Delayed and discussed, the fight everybody wants
By John J. Raspanti
The fighters want it. The fans want it. Is the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez fight imminent?
Yes and no.
“Loma-Lopez, we had scheduled it for Sept. 19 as the working date but now it will probably go on pay-per-view and that means the working date now is Oct. 3,” Arum told Dan Rafael of www.boxingscene.com.
The hope is that by October the pandemic Covid-19 will have slowed enough to allow “limited spectators.” But note that Arum included the word “probably” in his reply.
Lomachenko and Lopez have been yacking about the fight for months. Last week during an interview on DAZN, Lopez mocked Lomachenko’s latest comment.
“Hey boy,” said Lomachencko. “Go back to the boxing gym and be ready. I don’t care where it happens, even in your backyard.”
“I think he needs to talk to one of his social staff about to hit with better come back,” said Lopez. “That wasn’t that good.”
Trash talking in English is not the Ukrainian boxer’s thing.
Lomachenko, who twice captured gold at the Olympics, is arguably the best fighter in the world. He picked up a world title by defeating talented Gary Russell Jr. in his third professional fight. He added a second championship belt four years ago by scoring a highlight-reel knockout over Roman Martinez.
When Lomachenko fought “The Ax Man” Nicholas Walters in 2016, some thought he’d be nocked out. Walters is the only fighter to stop Nonito Donaire, but against Lomachenko, he had no answers. His axe was dulled in seven one-sided rounds. He hasn’t fought since.
A year later, Lomachenko toyed with fellow gold medalist, Guillermo Rigondeaux, of Cuba. Rigondeaux had dominated all 17 of his opponents. Lomachenko took over in the opening round. The win over Rigondeaux marked the fourth time in a row a fighter has quit against Lomachenko.
Lomachenko fought lightweight champion Jorge Linares in 2018. In round six, Lomachenko found himself on the canvas, courtesy of a lighting quick Lianres right. Up quickly, he rebounded to stop Linares with a bodyshot in round 10. After the fight, it was reported that Lomachenko had suffered a torn labrum.
Back in the ring after shoulder surgery, Lomachenko looked sluggish at times, but still knocked down bigger WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedrazo twice-en route to unifying the titles. He looked like his old self last April, dominating overmatched Anthony Crolla. The fight ended brutally in round four. Seven months ago, he dominated fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell over 12 rounds, though in round nine an uppercut buzzed him.
Nobody doubts the talent of Lopez. He captured the IBF title last December by explosively knocking out Richard Commey in less than four minutes.
Lopez used his jab in the opening stanza. He fired solid left hooks. A check hook in round two hurt Commey. Seconds later Lopez dipped and ripped a right hand. The blow landed flush on Commey’s chin. The soon to be ex lightweight champion crumbled to the mat. Commey got up on rubbery legs. Lopez fired punch after punch until the referee waved the fight off.
Lopez had struggled in his previous fight, ultimately winning a wide decision. There was talk of distractions before that bout. The result was a sluggish performance. Many criticized him. Some said he had been exposed. I don’t see it that way. He proved it against Commey.
Does Lomachenko see the Lopez fight ending in a knockout?
“Nobody knows,” Lomachenko,32, said. “It’s very unpredictable.”
“We’re pretty much going to knock this guy out,” said Lopez,22, who recently called Lomachenko “The little diva”
If victorious against Lopez, Lomachenko is looking forward to one particular moment.
“The interesting thing for me,” said Lomachenko. “Will be to look into his eyes and his father’s eyes and see their reaction after the fight.”
Sticks and stones. Let’s make this fight official.