Teofimo Lopez and his father Teofimo the elder talked mountains of smack, for years, and spoke their way into a fight with a man many folks said was the best pound for pounder in the game, Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Be careful what you ask for, kid, you might get it, that was the wisdom dispensed from plenty of pundits heading into the MGM “Bubble” Saturday night, in Las Vegas, and on ESPN.
But Lopez backed up every bit of shit talk, and won round after round in Vegas. You wondered, when would Lomachenko get busy, stop letting the kid bank rounds. He never really did, because Lopez had hand speed, and patience, and power–and everything. He had the better game plan, too, because Lomachenko figured he could drag the young gun into the deep water, then drown him when he wanted to.
Loma underestimated Lopez, and we underestimated the judges, who got it right. I saw it 9-3 for Teofimo, but thought the arbiters would lean in the direction of the old master. Nope; Julie Lederman (119-109), Tim Cheatham (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (117-111) proved their mettle, by giving Teofimo due credit.
After 12 rounds of a fight that no, was not a classic, because Lomachenko simply watched and moved and took in the data, and didn’t throw shots, the judges got it right.
Lopez out-landed Loma, 184 to 141, and threw maybe 300 more punches than the loser.
The WBA/WBC/WBO/RING lightweight champ Lomachenko (from Ukraine; 135 pounds; age 32) came in 14-1, while the IBF champ Lopez (born in Brooklyn; 135 pounds; age 23) came in 15-0.
After the win, Teofimo thanked God, and then again. “I had to dig deep, man. I’m thankful. I’m grateful. And each and every day, I take that in. I thank God first because I couldn’t do it without him. I’m a fighter. I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn’t know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight. I can bang, too. I don’t care, man. I’ll take one to give one. That’s what a true champion does. I find a way to win.” What was the key to the win? “You just gotta keep pressuring him, press the gas, stick the jab and don’t really give him that opportunity to set up. Every time he did want to throw, I had something ready for him.” And what’s next? “Man, take me to 140. Or I could fight the two-time email world champion Devin Haney if they want that.”
In the first, Loma just watched, waited, took in info, gauged hand speed, tendencies of movement, etc.
In the second, Loma moved more, made himself harder to hit, and then with ten seconds left, showed off his hand speed.
In round three, it was more of the same, and we wondered, when would Loma step on that gas. He never did, not enough to sway the judges. There were pockets, in round 11 you thought maybe he was going to pile up combos, and maybe score a walk off grand slam-bang finshing rat-a-tat.
He didn’t, and in fact, Lopez worked harder in round 12, and took that last round.
Lopez went over to hug Loma after the final bell, looked for a hug, an acknowledgement that he was hyping the fight with all that shit talk…but Loma seemed to want nothing to do with it. Loma then left the ring, after the decision was announced. Was he embarrassed? Whatever it was, it was poor form, he showed in that moment that Teofimo the elders’ slaps aboput his arrogance, or what have you, weren’t conjured out of thin air.