This Saturday night, Top Rank will be hosting an event at “The Mecca of Boxing,” which is Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The main event will feature WBO Welterweight champion Terrence “Bud” Crawford (35-0) defending his title against Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1) live on ESPN.
Although this will be a great fight, the boxing world has its eyes set on the co-main event, which features IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey (29-2) going up against the undefeated Teofimo Lopez (14-0).
If you are Top Rank, you have to love the fact that the winner of this fight will then face arguably the top pound for pound fighter in the sport by the name of Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (14-1) in what will be a tremendous unification fight currently rumored for Super Bowl weekend.
Back to Commey versus Lopez, which is a great matchup and truly defines the saying ”styles make fights.” Let’s get into how this fight sizes up and what to look for on Saturday night.
The IBF Champion Richard Commey is a tough, strong lightweight who always comes prepared to battle. Commey had back-to-back losses in 2016 (one of them being to former lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr.) and only fought once in 2017. In 2018, he only fought twice and it seemed as if he was getting stung with the inactivity bug but this year, he got right back on it and is fighting for the third time.
In February, Commey won by way of TKO to win his now current title. Things were fine until he met the crafty veteran Ray Beltran who definitely gave him something to think about along with a swollen right eye before Commey knocked him out. I was there the night of the Beltran fight ringside and couldn’t understand how Commey was allowing Beltran to land those left hooks at will but he survived it and came away with the victory.
Richard Commey is going to use his aggressive style to try to make things uncomfortable for Lopez while trying to land those 4, 5, 6 punch combinations that he is well known for. When Commey is on, he has that good stiff left jab working while giving good feints and moving forward, making his opponent move back and throw from awkward angles.
The only issue I see with Commey is that at times he can be off balance and tends to try to slug it out and outwork his opponent. This could be good but it can also be a bad thing to do against the younger Lopez.
Teofimo Lopez is everything you want to see in a young fighter, which are skills, looks and a ton of personality. All of these things will lead you to stardom if appropriately managed and you continue to score highlight reel victories.
Lopez has been really busy since turning pro, which saw him fight six times in 2017, four times in 2018 and will be fighting for the fourth time in 2019. For a fighter with only fourteen professional fights, Lopez has fought six times at the Garden, which is something that most fighters dream of doing at least once in their career.
The highlight reel knockouts came fast for Lopez but question marks started to arise when he faced Masayoshi Nakatani (18-0) in his last fight. Lopez had to really dig deep to pull out the unanimous decision victory and set himself up for this title shot. With rumors of personal issues looming in the background, it was clear that Lopez was fighting distracted and did not perform to the best of his abilities.
With that being said, Top Rank sent him to New Jersey for training camp which also saw some new people injected into the training regime in an effort to maintain Lopez’ focus for this fight.
Lopez is a smart fighter, a really good counter puncher and when on, one of the best at the “catch & shoot.” He is able to find those holes in his opponent's defense quickly, which leads to those knockouts mentioned earlier. Against Commey, Lopez will have to use his opponent’s aggressive style against him and land his shots when in the right position to do so. Lopez will have opportunities to land but the question will be whether his power will be enough to keep Commey off of him. If Lopez can land those left hooks that Beltran was able to on Commey, maybe we don’t reach the final bell in the twelfth round. My only concern is that Lopez keeps his hands down at times and that can be problematic against a guy like Commey.
I truly believe this fight has the potential to be a “fight of the year” candidate and will make a run at stealing the show. There is a lot at stake this Saturday night and what bigger stage to have it than at MSG on ESPN.
Will Richard Commey take out his frustration of being disrespected as a champion during this promotion and it lead to a huge victory and future payday? Does Teofimo Lopez put on a career defining performance that leads to him calling out “Hi-Tech” after the fight while disrespecting him and setting off the promo train for their unification bout right away?
Whatever you do, you ABSOLUTELY do not want to miss this exciting title fight on ESPN, which will be live at 9pm EST/ 6pm PST.