Teofimo Lopez confirmed his arrival as a new superstar in boxing last night, upsetting Vasiliy Lomachenko to unify a trio of lightweight titles, establish himself as the top 135-pounder in the sport for sure, and even possibly give himself a pretty strong pound-for-pound argument.
But the world moves fast, and so does the sport of boxing, so we gotta ask as always on this morning after: what’s next?
Rematch with Vasiliy Lomachenko
To be clear, there was no rematch clause, so Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KO) can’t just sign a piece of paper and get a second, immediate fight with Lopez (16-0, 12 KO).
Will he want one? Probably. Loma said he felt he won the fight — I don’t agree, and I don’t think anyone else does, either — but that he would review the tape. If Lomachenko is honest with himself, I think he’s going to find you have to work pretty hard to even give him a draw.
But Lomachenko is a fierce competitor deep down, and has always wanted to prove his greatness. So he lost to Lopez, and again, if he’s honest I think he’ll see that he did, and probably see big reasons how he did. It’s not hard to imagine, even if Loma slips a bit and Lopez gets better, that Lomachenko can do a much better job in a rematch than he did in the first seven rounds of this fight.
At the same time, maybe Lomachenko took so long to get going because he felt the power and saw the speed of Lopez and kept being a little too cautious about it — or maybe it wasn’t too cautious; maybe if he hadn’t been, he would have gotten knocked out before natural fatigue set in and slowed Lopez just enough. I legitimately think that has to be considered, because Lomachenko fought unbelievably tentatively for seven rounds, and even for a “slow starter” who takes two or three rounds to “download” information, he wasn’t doing anything.
Lopez probably isn’t itching to give Lomachenko a rematch. It certainly wasn’t a great fight, though it had its fascinating aspects and got more compelling starting in the eighth round, so fan demand to run it right back would probably be iffy. And Lopez stated very bluntly leading up to this fight, and has for a long time, that he does not like Lomachenko.
Lopez has proven that like Loma, he will dare to be great. But will he feel he owes this guy a rematch? Will he want to give him another payday? Probably not, and I’m betting almost certainly not immediately.
I banged on about how Loma-Lopez was not actually an undisputed title fight, and I realize most of you simply don’t care. The thing is, I also don’t really care, it’s just factual information I felt deserved to be heard by a wider audience in opposition to the promotional speak.
That factual information does create the possibility of, y’know, selling a “REAL!” undisputed title fight with WBC titleholder Haney (24-0, 15 KO), the 21-year-old Matchroom fighter whom Lopez calls — with some fair reasoning — a “two-time email champion.”
There isn’t the same bad blood between Lopez and Haney that there was between Lopez and Loma, but this isn’t a tough fight to sell, either. Hey, it’s undisputed now no matter how you look at Haney’s belt, and if Haney wins handily as expected against old man Yuriorkis Gamboa on Nov. 7, he and Teofimo would be well in sync to line up a fight for, say, early spring of 2021.
It would be a pretty huge step up in class for Haney, but Lomachenko was a pretty huge step up in class for Lopez. Teofimo talked the talk and walked the walk, Haney could offer to do the same. Teofimo says “The Takeover” isn’t purely about himself, though he sees himself as the leader. He feels it’s time for the sport’s young guns to go to that next level and introduce a true new era. With this matchup, he could fight a fellow young gun in a big event, and Top Rank and Matchroom have worked together easily when the fights are there to be made, even if Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn might talk a little bit of trash between making money together. It shouldn’t be all that hard a fight to make, if Haney wants to make it happen.
Speaking of young guns...
Hey, he’s got name value. Now it’s certainly no lock that this suggestion will make sense in six weeks, as the 22-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KO) has a major step up of his own on Dec. 5, facing Luke Campbell in a WBC eliminator. (The eliminator, by the way, is for a shot at the belt Haney has, the one that actually requires you to occasionally face a mandatory challenger.)
Campbell’s far from a gimme, and a far cry from recent Garcia victims like Francisco Fonseca, Romero Duno, or Braulio Rodriguez. But Garcia has passed every test given him so far, and has been sensational since some young fighter struggles with Carlos Morales back in 2018. He took that fight and got better, which is all you can ask after the fact.
Lopez-Garcia fits the way Lopez-Haney would, with different pros and cons. The big “pro” on Haney’s side is the WBC title argument, the big “pro” on Garcia’s side is he has more current marketability value than Haney does, which is not really a knock at Haney, who has been promoted very well for his age, it’s just that Garcia has set something of a new standard in how young fighters can promote themselves.
Would Golden Boy do this? Would DAZN want to let Garcia go to ESPN for a fight when he’s one of their few marketable names right now? Not sure. Maybe it could start a third Garcia vs Oscar war!
As a quick note, I’m not mentioning Gervonta Davis in Big Font because it’s incredibly unlikely, politically speaking. Davis is with PBC and Mayweather Promotions, and unlike Matchroom (Haney) and Golden Boy (Garcia), PBC/Mayweather don’t work quite so easily with Top Rank. Could it be a great fight? Sure, and that’s why I’m mentioning it quickly here. But Tank doesn’t get his own section because compared to the rest of these ideas, it’s just really not likely to happen or spend much time on at the moment.
Move Up to 140
Lopez mentioned this idea in his post-fight interview. He said in 2019 that he wanted to fight Lomachenko by the end of that year, because he felt he would be growing out of 135 by then, and he’s been clear that he won’t push his body to limits he doesn’t think it can handle anymore; in other words, when he feels like he’s physically out-growing a division, he will move up instead of trying to force himself to stay at a weight. Lucky for us, he made it healthily to 135 for at least about a year longer than he suspected he might before, but he also might be feeling it’s time to get out before he comes into a fight physically drained.
The bigger fights are at 135, at least in terms of his next fight. Top Rank does have the two titleholders in the division, Josh Taylor (WBA/IBF) and Jose Ramirez (WBC/WBO), but they’re on a road that leads to one another in 2021, their own undisputed title fight. Lopez could certainly move up and fight a solid contender at 140 — Jose Zepeda, Jose Pedraza, Viktor Postol, Regis Prograis might even be available if he doesn’t stick with PBC long-term — but would it be the type of fight he wants coming off of this win over Loma? If he’s still comfortable at 135, the move up might be best held off for at least one more fight.
Yeah, this one’s batty. Hang with me for a minute, then call me stupid.
It’s (finally) official that Crawford (36-0, 27 KO) will fight Kell Brook on Nov. 14 at the Top Rank “Bubble” in Vegas, with Crawford defending his WBO welterweight title. It’s another sort of placeholder fight for “Bud,” who aligned with Top Rank is basically frozen out of fighting the 147-pound division’s other big names, who are all with PBC, except maybe Manny Pacquiao, who wants to fight Conor McGregor.
Crawford is 33 years old. Since beating Jeff Horn to win the WBO welterweight belt in 2018, he has defended against Jose Benavidez Jr, Amir Khan, Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas, and now Brook is next.
Every one of those fights has been “placeholder” style, with minimal good reasoning to make them. “Hey, Benavidez was once considered a blue chipper, maybe he’ll pan out as a pro if he has a big fight?” led to “Well, Khan still has some name value” led to “I mean, Kavaliauskas is a mandatory, gotta do it” has now led to “Well, Brook still has some name value.”
I don’t want to fully write off Brook, who can punch and is a good fighter, but 147 may not be his weight anymore and he’s past-prime, pretty much without question. If Crawford wins as it’s expected he will, what then for Crawford? Kudratillo Abdukakhorov? A rematch with Kavaliauskas? Unless PBC are willing to come to the table with one of their 147 stars, it will likely be another fight like we’ve been seeing, which has gotten stale and also feels like a real waste of what could be the final days of Crawford’s prime.
Lopez is bold, so here’s a bold idea: jump two divisions and fight Crawford in a big money bout for both guys. Is it a little crazy? No. It’s more than a little crazy. But to hell with it, that’s what sports media is all about now, say something pretty dumb and wait for the reaction, yeehaw!