Lomachenko.”
Asked to verify that he does still want to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko at 135 pounds, he replied, “Absolutely. Loma’s gotta fight a guy that’s six foot, too. He has a tough fight (against Luke Campbell on Aug. 31) ahead of him. This guy was no pushover, he was undefeated, ranked No. 3, I was No. 4. This is what it’s all about. I showed I can take a punch, I showed I can go 12 rounds. We’re ready.”
Do you have more concerns about Lopez after this fight, or do you just see it as a good fight he can learn from going forward?