Words are cheap, actions speak louder
By John J. Raspanti
Yackity, yackity, yack. The kid likes to talk. The old pro watches from the sidelines, cheering him.
You talk too much, you talk too much
I can’t believe the things that you say, Everyday
Rocker George Thurgood
In a month, they’ll get it on. For over a year, the kid has been talking about it. To be fair, his father started the dialogue, but the kid picked up the line and ran with it.
“Personally, I don’t like the guy, “said Teofimo Lopez to Keven Iole of Yahoo Sports last week. “I don’t like the way he carries himself. He’s arrogant.”
“He” is Vasiliy Lomachenko, who engaged in 397 amateur fights, losing one. He also captured, not one, but two gold medals at the Olympics.
Lomachenko burst onto the professional ranks scene seven years ago by winning the international featherweight title in his debut. After a surprising setback in his second fight, he bounced back, handing Gary Russell Jr. his first loss in a competitive 12 rounder. He also picked up the first world, capturing his second belt with a highlight-reel knockout over Roman Martinez in 2016.
Five months later, he faced scary, undefeated, knockout artist Nicholas “The Ax Man” Walters, he of 21 knockouts in 26 fights. Some said “The Ax Man” would chop down Lomachenko. Some were wrong. Lomachenko dulled Walters’ ax with ease, stopping him in seven rounds. In 2018, Lomachenko dominated fellow gold medalist Guillermo Rigonndeaux. He took over immediately, reducing Rigondeaux to a fighter who had no answers. Tired of being humiliated, Rigondeaux waved the white flag.
The win over Rigondeaux marked the fourth time in a row a fighter had quit against Lomachenko.
Lopez thinks he knows why this quitting thing happened.
“The guys that he’s faced and made quit were just too scared of everything he was able to do to them,” he said to Manouk Akopyan of www.boxingscene.com.
Ok, makes sense. And also, likely tired of being beat up.
Lomachenko moved up to 135 pounds to challenge WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares 26 months ago. Linares can fight, and proved it by flooring Lomachenko in round six. Up quickly, he rebounded to drop Linares with a bodyshot in round 10. Linares couldn’t beat the count. A torn labrum sidelined Lomachenko for a spell. He returned seven months later after shoulder surgery, looking sluggish at times, but still had enough pizazz to knock down bigger WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedrazo twice.
A brutal knockout over gutsy but overmatched Anthony Crolla last year set up a showdown with another former gold medalist, Luke Campbell, who did pretty well in the opening stanza. Lomachenko took over soon after, outworking Campbell throughout - though the challenger hung tough. Lomachenko scored the only knockdown of the fight in round 11 with a combination to the head and body. He also appeared to be buzzed in round nine. Lopez noticed.
“I’m not even in my prime yet,” Lopez said. “I haven’t started that rise. Believe me when I tell you. I have a lot more to come on this journey. He’s one step along the way, but there’s a lot more to come after this.”
“We don’t respect him,” Lopez Jr. told www.fighthype.com. “Everybody he’s faced, everybody believes the hype train.”
Lopez, nicknamed “The Takeover,” is extremely talented. He captured the IBF title last December by explosively knocking out Richard Commey in less than four minutes. Lopez, 22, used his jab in the opening stanza. A check hook in round two caused Commey to wobble.
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. Somehow, he beat the count, but his legs were rubbery. Lopez fired punch after punch until the referee waved the destruction off.
The mouth that roared was the new champion. Lopez had struggled in his previous fight. There was talk of distractions before the bout. Made sense. Success can be difficult to control. The result was a sluggish performance. Criticism soon followed. Some said he had been exposed. I didn’t see it that way. He proved it against Commey.
“The Takeover” is here, and the reign of Lomachenko, the “Little Diva” is coming to an end,” Lopez told Jake Donavon of boxingscene.
The “Little Diva” is an inch shorter than Lopez. But hey!, Confidence is good. Lomachenko, ten years older than Lopez, is plenty confident himself.
“There is a ring. There is an opponent. There is a goal. I don’t really know how to describe my emotions, but all of the surrounding factors will have zero influence on me because I know what I want. I really need [Lopez’s IBF] title.”
In boxing, the ultimate mano-a-mano sport, believing in yourself is very important. But confidence can take you only so far. It can’t block punches. Lopez will be facing a fighter on October 17 who’s a number of times better than anyone he’s ever fought. Lomachencko will be fighting a bigger guy with power in both hands.
Something will have to give.
And, it will on Oct.17 in Sin City.