Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) came into his fight against Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) with everything to gain. An undisputed 135 pound title, stardom and a potential spot on some people’s pound-for-pound lists. He delivered.
Rounds 1-4 saw Lomachenko beginning to establish a familiar pattern. One in which he gives up rounds in a fight for the sake of gathering data to create and execute his own game plan. Lopez stalked the tightly guarded Loma, landing body shots when he could.
They were few and far between, and never in combination, but they landed hard. The third and fourth rounds especially saw Lopez stepping up his aggression and going at Loma.
His speed and size showed throughout, as his straight punches repeatedly pierced Loma’s guard, keeping the Ukrainian on the defensive. Even more impressive was Lopez’ ability to consistently step with his man as he angled to either side, nullifying a huge advantage.
40-36 for Lopez after four.
The middle third of the fight saw shifts in momentum and flashes from both men, which showed why they are so highly regarded. In Rounds 5 and 6, Lopez showed discipline to his game plan, which belied his young age. He gradually stepped up the aggression and won the two rounds decisively, including a big right hand to punctuate the first half of the fight.
In the seventh and eighth, Loma seemed to come alive. He began throwing in combination, dodging Lopez’ return fire, while displaying some of the angles that have gotten him to this point. The eighth round was especially impressive, considering how the bout had been going. Lomachenko moved less, and was willing to exchange heavy shots. He got the better of many of the exchanges, which resulted in swelling over Lopez’ left eye.
Sometimes, in the middle of a boxing match, a fight breaks out. 78-74 for Lopez through eight.
Like most impactful title fights, this one was won in the final third. Lomachenko had come alive, but only time would tell if the youth of Lopez would afford him the energy and fire to execute when it counted.
From the ninth to the 11th, Lomachenko continued to build on his momentum. Lopez was always dangerous, but Lomachenko’s timing was improving by the second. Lomachenko peppered his younger opponent with combinations for the majority of those three rounds.
Though he was taking return punishment, it was obvious who the winner of those rounds was. In the 11th round, Lomachenko even managed to momentarily stagger his man–to the point where Lopez was grabbing and trying to hold on.
The 12th round showed who wanted it more, however. Lopez came out with renewed energy and brought pressure from the opening bell. He went right at Loma, despite instructions from his corner to stay back and box. Lopez may have been right to ignore them.
Lomachenko landed lightning right jabs and combinations of his own, but it was not enough to keep the younger champion off of him, or enough to keep him from getting staggered himself. Teofimo Lopez took the round, which gave him the fight on my card: 115-113.
The official scorecards were much wider and read 116-112, 117-111 and 119-109. Even if one were to rightfully wonder what the third judge, Julie Lederman, was watching, boxing fans can at least take solace in the fact that the right man was awarded the victory.
At 23, with the WBC (Franchise), WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine Lightweight titles, and newfound stardom, Teofimo Lopez has the world at his feet. Only time will tell what his next move will be.