“You know, my father said to me when I was a kid,” If you are strong, show your weakness, but if you are weak, show your strength. “In this case, objectively and subjectively, they are clearly trying to show their strength.
“A strong person will never yell about it, and never try to insult someone. This person will do it silently and prove it with their actions, not with words.”
This is what Vasily Lomachenko told via Teofimo Lopez in April 2019, long before the two signed for the fight. Lomachenko-Lopez’s fuss was growing even then. Lopez, a young powerhouse player, did not win his first world title. But he was calling Luchenko. There was actually a real hatred between the two.
Lomachenko, for whom English is a second language, is not very explicit in interviews in this language, which is understandable, and even what he means is often not as concise or clear as he might like. But in his native language, he was totally clear about Lopez.
“I will hold him responsible in this fight for every word said.”
Eight months later, Lopez won the International Boxing Federation title after winning the second round by knockout to Richard Comey, a tough and tested veteran. Now, 10 months later, the fighting continues. On Saturday, October 17th (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET), Le Machinko and Lopez met three world titles at stake.
Loma-Lopez was supposed to happen in the spring, although it was not officially signed before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the sport to close from mid-March to mid-June. There were issues in the negotiations, but none of these matters anymore. The bottom line is that the battle is taking place. It’s the kind of match that we always want to see more of in boxing.
From a fan standpoint, this fight will probably be the most anticipated of 2020. It may not have the overall appeal of a fight like Wilder-Fury 2 in February, but it also won’t be underpaid. Show, which means easy exposure, and the fight has been heavily promoted by ESPN. It’s a big fight, and it has some occasional / mainstream appeal.
It’s also just an easy sale as an attraction. World’s Best Lightweight, Offensive and Defensive Combat Warlock, 32 years old and still in his prime, but maybe at his end soon. It also happens to be the public choice for first place in the world in terms of pound for pound, and he claimed two Olympic golds as one of the best amateur fighters of all time. He encounters a tough 23-year-old man of agility, skills and great personality.
How to watch the match Lomachenko and Lopez
History: Saturday 17 October | Start time: 10:00 PM ET (Primary Card) / 7:30 PM ET (Prelims)
Your location: MGM Top Rank Bubble, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: ESPN (Primary Card) | Stream: ESPN + (Prelims)
When Lomachenko became a pro in October 2013, he did so with a lot of hype and hype, and he didn’t come to fight rubbing either. Jose Luis Ramirez wasn’t a superstar, but he had a 25-3 professional record and was knocking out a decent win over Rey Bautista.
Lomachenko defeated him at four, and earned a slight WBO featherweight belt, which means a high WBO rating, which means the Ukrainian can achieve his true goal: a world title in his second professional fight. He had a chance to play ruthless veteran Orlando Salido in March 2014. Salido lost weight (a lot), but the fight continued.
Salido gave Machenko some valuable lessons in that battle. A wonderful talent as Lomachenko was and still is, the game of the pro is not an amateur game, and Salido (41-12-2 at the time, better than the record) was able to beat Loma and do some effective “dirty” work. Lomachenko pauses in the fighting and made some adjustments, but still abandons the decision to just split.
Luma changed a little, however, for the better as a fighter. He knocked out after three months and fought Gary Russell Jr. for the vacant belt that Salido lost on Libra, overcoming a cool fighter by decision. Since then, almost every fight has been about Lomachenko. He was controlling men so poorly at the age of 126 that he had to move to 130 to find good fights. He did the same at that weight, and in 2018 he moved up to 135.
Jorge Linares gave a tough test on Lomchenko and even went down in May 2018 when Loma went lightweight, but in the end Lomachenko was doing well again, holding off the skilled Venezuelan at 10., too, and he followed that up with two wins in 2019 over Anthony Crowula and Luke Campbell. He was a crowd favorite in Crolla, and Campbell won out of the box on the road in London.
In terms of skill, it’s arguably nobody boxing at Lomachenko’s level, and I definitely think there’s no one in lightweight, including Teofimo Lopez.
But it won’t always be just skills. Teofimo Lopez has some advantages on paper.
As mentioned earlier, Lopez is nine years younger than Lomachenko – young, but he’s not so young that he’s very green, or at least that’s his team’s hope. There have been comparisons to the 2013 fight where Floyd Mayweather faced Canelo Alvarez, and while Lopez is clearly turning that down, it’s not unreasonable to have you up front.
Mayweather was 36 when he fought 23-year-old Canelo. Floyd was unbeaten at 44-0, but he was fighting a young, skillful and powerful man, whose body was naturally slightly larger. Alvarez was better suited to the 154-pound section (actually a 152-pound hunting weight) than Mayweather, but it was a big fight to do, and they achieved it.
Although the fight returned to Mayweather’s majority decision, it was a clear win for Floyd. Alvarez went through a few moments, but even many of them felt as though Mayweather gave a little respite to figure out a few things. Alvarez and his team made a bizarre decision to try to get Mayweather out, which was clearly not and never will be. Canelo was and still is a good boxer, and he has improved with all of that since losing to Floyd, but Mayweather was a master.
If Lopez tries to outrun Lopez or overtake him in maneuverability, it would probably be a really bad idea. This does not mean that he cannot try to prepare him for things, try to feed him, try to corner him sometimes, but it cannot be Plan A, and if for some reason, it is better to have a really, really good plan B. And maybe c and d as well.
Lopez, like Canelo, isn’t brave or anything else. He has boxing ability, hand speed, punches well, and arranges things well. But he will not be outdone Lomachenko.
What he might try is the box With Lomachenko suffices to create his expected great advantage: pure raw power. If he managed to bring Lomachenko into commerce, he might find a home for something massive. Lomachenko is not naturally lightweight. He’s legitimately small at 135 pounds, and it’s reasonable enough to wonder if he can take consistently strong shots of Lopez, a serious puncher of that weight.
Lopez, number two in 135 now, wants the crown. He wants to be that supreme man, that star, he wants to be the man to take down the king. Personally, I feel that Lopez’s ego – a healthy thing for any fighter or any professional athlete to possess, at least to some extent – is too big to accept, say, around the eighth or ninth round. Don’t defeat this guy, if things go bad, and call the phone for the rest of the fight. If he has a sense that things are urgent, I would expect Lopez to put it all to the test.
This is boxing a must-watch, a must-watch sport, and television a must-watch. This kind of match, no matter how it turns out, is the thing that raises the bar again, even if it’s only on the weekend, it’s the “big” kind that this sport does better than any other game when it gets it all. Every now and then.