Some said a star was born Saturday, Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden.
The signs were there years back. Managers and promoters wanted Teofimo Lopez, and they saw the building blocks, the intensity, drive, accuracy, hand speed, aggression, traits that could elevate the kid to superstar level.
Now, things need to play out. What stands out on paper needs to translate to the real life. Boxing is, what, 75% mental?
A fighter needs to have that head screwed on straight, because a distracted hitter, or a fighter who got depressed, like Mike Tyson, their gifts can get dulled.
You saw on Saturday night a head-screwed-on-straight Lopez (15-0 with 12 KOs), one relatively free of some of the distractive tugs that had hurt him the last couple of fights. Richard Commey, bless him, can attest, a mentally relaxed Lopez is a dangerous dude.
Will Vasyl Lomachenko (14-1; age 31) be left thinking the same thing, if the lightweight scrap between the Ukrainian pugilist-specialist with the majestic marriage of feet and hands and the young gun who seeks to violently wrest the baton from the elder pack leader gets made for April?
Sounds like it, if you interpreted Lopez’ hit on the Everlast Talkbox podcast as I did.
I asked Teofimo, are we on track to see a collision between Lopez and Loma, in April as is rumored?
Top Rank promotes both athletes, that can help clear the track for a bad-blood technical rumble…
“I’d love for it be back home in Madison Square Garden, back in NY, that’d be great,” Lopez said.
Deeper talks will occur after the holidays. April 11, more likely April 18, he said. “The ony thing now is the location, how much we gonna get, is it gonna be PPV, is it not gonna be PPV,” he said.
“I don’t like him in general, I just don’t like him as a person, or anything, that’s just me…there is gonna be bad blood, bad tension. I think that’s what the fans like, too,” he said, chuckling. Lopez said he has different sides. Him and Commey were totally cool, he respects Commey. But he knows Richard wanted to smash him, and vice versa. He clicks into beast mode, he said, because a foe is seeking to take food of his table.
I asked for it. Give me a prediction, Lopez versus Lomachenko? “I’m gonna knock the fucker out,” Lopez said, with a dark and genial chuckle. “I don’t like his ass. I don’t fuckin’ like him!”
Back to the Commey pitbullying. Lopez, age 22, grabbed with clear and nearly felonious intent the IBF 135 strap of the Ghanian boxer, and we asked him: did he really think him versus Commey was truly a 50-50 endeavor?
“It was preparation, man, nine weeks in camp, that’s what it’ll do for you,” Lopez said, “staying focused, keep your mind right, mentally healthy, physically happy. And then the rest, you just do it in the ring, Saturday night, this past Saturday, what I’m capable of doing.”
The Brooklyn born fighter said he trusted dad Teofimo Senior and Joey Gamache to come up with the game plan. No watching video for him. His dad told him, he said, to come up the middle, get inside of Commey’s wide shots. “Everything is straight down the middle,” dad told him.
And so was it a coinflip fight, truly? “Yeah of course, he’s a tough fighter, he’s dangerous,” he said. He knew Commey was dangerous but he figured his technique could be imposed upon the champ.
We talked about the future, the near future, which promises increased riches and fame. Will it change him? “No,” he said. He cited a Bob Marley quote, which had the Jamaican icon saying he dealt with fame by not allowing the trappings to get to his head.
Lopez ended with holiday greetings for all the listeners.
Talk to us…how far can he go?