Teofimo Lopez grinds out tough win over Masayoshi Nakatani
Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) likely expected to waltz into the ring and starch Masayoshi Nakatani in a couple or rounds. He’d do his trademark backflip and go home.
Friday night at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD, Lopez had to work harder than he ever has in his young career, winning a 12 round unanimous decision over a determined Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs) at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD.
The win positions Lopez in line for a title fight with IBF lightweight world champion Richard Commey.
The scores were 118-110 (twice), and 119-109
Maxboxing had Lopez winning by 117-111 tally.
In the opening seconds of the first round, Lopez, with significant disadvantages in height and reach, connected with a solid left hook. Nakatani landed a couple of jabs and a right hand. Lopez cuffed Nakatani with a left and inside right. Nakatani landed a right at the bell.
In rounds two and three, Lopez fired combinations. Nakatani found a home for his right and left. He was getting off first. Lopez bobbed and weaved. He landed a short hook to the gut-followed by a sweeping left. Nakatani went to the body. Lopez landed an overhand right.
Lopez upped the ante in round four. He pressured Nakatani, winging powerful shots. A few landed solidly, but Nakatani wasn’t going anywhere. The unheralded fighter from Japan stayed in the pocket and fired back. He had come to win. Nakatani concentrated most of his work to the body.
It was Lopez’s turn to go to the body in round five. Nakatani feinted and popped his own left. Lopez was trying to counter Nakatani with something big. Nakatani dug to the body. Lopez went downstairs and to the head. A big right landed. Nakatani sagged but stayed upright. He fired back but ate another shot at the bell.
Lopez couldn’t miss with his left hook in rounds six and seven. Lopez moved to his left and fired. Two punches landed. Nakatani just missed with a sharp right. Lopez was bouncing and letting his hands go. Nakatani was stalking and working the body. Lopez connected with a short right hand.
Nakatani came out aggressively in round eight, but ran into a solid body shot. He did connect with a right. Lopez cracked Nakatani with a right that sent him into the ropes. Nakatani fought back, but Lopez landed a leaping left hook.
In round nine, Lopez came out to end the fight. He cracked Nakatani with a combination. He landed a solid right. Nakatani continued to show a solid chin. He fired a right that landed. Lopez took the punch well. Lopez outworked Nakatani in rounds 10, 11, and 12, connecting with power shots and slashing hooks. Nakatani caught Lopez with a long right. He followed up with more punches. Lopez shook his head and wobbled Nakatani with a nasty hook.
Nakatani pressed forward. Lopez jolted him with a right. A left hook from the first row also rattled Nakatani. Lopez cracked Nakatani with quick left to the noggin. Nakatani missed with his return fire—while Lopez did not. He wasn’t taking any chances in the last round. He worked, while Nakatani absorbed.
“It is what it is,” said Lopez who felt he fought a horrible fight. “I felt good. We’re making the fight against Commey. I’m thankful. I’m proud I went 12 rounds. This is what it’s all about.”
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank