Saturday night in Las Vegas will see the IBF, WBO and WBA super lightweight titles contested, in a superfight showdown between Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez.
Forget the shabby boxing politics which meant that neither BT nor Sky were willing to broadcast this contest – one which is far better, ‘on paper’, than anything that either British broadcaster has subjected us to over these past coronavirus-blighted months – this is legitimate matchmaking, and an encounter between one of (if not the) most successful amateur boxers of all time; a man with a technical skillset which is only a shade or two removed from consummate perfection, Vasyl Lomachenko; and the current IBF world lightweight champion and human wrecking ball, Teofimo Lopez.
Lopez has 12 KO victories upon his unblemished 15-0 professional record. He comes into the contest having overwhelmed the respectable Ghanaian contender Richard Commey (29-3) in two rounds last December. Meanwhile Lomachenko continues to bounce from legacy-defining superfight to superfight, and comes into the contest with successive victories, dating back to 2018, over Jorge Linares (44-3), Jose Pedraza (25-1), Anthony Crolla (34-6-3) and Luke Campbell (20-2).
One of the most intriguing aspects of this contest pertains to the corners, specifically the head trainers, Anatoly Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez Sr., who are both the fathers of their respective charges. Both amateur boxers before reinvesting their own manqué aspirations into their sons, this contest is therefore as much between their contrasting methods, styles, philosophies and cultures than it is between the colliding fists of their offspring.
Indeed, this fight is perhaps only occurring due to Lopez Sr., and certainly first only exploded into the public consciousness when he began ranting at Lomachenko Jr., insisting that his son would beat him. That was back in 2018, when Lopez defeated Mason Menard (34-3) in just 44 seconds on the undercard of Lomachenko’s Madison Square Garden title fight against the aforementioned Jose Pedraza. It was in crossing paths with the WBO and WBA super champion then, that Lopez Jr. claims to have developed his dislike of the Ukrainian, stating, obliquely: ‘He really think he is a god in this sport. I don’t like him, and I have my reasons why.’
The build-up on this occasion has seen Lopez suggest that Lomachenko’s comparatively advanced age will prove disadvantageous, a hindrance that sees him continually refer to his opponent as the ‘old lion’ and one which he predicts he will overcome by knock out. Conversely, Lomachenko, a veteran of 15 professional fights and a staggering 397 amateur contests, and still only 32 years old, remains undeterred by such a boastful claim, yet subtly though visibly irked by the suggestions that he is displaying any age-related decline. In the characteristically, dry, matter-of-fact manner with which many Eastern Europeans converse, he told the recently-gathered press that ‘Whilst this will not be easy…it is not personal. I feel great, and I feel young…He holds the IBF belt and I need this belt. On Saturday, October 17th, I will try and take this belt.’
Tune in on Saturday to see whether he succeeds in this desired endeavour.
As with previous superfights, the courageous team at ESBR have boldly broken from the self-effaced anonymity, which is objective boxing journalism, to publicly declare their own personal fight predictions. And these are thus(!):
Sean Bastow (@seanbtrboxing) – Lomachenko UD. Whilst Lopez brings the ferocity and punch power to match, Lomachenko's ability to adapt to any given situation will prove a telling factor come fight night. I believe that Lopez will cause some early puzzles for Lomachenko to solve and solve them he will in the way of a unanimous decision.
Thomas Cathey (@tcathey1196) – Lomachenko UD. Teofimo Lopez may be one of Lomachenko’s most physically talented opponents yet, with tremendous speed and power. But Loma’s boxing IQ and experience will most likely carry the day. I have Lomachenko winning, UD.
Greg Doyle (@GND1989) – Lomachenko KO 9-10. Loma will just be too experienced for Lopez. Shots that Lopez has been landing won’t land on Lomachenko, and I expect him to get frustrated letting Loma break him down and stop him in convincing fashion late on.
Alan Drewett Jr. (@alandrewettjnr) – Lomachenko KO 10-12. The man has been making top quality opponents look ordinary and I expect nothing less here. Lopez will be stubborn and give Loma a tough night, but I expect the Ukrainian to be too much on the night. Loma by late stoppage – 10-12th round.
Liam Gilsenan (@LGilsenan1) – Lomachenko UD. Lomachenko, for me, is the best boxer in the world right now. I think Lopez is a terrific prospect and his time will come but it won’t be against Loma. Loma will show his matrix like footwork and his perfect punch selection to dominate large parts of the fight. Lopez will have his moments, but it won’t be enough. If he gets hurt or goes down, it will be new territory for the youngster which could prove pivotal.
Elliott Grigg (@elliottgrigg) – Lomachenko KO 7-9. It will take someone brave or deluded to bet against Lomachenko, and I am (sadly) far too middle of the road for that sort of hi-jinks. Lopez has simply never fought someone of the elite calibre of Loma, whereas, since turning professional, Lomachenko has outboxed, outpointed, stopped and prevailed against an elite roster of opponents. He’ll be in for an exacting night and may have to weather some torrid exchanges early, but I expect him to outthink, frustrate, grind down and ultimately stop Lopez, somewhere in the middle rounds.
Paul Kelly (@paulkelly98) – Lomachenko KO 9-10. Whilst I can see Lopez enjoying early success, as the fight progresses, I feel that Lomachenko will break him down and eventually stop him, late on.
Eliot Stott (@EliotStott1) – Lomachenko KO 8-10. It reminds me of Mayweather vs Canelo to be honest. Lopez is clearly a great fighter and I think will go on to unify divisions over the next few years but now isn’t quite his time. Loma may lose some of the early rounds, but I expect him to show his pedigree & overall big fight experience, stopping Lopez between rounds 8-10.
Doey Thomas (xDoey) – Lomachenko UD. I think this one could be fight of the year! While Lopez is clearly the real deal, I think Lomachenko will find a solution to every question Lopez asks of him. I think it will be competitive but feel Loma will do enough to edge rounds, ultimately winning by a few-round margin.