It wasn’t that we thought Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) couldn’t win.
We certainly knew it was a possibility, which is why his Lightweight title unification bout against three-belt champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), who many had considered to be one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, this past Saturday in Las Vegas was so highly anticipated.
What was surprising, however, is how the 23-year-old from Brooklyn got it done.
Many had assumed that he would need to use his power to hurt and finish Lomachenko in order to get his hand raised. Instead, it was his timing, speed, boxing ability and intelligence that led him to a clear unanimous decision victory.
Throughout the first half of the fight, Lomachenko seemed as if he had no answers for Lopez. In fact, he was incredibly inactive and didn’t do too much of anything until it was too late. He ended up finding some success in the later rounds, but a strong final round from Lopez put a stamp on what was undoubtedly a career-defining victory.
It was a historic victory as well, as Lopez became the only four-belt champion in the history of the Lightweight division. He also became the youngest four-belt champion in any division in the history of boxing.
With the win under his belt and a stack of Lightweight titles in his possession, the future is undoubtedly bright for one of boxing’s top rising stars. And when it comes to what could be next for Lopez, there’s no denying that he has options.
A rematch against Lomachenko, for example, would obviously be an option. While the majority agreed that Lopez was the deserving winner, it also seemed as if many agreed that the fight was a bit closer than what the judges scored. Lomachenko’s slow start also plays a factor and raises the question of what the fight would’ve looked like had he found his groove earlier.
Lopez, however, doesn’t seem to be too interested in this idea and it’s important to note that there wasn’t a rematch clause in the contract, making this option seem unlikely in the immediate future.
“For what? For what?,” asked Lopez during the press conference [via BoxingScene.com]. “I beat him, and I did everything that I had to [do] to beat him. If anything, it’ll happen again, the same thing. There was no rematch clause for a reason. Now I can talk my sh-t. They had it pretty much where they didn’t give me a rematch clause for a reason.
“And they gave me a contract on the side, pretty much saying, like, ‘If you lose, this is what you’re gonna get for your next fights,’ pretty much predicting that I’m gonna lose. It’s fine. Now, you know, they’ve just gotta eat it up, suck it up. And now it’s time for us to take over and move forward. That’s it. I told y’all, man, out with the old, in the with new.”
Lomachenko is far from the only option at 135 pounds, however, and there are other intriguing names for Lopez to consider moving forward.
For example, Devin Haney, the WBC Lightweight titleholder, would be an exciting opponent for Lopez should he get by an aging Yuriorkis Gamboa on November 7. The two have mentioned a potential fight over the last few days as well.
In addition, the winner of December 5’s fight between Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell will be a name to watch, as will Gervonta Davis if he can successfully defend his WBA (Regular) Lightweight title against battle-tested veteran, Leo Santo Cruz on October 31.
Simply put, there’s no shortage of possibilities for Lopez to consider in the stacked Lightweight division. The only issue, however, is that “The Takeover” may not stick around all that long, as he’s openly talked about the difficulties that come with cutting down to 135 pounds and his interest in moving up to the Junior Welterweight division.
And should he decide to make that decision, there’s no doubt he’d have his eyes on the winner of an upcoming bout between two-belt champions Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor, which will unify the division and determine an undisputed titleholder.
Given Lopez’s recent win, a fight between him and the winner of Ramirez vs. Taylor would be massive as it’d match an undisputed champion from one division moving up to take on an undisputed champion from another division.
All three fighters are promoted by Top Rank too, which would make negotiations easier.
The only issue with this idea, according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, is the timetable.
“If he goes to 140, he has a problem because obviously he wants to fight for a title and that’s taken up for the first half of next year,” Arum said via ESPN referring to the impending showdown between Taylor and Ramirez in 2021. “And then the winner of that fight has an obligation to fight [the WBO mandatory challenger Jack] Catterall.
“So you’re looking for, at best, the end of next year for him to fight for a 140-pound title.”
As of now, Lopez is likely just enjoying the fruits of his labor. But given the four titles he just acquired and his growing star power, he’ll soon become a target and a decision will need to be made on what’s next.
Luckily for him, however, he has options to choose from.