Boxing isn't great at learning lessons. Sometimes the sports' power brokers do learn a hard lesson, and they make sounds like they will fix things..and then, most often, they fail to follow through, leaving even its most ardent supporters questioning their commitment to a sport that unfortunately in recent times, has taken more than it has given us.
Here's hoping that powers that be will have seen the Teofimo Lopez win over Vasiliy Lomachenko, and they will take away some lessons from that. Like what?
Teofimo dared to be great. To put into comparison the magnitude of Teofimo Lopez's historic victory, scan the landscape that surrounds him of those in and around his weight class. Tank Davis is scheduled to box former multi divisional champion Leo Santa Cruz. It looks sexy on paper but the reality is Santa Cruz has never ever boxed at 135, is moving up and is more suited to the 126 or 130 weight classes. This is in addition to the fact Tank Davis has not fought an opponent ranked in the top 10 of either the TBRB or the Ring since Jose Pedraza. That's over three years ago. Devin Haney is fighting the corpse of Yuri Gamboa and has been awarded the title via email – twice. Ryan Garcia is stepping up big, versus Luke Campbell, but that is the kind of fight which almost necessitates for young Ryan to win in order to keep chase.
And what does Teofimo himself think? Well, he called the upcoming Tank v Santa Cruz fight “sad.” He verbally assaulted Haney by labelling him “an email world champion.” His promoter Bob Arum is willing to work with Oscar and Golden Boy to match Ryan Garcia against Lopez but again that hinges entirely on King Ry’s ability to win in December. Lopez has been bandied around with the possibility of a Lomachenko 2. And what does the champ himself seek? A full on undisputed v undisputed clash with the winner of Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez at 140.
Teofimo can't stay waiting on these guys to play catch up with him. Why should he? This isn't Brooklyn talk but also Brooklyn walk and right now, he's done more in one victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko than what those guys have done over several divisions and years as professionals.
Teofimo Lopez is the latest in a long line of champions hailing from Brooklyn, New York. There's just something in that part of the city which oozes boxing glory and armed with a Hispanic following and a scarcely believable age of 23, this kid is a star amongst boxing constellation of elite.
If there's one thing I hope comes from this, it's that the culture of boxing changes from this moment on.
The Lopez’ dared to be great because they believed in themselves and it goes to show how powerful belief is. They believed when everyone else didn't. And the manner of the performance was simply sublime. I mean, they outboxed the master tactician, the guy ranked as boxing's best mind who carried with him two gold medals, titles in three divisions and a 396-1 record in the unpaid amateurs – and Lopez made him look …. basic. Ordinary. And to do it for the UNDISPUTED championship? At the age of 23!? That's an incredible feat no matter how you look at it. Both father and son talked a big game and they willed it into existence. Now we can only hope more guys step up earlier or better, when the times/primes are right and not when the clocks sail by. Let's hope more fighters take it upon themselves to start rolling the dice and taking life changing gambles because we as boxing fans deserve and demand for the best to fight the best – when it matters. We've seen Golden Boy work with Top Rank and ESPN and we've seen ESPN and PBC/FOX join forces. It's time to give the people what they want, the fans what they pay for and the shot in the arm the sport deserves.
If the likes of Lomachenko and Usyk paved the way for guys like Shakur Stevenson and Teofimo Lopez and Naoya Inoue to grab titles in the quickest amount of fights as possible then there's the hope such guys as Stevenson and Lopez will not only shoot for the stars earlier but against the brightest. It's refreshing to hear Lopez talk about his lofty ambitions or how Inoue and Stevenson et al want to unify ASAP.
We pray there's no more ducking or diving or dodging now.
No more “I'm not ready” or “I will do what my promoter decides” or the “other side of the street” or “marination.”
It's time to let these young dogs off the leash and help bring forth a much needed culture change in boxing.