It’s looking like boxing fans are on track to get to see a rematch battle between Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, but it’s less clear on when and where that might occur.
Anyone reading this likely knows that young Lopez talked his way into a match with the veteran craftsman from the Ukraine, and then proved doubters wrong as his skills matched up quite nicely with all the trash talking he’d done to get the opportunity. Lopez had to work harder in the second half of the fight last October, when Loma picked up his pace, understanding that his meager output early made it easy to see how he’d be down on the cards.
The judges liked the work turned in by Teofimo, and Loma returned home to lick his wounds and ponder his place in the pound-for-pound rankings.
On Saturday night, Lomachenko returned to the ring, and to form. Opponent Masayoshi Nakatani had in front of him a 33-year-old athlete who acted not only like he really wanted the win, but also do some damage along the way.
I wondered as I watched if Loma was picturing Teofimo as he got his angles and cracked the Japanese fighter with straight lefts, rapid flurries, and then slid away, so nimble afoot.
Maybe I was a bit more impressed than Teofimo Lopez Sr, who came as part of the sold-out crowd to see what Loma would look like after eight months away from the ring, and having had the time to ruminate on his place in the fighting universe.
Lopez the elder appeared on camera, after promoter Bob Arum offered praise to interviewer Bernardo Osuna for Loma’s stoppage of Nakatani.
If you recall, Team Teofimo and Top Rank had not been on the best of terms as negotiations for a mandatory Teofimo scrap against George Kambosos Jr played out. The terms of the match were set only after the principals went to purse bid, where jaws hit floors as Triller bid $6 million for the fight, far and away the highest sum. It got ugly, actually, as news leaked that Top Rank executive Todd duboef had reached out to higher-ups at DAZN, in a bid to keep them out of the purse auction.
Lopez and company thought that was dirty pool, and the young fighter made clear his boundaries. But some time passed, emotions got soothed, or at least soothed enough for Top Rank and the Lopez team to come together and hash out terms for a new contract. Teofimo now felt appreciated, as his guarantees were upped, and so it was assumed he’d do his thing against Kambosos on June 19 and then move back to Top Rank shows.
On Saturday, it felt like we got an assurance that Teofimo would be fighting Lomachenko for a second time. Promoter Arum told Osuna that he’d been in discussions with interested parties in various locales, out of the country, and that it’s clear there is heavy interest in Lopez-Loma 2. Arum announced that it was his duty to keep the fighters who are seeking premium purses satisfied, and he said that provided Teofimo handles Kambosos, a date and site will be firmed for Loma’s chance to show the world that the 2020 result was a fluke.
“It’s my job and duty to bring them together for the fight everyone wants to see,” Arum told Osuna. “There will be a winner and a loser, but there will be two rich guys when the thing’s over.”
Arum said that he had Teofimo to his house to do the contract amendment, and the fighter said no problem, he was down to battle Loma again.
Then Teofimo’s father came into Arum’s view, and the promoter invited him on camera. Lopez communicated that he’s thinking we see his boy fight Loma in New York this December. Arum didn’t say no to that, but he didn’t say yes, which makes sense, because he has leverage in placing that fight. Let the bids come forth, that is his point of view.
Lopez admitted that he’d not been keen on a rematch, but, “I think I could convince my son to fight him again.” Arum peered at the father as he spoke, a bemused look on his face. You sensed he appreciated how the Teofimo’s pops was trying to help hype the pre-promotion, and how he looked to conjure some drama by conveying that he’d need to convince his son to take this path.
Hey, December works for me if it works for them. Say the Lopez-Kambosos bout happens in September, as is the most recent word. Teofimo could come back to the ring for a December rumble.
Lomachenko was asked about how a sequel strikes him, and he didn’t pretend to be too cool for school, he’s stated he wants another crack at Lopez since right after the first go. Early next year struck him as a sensible time frame for Lopez-Loma 2.
Interestingly, ESPN analyst Andre Ward said aloud that he didn’t think that rematch would happen, but that he very much did want to see it. He didn’t offer a theory as to why he thought this best laid plan would fall to the wayside.
Back to Teofimo’s dad; he sounded just as open to seeing Teofimo vs Loma again when he spoke to Elie Seckbach and Steve Kim after the on-camera with Osuna and Arum.
“I think this time it’s going to be easier,” he said. But, the father/trainer stated, Teofimo is almost grown out of the 135 lb class. Kambosos first, then Loma, and then Teofimo will jet to 140, in all probability.
Hey, you all know boxing. “In all probability” very, very often doesn’t come to pass. A holiday hoedown at MSG topped by Lopez-Loma 2 would be a sweet stocking stuffer to me, but I’ll not get my hopes too high just yet. I’ve grabbed for candy canes and picked up a handful of coal too many times in my stint on Earth.