Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Two weeks before his epic showdown against Vasiliy Lomachenko was scheduled to take place on October 17 in Las Vegas, boxing phenom Teofimo Lopez told Bleacher Report that he not only loved being compared to the likes of Floyd Maywweather Jr. and Mike Tyson, he wanted to “outdo” them.
Lopez, 23, from Brooklyn, continued down that path on Saturday night by outlasting Lomachenko over 12 rounds to become the first undisputed lightweight champ in men’s boxing in over 30 years.
Upon entering the boxing world just four years ago, Lopez had proclaimed himself boxing’s next big thing.
Now, the fighter nicknamed “Takeover” has become exactly that.
It wasn’t easy.
Rather, it didn’t turn out to be quite as easy as it appeared through the first six rounds of the fight against Lomachenko.
Lopez dominated the first half of the contest with hard punches from all sorts of angles. He stalked the ever-moving Lomachenko with great success to the point that things looked bleak for Loma mid-way through the fight.
Much was made of Lomachenko, 32, from Ukraine, always using the early rounds of his fights to process what his opponents do in the ring before amping up the pressure to overwhelm them.
But it appeared that process was taking longer than usual against Lopez thanks to the younger fighter’s faster hands and harder punches.
Still, somewhere around the eighth round of the contest, Loma started pushing forward with actual combinations.
That’s when Lopez was finally pressured by a three-weight world champ in his prime who didn’t want to suffer the grudge-match loss.
Maybe Lomachenko started to remember all the things Lopez’s father and trainer had said about him before the fight.
Or maybe it was the memory of their infamous elevator encounter that led to the two men being separated that spurred him on.
Perhaps it was just that Lomachenko heard the elder Lopez scream to his son after Round 7: “This is a blowout!”
Whatever it was, Lomachenko finally reverted away from his feints and follies to instead mount an attack that might actually net him the win.
But it was a little too late for Lomachenko to mount a comeback without scoring any knockdowns.
Indeed, Lomacheko’s best work came in Round 11 when a visibly tired Lopez was gassed from all the punches he’d thrown and landed at the soon-to-be-former champ. ESPN’s Andre Ward even had the bout all square heading into the final round.
But Lopez finished Round 12 strong. He hurt and bullied Loma to the point that all that was left to do was for the judges to pronounce to the world what everyone had just witnessed with their own eyes and what almost nobody had predicted beforehand.
Lopez outboxed Lomachenko to the tune of the three ringside judges scoring the bout 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111.
Per ESPN, the stunning win made Lopez just the 13th fighter to hold world titles from all four major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, WBC, IBF) at the same time since the four-belt era of boxing’s complicated world championship system that began around 1988.
Lopez also became the first men’s lightweight boxer to grab all four straps, and the first undisputed champ in the weight class since Pernell Whitaker grabbed three belts back in 1990 when that method was still considered an acceptable path to laying an undisputed claim.
Come to think of it, as great as Mayweather was during his incredible run in the sport, he never did that in any weight class.
And the other big thing that Lopez accomplished by beating the fighter ESPN ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world? He became the second-youngest boxer in history (23 years, 85 days) to hold at least three world titles in one division.
The youngest, per ESPN, had been former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (21 years, 37 days).
Lopez hadn’t minced his words about his plan to make mincemeat out of one of boxing’s best and why it was so important to his career moving forward.
“My goal is to outdo Floyd…to outdo Mike,” Lopez said. “It’s to be better than they once were…”.
After handling Lomachenko in the biggest fight in boxing this year, there’s nothing to suggest he’ll fall short.