On Saturday night, one of the most anticipated bouts of the year and without question the most anticipated bout since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will take place, as top Lightweights Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) will do battle live and free on ESPN in a must-see title unification bout.
The 32-year-old Lomachenko, one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound talents, has risen through the professional ranks after a lengthy and wildly successful amateur career. As a professional, the Ukrainian-born fighter known as “Hi-Tech” has compiled a 14-1 record that includes victories over notable names like Guillermo Rigondeux, Jorge Linares, Jose Pedraza, and Luke Campbell.
In addition, Lomachenko is a three-weight world champion who currently holds the WBA (Super), WBO, and Ring Lightweight titles in addition to being known as the WBC Franchise champion.
Lopez, meanwhile, is a brash and outspoken 23-year-old native of Brooklyn who’s seen as one of boxing’s top young talents. With a record of 15-0 with 12 knockouts, Lopez, the current IBF 135-pound champion, is coming off a second-round destruction of Richard Commey, which was his most impressive victory to date.
Stylistically, Lomachenko, who primarily fights out of a southpaw stance, is known as a highly-skilled boxer with elite-level technique, movement and footwork, which was developed through years of training in Ukrainian dance, a path he was encouraged to take by his father/trainer Anatoly Lomachenko.
Lomachenko is also known for the creative angles he uses to attack and for his ability to break down an opponent in a variety of different ways from all levels. While he may not necessarily be known as a knockout artist or as the most powerful puncher, he certainly has the ability to finish fights, as his skill and intelligence is often used to pick opponents apart and overwhelm them before closing the show.
Lopez, who also trains under the tutelage of his father, Teofimo Sr., is known more for his strength, aggression and power. While obviously highly skilled, the Brooklyn native appears to be more of a puncher as opposed to Lomachenko, who’s known more as a technical boxer.
A fast starter with a powerful right hand, 12 of Lopez’s 15 victories have come via T/KO and all of them have ended in less than eight rounds. He’s also the larger fighter and will hold a reach advantage over Lomachenko.
Ultimately, many experts see this fight going one of two ways. Lomachenko, for example, will likely look to avoid Lopez’s power early before implementing his game plan, movement, creativity and pure boxing skills to break down his opponent throughout the middle and later rounds. Lopez, meanwhile, will likely look to make things a bit uglier, using his aggression and size to find openings and land big shots.
The question, however, is which fighter will be able to control the pace and distance in which the fight is fought at?
In his last fight, for example, Lomachenko appeared to get hit more often than usual despite convincingly beating Campbell. That could cause him problems against Lopez, however.
And Lopez, despite seeing a ton of success through 15 fights, has never fought a pugilist the caliber of Lomachenko. After his victory over Masayoshi Nakatani just about a year and a half ago, some even wondered whether he had what it took to compete at the highest level.
The unknowns surrounding this fight is what makes it so special and in the end, lightweight supremacy will be determined on what should turn out to be a great night for the sport of boxing as well as for its fans.