Coming off a triumphant victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko last October that earned him the IBF, WBO, WBA, WBC Franchise and The Ring Magazine Lightweight titles, 23-year-old rising star Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) has big plans for 2021.
There’s no shortage of great fights to be made in a loaded 135-pound division that includes Lopez, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Ryan Garcia, and Devin Haney. And although the Brooklyn native feels like he’s the top dog at Lightweight, these are the type of fights he’s after.
“I’m the king of the group when it comes to boxing,” Lopez said in a recent interview with ESPN. “Those guys have their own platforms that they use, and it’s working for them. It generates more for all of us when the time comes for us all to face each other. That’s what it’s all about. The Lightweight division is hot right now. You got Garcia, Tank, and Haney; hopefully, we can make these fights happen this year instead of just talking about it.”
Before those fights can take place, however, Lopez will next take on his IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. in a bout that’s expected to take place sometime this spring in the United States. While that fight may not be his top option, Lopez respects Kambosos’ position as his mandatory.
“I have to pay my respect to Kambosos,” said Lopez. “He fought his way up, the same way I had to fight my way up to be IBF Lightweight world champion before I got to the point where I fought Vasiliy Lomachenko. I’ll deal with that process first, negotiate, see what happens, and if they agree with all the terms, that will have to be the guy. It’s not because it’s who I want but because it’s my mandatory.”
After that, however, his focus will shift back to the bigger picture, which not only includes fights against his fellow stars at 135-pounds but a quest to be undisputed at Junior Welterweight as well.
“Devin Haney first. Then Garcia or Tank, probably at 140,” he said. “And Josh Taylor-Jose Ramirez winner at 140. The winner of that fight becomes undisputed at that weight division, and I’m trying to go back-to-back [being undisputed] at 135 and 140. It’s never been done before, and that’s what I love. I love doing things that have never been done before.”
Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez are expected to battle to determine an undisputed 140-pound champion in the coming months. Given that Lopez’s promoter, Top Rank, also promotes both Taylor and Ramirez, a move up in weight to challenge the winner of that fight is certainly a possibility down the road for Lopez.
As of now, however, the unified 135-pound champion has a mandatory challenger waiting for him. After that, though, there’s nothing but options for one of boxing’s brightest young stars.