Vasiliy Lomachencko fights Anthony Crolla this Friday, but Max Warren is already thinking about a fight between Lomachenko and hotshot Teofimo Lopez.
Nobody thought it would be this soon, but Vasiliy“Hi-Tech” Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez are on a collision course to eventually square off in a super-fight at lightweight. It’s no secret; Lopez is in a hurry to fight Lomachenko and wants to face him this year.
At 21 years old, his body is still growing, and making the lightweight limit is becoming increasingly difficult. For a young promising fighter, there is no reason to struggle to make weight when the options aren’t limited. Yet, for Lopez, there is a very small window of time in which he can face Lomachenko. He wants to face Lomachenko while he can still comfortably make 135, and he declared an ultimatum that the super-fight would have to happen this year at lightweight. Otherwise, a catch-weight will be necessary if it happens later on.
On several pound-for-pound lists, Lomachenko is rated #1, and he can keep beating other fighters besides Lopez in order to maintain his position. If he faces and defeats Lopez this year, most experts will say that Lopez was simply too young and inexperienced. Lomachenko would still receive a lot of credit for the win since Lopez is a talent, but Lomachenko has lots of time to wait until it becomes evident that Lopez can hold his own against elite competition.
Lomachenko’s team plans on having him remain at lightweight for the foreseeable future, and he could remain at 135 for his entire career. When Lomachenko was dropped in his lightweight debut by former champion Jorge Linares, it was clear that he wasn’t going to keep moving up in weight.
On the other hand, a victory over Lomachenko would immediately make Lopez a crossover superstar and he’d be considered a pound-for-pound elite-level fighter. Lopez loves to talk, and his fights would receive a lot of media attention after a career-defining victory. It’s possible that Top Rank could benefit more from a Lopez victory rather than a win for Lomachenko. Teofimo partakes in numerous interviews and never fails to entertain. ESPN would love to cover such a charismatic personality capable of attracting many new fans to the sport.
The fight will only happen if the media heavily pushes it right after Lomachenko’s next bout against Anothony Crolla. Teofimo Lopez plans to attend the fight on April 12th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and it will be interesting to see if he comes into the ring after the bout to call out Lomachenko and pressure him for a title shot. The fight can only happen this year if Lopez heavily pursues the fight and continues to address it to the media.
Also, the fans will need to do their part by putting heat on Lomachenko to make it happen. When Guillermo Rigondeaux called out Lomachenko and incessantly stated that “Hi-Tech” was scared to face him, Lomachenko’s team made the fight happen. If Lopez can follow what Rigondeaux did, there’s a chance the match will take place this year.
Ultimately, the super-fight taking place this year is contingent on Lomachenko’s willingness, Lopez’s ability to push the fight, and the media’s interest and persistence. Even if the fight doesn’t happen immediately, Teofimo Lopez will still get a lot of promotion.
Despite his success as an amateur, he didn’t receive much fanfare when he turned pro. With only 12 fights under his belt, he is already being considered a viable opponent for one of the best fighters in the world. He can still make a name for himself at 140 if he doesn’t face Lomachenko, but a title unification fight against the Ukranian superstar could potentially put him on the fast track to superstardom. Lopez is colorful enough to make a name for himself without a marquee opponent, but the Lomachenko fight gives him a head start.
If Lomachenko vs. Lopez happens this year, December seems to be the most logical time for it to occur. Richard Commey, IBF Lightweight World Champion, was slated to face Lomachenko after his most recent victory, but he was sidelined due to a hand injury. Commey is now healthy, and he will face Lomachenko if he gets past Crolla on April 12th. Lomachenko vs. Commey would likely be slated in the fall, leaving “Hi-Tech” room for one more fight in 2019.
If the match-up is hyped up enough for the risk to be worth the reward, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez could face off in December in a unification bout that will make for a contentious promotion. Lopez and his father have done their share of smack-talking in the past, and it’ll be on full display if the fight comes to fruition.