BoxingFight Previews

Against All Odds: Teofimo Lopez The Lifelong Underdog, Ready For Loma

Teofimo Lopez and his father, Teofimo Lopez Sr., more affectionately referred to as “Junior” Lopez, have been lifelong underdogs. The two have faced obstacles at each step of their journey and never once been derailed through their bond and friendship, and most importantly dreams as the father-and-son duo continues to make history.

Recent interview with Teofimo Lopez and Junior Lopez

Lopez, who started training with his father, became a boxing sensation in the amateurs, Junior a proud father let the world know. 

When amateur boxing superstar Karlos Balderas qualified for the Olympics via the World Series of Boxing, leaving Lopez without a spot to contender for despite winning the 2015 Olympic Trials, Lopez was undetoured and went to the Olympics representing Honduras.

It is a father-son duo, one that is unique in its own right as Teofimo is very calm, while father says with pride everything he does, while his son quietly looks to prove his father right time-after-time. Up until this point, they have yet to be wrong, hence why Junior Lopez is wearing a hat that reads “Nostradamus”, prior to this bout, stating boldly he has predicted everything that would happen.

When they moved to the professional ranks, they adopted the moniker “Against All Odds”, a slogan that stemmed back to their bitter feelings towards USA Boxing, and a feeling that they had to overcome so much to get where they were at. Essentially four years later, Lopez is now a world champion in just 15 professional fights, with 12 of those bouts ending via violent knockout, and his knockout of Richard Commey being one of the most specular of the past year.

As now, the duo has shocked the boxing world with sensational knockouts time-and-time again, going viral seemingly after every fight, they take on their biggest test on paper, Vasiliy Lomachenko, one who many boxing experts feel is one of the best boxers ever.

Lopez is one of the emerging stars of this generation, but that being said, the oddsmakers are still not showing the same respect to Lopez as the boxing world has. That’s according to the average consensus odds from SportsBettingDime, which list of which states currently have legal betting. The favorite Vasyl Lomachenko is as short as 4/1, while Teofimo Lopez’s odds range as big as a 3/1 underdog.

For one of the most talked-about fights in recent years and a potential changing of the guard at the lightweight division, not to mention that three of the four major sanctioning body belts, the IBF, WBA, and WBO, will be on the line, as Lopez holds the IBF lightweight title and Lomachenko holds the WBA and WBO lightweight title, with the only one not on the line being held by Devin Haney, the WBC lightweight world title, the odds seem to look as though Lomachenko is a healthy favorite.

So why is this?

It appears the feeling is coming from some that Vasiliy Lomachenko’s experience winning two gold medals and becoming a world champion in just three fights, making him one of the most celebrated fighters ever will be too much for Teofimo Lopez to overcome. What Lomachenko has done will probably never happen, again, or not for a great while, and it appears despite how powerful, strong, youthful and athletic, Lopez is, experience trumps all, to the oddsmakers, but is that fair to Lopez? Or furthermore, is this a dangerous place to put Lopez in, as it seems Lopez thrives at being the underdog.

That being said, isn’t this the fatal trope we often fall for in boxing, trying to use logic in an illogical sport. 

The aging legend faces a hungry to prove himself fighter, and the unthinkable happens? It is why many of us feel in love with the sport, and it seems to happen, time and time again.

I reference Mike Tyson versus Michael Spinks often when I think of this fight as to how it could play out, as a great light heavyweight, gold medalist, Spinks, who did well at light heavyweight, moved up to heavyweight and beat Larry Holmes twice, but was stopped by Tyson quickly in their changing of the guard bout, which showed size matters. Yet, in that same breath, you could correctly remind me of Fernando Vargas vs Oscar De La Hoya, which derailed Vargas’ ascension in the sport as De La Hoya fought of the surging young fighter looking to make name for himself.  

There is simply no A-to-B correlation for this bout, as both fighters are so unique and that is what makes it exciting, as it is a truly unpredictable outcome. Any hardcore boxing fan is excited for this bout, as despite pulling for a fighter, or think one will win, you have to realize, anything could happen.

A few things matter to me in this bout, but a major one being: can Lomachenko take Lopez’s punch?

Lopez will land a punch on Lomachenko and he will land a power punch, Lomachenko is slick, but he is getting hit more in recent fights, and Teofimo Lopez is too talented to not land on him. Lomachenko is essentially a featherweight, 126-pounder, fighting two weight classes above his optimum division based on his talent, whereas Teofimo Lopez will fight his last fight at lightweight, regardless of the outcome of the bout, after October 17th.

This means Lopez will be far bigger and stronger than Lomachenko come fight night as Lomachenko will have to use his whole fight IQ which is immense to win this bout as his physical gifts might fail him to the youthful, Lopez. That being said, size isn’t everything in boxing nor life.

So in short, the battle is a good big man vs a great small man. History has told us in the past if the skillsets are anything close to equal we will see the big man win, but Lomachenko is a freak of nature and tour-de-force, whereas Lopez looks like to be one of the most exciting American prospects in the last 20-years, not since Roy Jones Jr. or David Tua, has someone burst on the scene with as dramatic of knockouts, time-and-time again. So everyone wonders, can Lopez do it again, against an all-time great in Lomachenko. 

In the lead-up to this bout, Junior Lopez has hinted at Lomachenko prefers to move in just one direction, which shows one thing crystal clear. The Lopez team is not intimidated by Lomachenko and they do not view him as “King Kong” like some fighters have prior. Teofimo Lopez is going in with no respect for Lomachenko and that might something Lomachenko hasn’t faced since he lost his only professional bout to Orlando Salido.  

Also, this is a battle of two father-son camps, as referenced prior Teofimo Lopez is trained by his father, while Vasyl Lomachenko is trained by his father, Anatoly Lomachenko. This a battle of two father-son duos, who both think they have perfected the sweet science and think that their methodology to the sport is better, will add a personal dimension for both fighters. 

Not unlike the science fair in middle school, both camps will be testing their hypothesis on Saturday, October 17th, on ESPN, with the winner proving to be right. 

As we gear up to the bout, the real reason to watch is this what fighting used to be, a young fighter wanting to be great as Lopez will challenge the proven legend, Lomachenko. Lopez essentially came into boxing with a chip on his shoulder and a target on Lomachenko’s back, and Lomachenko hasn’t ascended to the stardom he probably should’ve, because he hasn’t faced a worthy foe that got the public excited like Lopez has. 

This is “the moment” for both fighters.

This fight will define both fighters for better or worse, and in short, we have rarely gotten these type of fights at the highest level of the sport in the past few years.

Lopez fights Lomachenko next Saturday, October 17th, on ESPN, check local listings for the time.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle