Boxing

From the resort foyer to the ring — How the struggle between Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko got here to be

Teofimo Lopez Sr. was in a resort foyer in New York Metropolis in December 2018. The world did not comprehend it but, however when he bumped into Vasiliy Lomachenko — the two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-division world titlist and boxing’s pound-for-pound king — and prolonged his hand, Lopez’s plan for his son was already in movement.

Lomachenko stared at Lopez, and because the father defined to Mark Kriegel final 12 months, that look despatched a message.

I am higher than you. Your son shouldn’t be at my stage.

However Lopez Jr.’s success was telling a unique story. After beginning his skilled profession in 2016 by racking up some spectacular wins, he promised to “take over” boxing and laid out his path on making that occur — by defeating Lomachenko.

The Lopez household has been calling out Lomachenko for the previous two years, predicting victory. On Saturday night time, predictions and callouts will yield to one of many must-see fights of 2020 as Lopez faces Lomachenko in Las Vegas. This is a have a look at how Lopez earned his shot in opposition to Lomachenko, and the knockouts and banter that paved the best way.


Oct. 10, 2016: Prime Rank indicators Teofimo Lopez Jr. to a multiyear promotional contract.

“I feel this child is an actual expertise,” Prime Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum tells ESPN on the time. “The [matchmakers] are actually excessive on him. He is an actual robust child and has a extremely massive future as knowledgeable. He is a very good fighter.”

Lopez, 19 on the time, is already evaluating himself with a few of the greats.

“I am an entertainer — bought to entertain,” Lopez says. “My model — I am technical, very technical. I am very good after I’m within the ring, like Albert Einstein. I am like a Sugar Ray [Leonard], Floyd Mayweather. I am a boxer, but when the knockout comes, it comes.”


Feb. 1, 2018: Lopez Jr. introduces the slogan “The Takeover” on Instagram forward of his struggle on Feb. 3, 2018, in opposition to Juan Pablo Sanchez in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez went on to win an eight-round unanimous determination in his eighth professional struggle.


Could 12, 2018: Lopez continues The Takeover with a first-round KO of Vitor Freitas. Lopez celebrates the victory with the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite. The struggle is on the Lomachenko-Jorge Linares undercard on the Hulu Theater at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York and the discuss a attainable struggle between Lopez and Lomachenko begins.

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Teofimo Lopez Jr. lands a grazing proper hand that sends Vitor Freitas to the canvas, and he makes use of the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite.

“I like this. I stay for this,” Lopez says. “I instructed you guys that that is ‘The Takeover.’ I have been coaching arduous and I am all the time able to placed on a present for all of the followers. I’ve the ability to harm folks. I am not right here to play.”


July 14, 2018: Lopez scores one other spectacular TKO victory, this time in opposition to William Silva in Spherical 6.

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Teofimo Lopez throws a flurry of punches at William Silva within the sixth spherical, knocks him to the bottom to enhance to 10-Zero and celebrates in model.

“Man, what can I say? I instructed you I used to be going to take over,” Lopez says throughout the postfight interview.

Lopez fractures his hand during the fight and undergoes surgical procedure afterward.


Early December 2018: A few nights earlier than Lopez is scheduled to struggle Mason Menard at Madison Sq. Backyard, Lopez Sr. tells Mark Kriegel about working into Lomachenko within the hallway of the resort the place each fighters are staying.

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Teofimo Lopez describes his mentality within the ring and backing up his father’s phrases.

“The way you doing, Lomachenko?” Lopez Sr. says, providing his hand.

However then Lomachenko offers him that look.

Lopez Sr. begins screaming, cursing, making a scene.

“Yo, you ain’t gonna do nothing. We coming for you. F— you! Come Saturday we’re gonna steal the present!”

It upsets Teofimo when his father tells him. He can see Lomachenko, boxing royalty, disrespecting his father with out having to say a phrase. It pisses him off, Lopez Jr. explains to Kriegel. Then once more, his dad pisses him off, too.

“Why would you try this?” Teofimo says he thought. “Now I bought to scrub up your mess.”


Dec. 8, 2018: Combating on the Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza undercard on the Hulu Theater, the elder Lopez tells Kriegel he’s feeling the warmth from Prime Rank for insulting Lomachenko. Senior pulls his son apart earlier than the walkout. “We gotta do one thing nice,” he says. “You gotta look spectacular.”

Teofimo kisses his father on the cheek. “I bought you, Dad. I am all the time gonna have your again.”

Lopez scores an eye-opening first-round KO of Mason Menard in simply 44 seconds. After the victory, he guarantees to win a world title in 2019.

“2019, it’s ‘The Takeover,'” Lopez Jr. says. “‘The Takeover’ has begun. In 2019 you will note me with a strap that claims world’s champion. We’re within the stage of my profession the place we will change boxing and convey it again. You all have not seen something like me in a very long time.”

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Teofimo Lopez knocks out Mason Menard with a brutal proper hand then dons a Kyler Murray jersey and does the Heisman pose.

Says Lopez Sr.: “It was like God spoke to me once more.”

Father and son watch the primary occasion from a lounge within the Backyard. Lomachenko — nonetheless recovering from shoulder surgical procedure — goes the gap to beat Pedraza.

Teofimo turns to his father. “Dad,” he stated, “You bought in his head.”

Later within the month, ESPN names Teofimo its 2018 prospect of the year.


Feb. 2, 2019: Lopez Jr. continues his takeover with a formidable seventh-round knockout of Diego Magdaleno on the The Ford Middle at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

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Teofimo Lopez takes it to Diego Magdaleno with a knockdown within the sixth spherical, and a crushing knockout within the seventh spherical to complete the struggle.

“Teofimo Lopez, whether or not you hate him otherwise you like him, you are still going to look at him,” Lopez Jr. says. “What I am doing proper now could be entertaining. [In] 2019, we’re prepared proper now [to fight for a world title]. Now we have to work within the health club. There’s all the time room for perfection.”


Feb 19, 2019: Lopez tells Max Kellerman that he needs to face the world titleholders.

“If [the fight with Lomachenko] occurs, it occurs,” the boxer says. “What we’re in search of is a world title. Who has a world title proper now, Lomachenko has a world title, Richard Commey, he has a world title, Mikey Garcia has a world title, however he is at 147 proper now. … We’re right here to struggle the world champions, we’re right here to win the world title, it does not matter who it’s.”

Lopez additionally tells Kellerman that Lomachenko is predictable.

“I really feel like [Lomachenko] does the identical factor time and again relating to footwork, shifting to the identical facet. There’s three or 4 methods to beat Lomachenko. … However I can not say.”


April 12, 2019: Lomachenko beats Anthony Crolla, and on the postfight information convention Lomachenko is requested who could be essentially the most troublesome to struggle and in what order, between Garcia, Lopez Jr., and Luke Campbell.

Lomachenko says: “I feel the [hardest] will probably be Campbell, second place is Mikey and … second Mikey,” ignoring Lopez fully.

After the struggle, Lopez’s father instructed FightHype.com: “[Lomachenko’s performance was] horrible, horrible, to me. After we throw jabs, we throw jabs to kill you. Anyone that throws jabs like [Lomachenko throws], I do not actually prefer it. All people is in search of an ideal efficiency, and what you bought to deliver into an ideal efficiency, you higher deliver a thrill, you recognize, and everyone was simply quiet all through the entire efficiency. He knocked the dude out, however you bought to go in there, not respect Lomachenko. You bought to go in there and attempt to take the struggle off him. … My son goes in there, you recognize, to whup your ass, he does it from the start. We aren’t gonna let Lomachenko simply do something like that.”

Requested about how they’ll get a struggle with Lomachenko, Lopez Sr. says they’ll get a win by KO in a title struggle after which go for Lomachenko to finish The Takeover.

“We’re preventing in a co-main occasion on pay-per-view, which I do not bear in mind Lomachenko being in any pay-per-view card,” Lopez Sr. says. “My son solely has 12 fights, and in his 13th struggle we’re within the co-main occasion of an enormous card, which is the [Terence] Crawford-[Amir] Khan struggle in New York Metropolis, which is the very best state of affairs, I imply, knock the man out, in New York, like he is all the time carried out. He is been in New York 5 occasions already, 5 knockouts. It is gonna be the sixth knockout in New York, and we’re simply gonna make it devastating and entertaining, like what everyone needs, you recognize.

“Lomachenko stated he does not wish to struggle my son except he has a belt, so we’re going to deliver the belt, after which you recognize what you’re gonna see? You’re gonna see him drop to 130 as a result of he is afraid of my son, and I do know that already. … My son goes to take this man [Lomachenko] out in lower than three rounds.”


April 19, 2019: Lopez Jr. exhibits confidence forward of his struggle in opposition to Edis Tatli, telling ESPN’s Mark Kriegel he is the very best fighter on the earth.

“You guys have not seen nothing but.”

When requested who’s the very best fighter on the earth between himself, Crawford and Lomachenko, Lopez offers an emphatic, “Me, as a result of I’m. I am simply that nice — folks coming to see me.”

When Kriegel asks Lopez what’s going to occur within the struggle with Tatli, Lopez predicts what truly takes place.

“What you guys are gonna see is not only pace, energy, however ring IQ,” he says. “That is the entire thing, I am a technician after I’m in there. It is all about leisure, man, watch the celebration, the Fortnite dances, all the things coming collectively, and ending with a again flip and calling it an evening.”


April 20, 2019: Lopez demolishes Tatli in a fifth-round KO on the Crawford-Khan undercard, and two days after the struggle he posts on Instagram: “We got here, We noticed, We conquered! #TheTakeover”

“I desire a world title shot subsequent. That is what I would like. We promised to take over the present, and as soon as once more, I took it over,” Lopez says after the struggle. “I am prepared for [world titlist] Richard Commey or the [potentially vacant] WBC title. So long as it is for a title, I’m able to go. Nobody can take my energy.”


June 29, 2019: Understanding he must win a world title to solidify the thought of preventing Lomachenko, Lopez posts a photograph of himself with then-potential opponent Commey with the caption, studying partly: “See you soon.”


July 16, 2019: Lopez and his father are visitors on the three Knockdown Rule podcast, hosted by Mario Lopez and Steve Kim. Lopez Sr. calls Lomachenko “horrible” as soon as once more.

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Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez have been every raised very otherwise by their fathers.

“All people glorifies this man, and that is one factor that [Teofimo] does not perceive. The man [Lomachenko] is horrible,” Lopez Sr. says. “We will take this man out in lower than three rounds, I will say it proper now.”

Lopez Jr. is not too complimentary of Lomachenko both.

“He had an enormous beginner background, he has an enormous beginner pedigree and all that stuff,” he says. “He paved the best way. Do not get me fallacious. You possibly can’t take that away. Nevertheless it’s the truth that, did anyone actually know him as a lot as they do now? No. It is as a result of we talked about him and all the things like that, and we’re sizzling now.”

Added Lopez Sr.: “He hasn’t carried out nothing.”

Lopez Jr. is days away from going through Masayoshi Nakatani, however he and his father maintain going at Lomachenko, making an attempt to get the struggle carried out.

“Individuals wish to see this struggle, and so they name it a megafight,” Lopez Jr. says throughout the podcast, as if he is speaking on to Lomachenko.

“My dude, you have been a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a number of weight division champion and all that, but you continue to cannot get a pay-per-view struggle?”


July 17, 2019: Two days earlier than the Nakatani struggle, Lopez Jr. shares with ESPN his three-fight plan, which features a victory over Nakatani, a struggle in opposition to Commey for the IBF light-weight title after which Lomachenko in a unification struggle.

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Teofimo Lopez is considered one of boxing’s greatest rising stars, nevertheless it does not come with out an unlimited quantity of assist from his coach, his father, Teofimo Lopez Sr.

It finally ends up being a really correct plan.

“What I see in my son is the very best fighter that ever lived. That is the best way I see my son,” Lopez Sr tells ESPN. “I’ll by no means lie about my son. If my son sucks, he sucks and he would not be on this sport.”

Lopez Jr. understands what his father is making an attempt to do and does not see it as strain.

“There’s occasions … I am like, dang, he put me on this place,” Lopez Jr. says. “All proper, I gotta again him up. … I am not gonna make no person make enjoyable of my father.”


July 19, 2019: Lopez wins a unanimous determination over Nakatani, however he does not look good in victory in opposition to the tall and lanky fighter. Is he prepared for the highest fighters at 135 kilos? Is he prepared for a title shot?

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Masayoshi Nakatani hits Teofimo Lopez with a proper hand punch, and Lopez solutions with a punch of his personal. For extra Prime Rank Boxing, join right here for ESPN+ https://plus.espn.com/.

“I simply want little tuneups. It is a part of the method. I am grateful proper now,” Lopez says after the struggle. “It was my first predominant occasion. It was 12 rounds. Am I pleased with it? No, however I am proud that I confirmed everybody I may go 12 rounds.”

Lopez had earned a title shot in opposition to Commey, the IBF titleholder. The Takeover was a step nearer.


Dec. 14, 2019: An unimaginable second-round TKO victory over Commey to win his first world title erases each doubt about Lopez’s expertise.

One proper hand places Commey down. Lomachenko is subsequent.

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Teofimo Lopez Jr. places on a Joe Burrow jersey after defeating Richard Commey at MSG in December, much like when Lopez sported a Kyler Murray jersey in his win the earlier December.

“I am perplexed proper now. It is a dream come true,” Lopez says after the struggle. “[Commey] is a foul man. His shot may’ve carried out the identical to me if he hit me with that shot.

“You all know who I wish to struggle subsequent — 2020 goes to be an enormous 12 months. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you have not seen something but.”

Lomachenko, who’s ringside, tells ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna after Lopez’s victory: “Now he is a world champion. Welcome to my membership. I see you in April.”


Could 19, 2020: After prolonged discussions, it’s clear that Lomachenko and Lopez have their eyes squarely on one another. There’s no person else within the image and each fighters state they are willing to fight even without fans.

“In speaking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them need an interim struggle,” Arum stated. “So we’d plan to do this in September, with or with out an viewers.”

Lopez Sr. reiterates the need to go for Lomachenko sooner moderately than later.

“A hundred percent,” he says. “We do not want no tuneups. We’re targeted with Lomachenko. That is all we would like is Lomachenko.”


July 22, 2020: Lopez Jr. information movies which are posted on Instagram and Twitter the place he calls out Lomachenko and tells him to “deliver my belts.”

Aug. 12, 2020: The Lomachenko-Lopez light-weight unification struggle is officially announced for Oct. 17 on ESPN.


Aug. 13, 2020: Lopez Sr. predicts a 3rd KO victory for his son, saying that the struggle goes to make Teofimo “a superhero.”

It’s not going to even last three rounds,” Lopez Sr. tells ESPN after the struggle is introduced. “When that monster hits him with the primary punch, you are going to see a damage canine with out no legs. He is carried out. The primary punch goes to vary the entire struggle. He’ll want he was by no means in that ring.

“Two years in the past, you bear in mind after I began this, you recognize why? As a result of that is what God put in my head. That is what God put in my head and I do know we needed to beat him. And let me let you know one thing … there by no means had been no person on the earth predict a world championship [for Teofimo] in [just] 15 fights, after which struggle Lomachenko in our 16th struggle.

“This child is from one other planet, this child shouldn’t be regular,” he stated of his son.

Whereas Lopez Jr.’s purse for the struggle is much less as a result of followers aren’t in a position to attend, Lopez Sr. satisfied his son to take the struggle, saying that not making it may have had a long-lasting unfavorable impression on his profession.

“I instructed him, ‘I will offer you my share, bro’, I do not care about cash,” Lopez Sr. recollects. “That is what we did this s— for — for the glory. You possibly can ask for something you need after this.”

And a victory will go a great distance for Lopez’s legacy as properly.

“That is the struggle that is going to make my son a superhero,” Lopez Sr. says. “He’ll be like Superman.”


Sept. 8, 2020: Lopez Jr. says on ESPN’s First Take that he plans to complete Lomachenko.

“Every part that this man does that they are saying, [making opponents quit], he is lowering. … He is already on his means out, and it is displaying,” Lopez says. “Your physique can solely take a lot, a lot injury, and I assure you, we’re going to put some injury on this man.”


Sept. 29, 2020: Lopez Sr. tells ESPN that by way of their speak they have been in a position to rattle Lomachenko and that his son will knock him out on Oct. 17.

“Lomachenko does not know what’s coming. He’s very nervous. I do know that we’re going to win that struggle earlier than my son enters the ring, as a result of that’s my job — I’ve to get inside Lomachenko’s head,” Lopez Sr. says. “He has by no means spoken properly of any boxer and now he says that my son has a excessive IQ in boxing, and earlier than he didn’t say that. I do know I am in his head.

“And my son shouldn’t be the identical boxer who beat Commey — he’s a boxer who believes extra in himself. Destroying Commey, an individual that nobody has ever knocked out earlier than, a powerful boxer, good jaw, and the best way we destroyed him gave my son extra confidence, though my son all the time has the arrogance. Lomachenko would by no means have carried out that to Commey, ever. That struggle would have been received by Lomachenko, in fact, however he would have received on factors — he would by no means have knocked him out the best way my son did.

“My son removed Commey rapidly and that is what we’re gonna do with Lomachenko, as properly.

“I already predicted the struggle’s not going six rounds, and that is simply the best way it may go,” the elder Lopez says. “We have been proper all these occasions and we’ll be proper on this struggle, too. There is not any means a 126-pounder goes to beat my son. It is simply unimaginable.

“[My son] goes to look means higher than all the opposite fights he has fought. This man Lomachenko, he’ll make us look good, and I can not wait. I instructed everyone the higher the fighter is, the simpler the struggle it may be for us.”


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Have a look again at Teofimo Lopez’s greatest wins as he fearlessly climbed the ranks and received the IBF light-weight championship.

Oct. 12, 2020: Lopez Jr. says it doesn’t matter what his father says, he is aware of it’s due to the arrogance he has in him to ship within the ring.

“I like my father,” Lopez Jr. tells ESPN, “nevertheless it is not about proving his prophecy. He talks no matter he needs to speak. He made this greater than it wanted to be — I feel everybody must congratulate him on that half. However actually what it’s, it is simply that he is aware of what I am all about. He talks what he talks, he is very assured about it as a result of he sees in me, what nobody else sees in me, but.”



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