One of boxing’s biggest fights of the year is just days away and Fight Game Media has you covered with our Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez preview.
The fight pits the two best lightweights in the world with the winner walking away with several world title fights and the label of number one. It’s a contrast of two different fighting styles and identities. Lomachenko is quiet, quick, nimble and experienced while Lopez is loud, brash, strong and young, providing a phenomenal backdrop to what promises to be one of the best fights on paper of 2020.
It’s been an interesting journey to get to this point, with the pandemic forcing the fight to move to Las Vegas in front of no paying fans inside Top Rank’s “Bubble” and airing on ESPN television instead of pay-per-view.
How we got here: These two were originally planned to fight in front of what could have been a packed house at Madison Square Garden this spring but the fight got scrapped due to the pandemic. But even before that, these two were on a collision course to a big showdown given their promotional ties to Top Rank Boxing.
Lomachenko immediately captured a lightweight title against Jorge Linares in 2018 fresh off a run as the WBO super featherweight champion. Now a three-division champion, Lomachenko unified titles with Jose Pedraza and defended the unified WBA and WBO titles against Anthony Crolla and later captured the vacant WBC title with a win over Luke Campbell. Although Lomachenko’s status as a WBC champion is very murky due to him being named a “WBC Franchise Champion,” there’s no question that he’s consensus No. 1 lightweight in the world and to some, the best pound-for-pound boxer today.
Lopez has enjoyed one of the fastest ascents to a world title in the span of just one year in recent memory. Entering December 2018, Lopez scored a sensational knockout win over Mason Menard and then followed it up with two more impressive knockout victories over Edis Tatli and Diego Magdaleno. After going 12 rounds for the first time in his career in a win over Masayoshi Nakatani in the summer of 2019, Lopez dominated Richard Commey this past summer to become the new IBF champion, cementing his place as one of the sport’s fastest rising stars.
The Fight Game Media panel gave their thoughts on the lightweight superfight with predictions from GG, Duan, Robert Silva and Carlos Toro.
GG: While I’d love to see Lopez win just to shake things up, I think it may be a little too much too soon. I think Lopez does well enough here to come out a bigger star in the end, but I think Loma will dig deep when it matters and pull it out late.
Prediction: Lomachencko by decision
Duan: I see this going strongly one way or the other. Either Lopez proves too powerful and overwhelms him or else he comes apart badly as the fight wears on. I lean towards the latter. Lomachenko has beaten the best in the world as an amateur and a pro, and that’s something Lopez hasn’t yet proven he’s capable of doing. If Teofimo can’t land something fight changing in the first two rounds, the pressure will crack him.
Prediction: Lomachenko by 9th round TKO
Robert Silva: In the last 35 years, there have only been two other fights at 135 pounds that I’ve anticipated as much as the upcoming Lomachenko-Lopez fight: the June 13, 1986 battle of the Boricuas between WBC champion Héctor Camacho and Edwin Rosario, and in my opinion, the greatest fight in the history of the division, the May 7, 2005 WBC/WBO unification fight between Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales. Saturday night’s fight has the potential to be on the same level action wise as these two fights. Lomachenko is a generational talent. Loma is a master in the ring with incredible foot movement and ring IQ. At 32 years old, he may have lost a quarter of a step. His one glaring weakness is occasionally getting hit with a right cross. Lopez has one of the best right crosses in the game today and with his incredible hand speed, there will come a time when he lands and hurts Loma with said right hand. I see Loma out boxing Lopez through the majority of the fight and with several attempts at going to Lopez’s body to try and slow down his youthful bravado. The result being a 12 round fight that will have many action packed movements, but in the end, it will be Loma’s boxing acumen that will be the difference in him winning a close 12 round decision.
Prediction: Lomachenko by decision
My decision to pick Lomachenko is not a decision I came to very lightly, nor do I feel 100 percent confident in my pick. That’s how close this fight is on paper. Both of these guys present different styles with supremely impressive attributes that you can reasonably pick one or the other and I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow.
Let’s start with Lopez. Unlike some of Lomachenko’s past opponents, Lopez is a young upstart on the rise (as opposed to Jorge Linares), is already beyond established at lightweight (unlike Guillermo Rigondeaux) and carries incredible knockout power (unlike Jose Pedraza). That combination of attributes alone is enough to give Lopez more than just a puncher’s chance of winning this. Regardless of the result, I give Lopez tremendous credit for stepping up to fight one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters. Lopez may be Lomachenko’s strongest opponent as far as knockout power is concerned and it should be noted that Lomachenko’s chin isn’t the sturdiest in the world. The multi-time world champion has been dropped to the canvas in the past and Lopez is more than likely going to test that chin in the early going.
Lomachenko on the other hand, is still a phenomenal fighter even if lightweight isn’t necessarily his best weight. His power isn’t something that’s discussed a whole lot, but Lomachenko does carry some power which is further enhanced by his hand speed and ability to create unique angles and openings to attack his opponents and not give them much time to react. Part of the reason his KO percentage is almost at 70 percent is because Lomachenko’s footwork, hand speed, volume punching and power not only beats fighters physically, but mentally to the point where they give up. From a skills standpoint, Lomachenko outclasses Lopez and has a lot more experience fighting in championship fights, which does go a long way once we reach the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds.
Here’s how I can see this fight going: Lopez tries to test Lomachenko’s chin early while Lomachenko’s footwork allows him to mostly get away from danger. As we get into the middle rounds, Lomachenko will look to use those angles to pressure Lopez, but I can see Lopez likely getting the upper hand a handful of times and even knocking him down with that devastating right hand. Ultimately, Lomachenko’s experience will shine through in the championship rounds and come out on top with a fairly close decision win.
Prediction: Lomachenko by decision
Here is the full lineup for the Lomachenko v. Lopez card:
Main Card (10 p.m. ET/ ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+):
* Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez
* Alex Saucedo vs. Arnold Barboza Jr.
* Edgar Berlanga vs. Lanell Bellows
Undercard (7:30 p.m. ET/ ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+):
* Kendo Castaneda vs. Josue Vargas
* Jose Enrique Vivas vs. John Vincent Moralde
* Jan Carlos Rivera vs. Quinton Randall
* Jahi Tucker vs. Charles Garner