Vasyl Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time, quickly staked his claim as one the P4P best fighters in the paid ranks. He claimed belts at featherweight and superfeatherweight and is now on his way to unifying the lightweight division. Standing in his way is one of boxing’s brightest prospects, 23-year-old Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) who took the IBF title with a destruction of Richard Commey in his last fight.
Lomachenko turned pro after earning a second Olympic gold medal at the London Games. He fought for a title in just his second fight, a loss to Orlando Salido, and won a belt in his third against Gary Russell Jr. That tied Saensak Muangsurin’s record for the shortest run to a championship in history. Lomachenko then dominated all the way up to lightweight and picked up some impressive scalps along the way, notably Nicholas Walters, Guillermo Rigondeaux, and Jorge Linares.
Lopez was also an Olympian, representing Honduras at the Rio Olympics where he lost to eventual silver-medalist Sofiane Oumiha. He turned pro following the games and quickly emerged as one of the best prospects of the 2016 Olympic class - and arguably the best prospect in boxing period.
Lomachenko is a defensive genius, masterfully combining footwork, head movement and an excellent guard to become virtually untouchable in the ring. His defense is used to set up precise body-head combinations or pivot to his right and take an outside angle on orthodox opponents. Lomachenko’s ability to make his defense flow seamlessly into offense associated with his manipulation of defense make him a nightmare to fight, as evidenced by four of his opponents retiring on the stool.
Lopez is a devastating puncher with very quick hands. He uses a shoulder roll defense to set up counters, mainly an excellent right uppercut, and is also very fond of the right hand pull counter. Both the right straight and uppercut are usually followed by a devastating left hook. Once his opponent has gotten countered a few times and tasted his power, he’s shown a tendency to try to force the KO a little bit but that was against opposition that didn’t present much danger and I’ll chalk it up to a desire to please the crowd and I suspect Teofimo is smart enough to not try to force the issue against elite competition.
It is hard to envision a scenario for Lopez to win a decision without seriously hurting Lomachenko at some point, but I don’t believe there’s anyone at lightweight with a better shot to manage that. He has already announced a future move up to 140 pounds and will be bigger than the Ukrainian, hits harder, and might be a little bit quicker. He can’t rely solely on counters for that though, and the key for him will be the body. Lomachenko’s layered defense makes him extremely hard to hit cleanly to the head but his body is a comparatively easier target that Lopez should be able to find with his right straight. The early rounds will probably be very frustrating for Lopez but he should use them to sap Loma’s energy as much as possible and maximize his chances to catch him with something big later in the fight and make his power edge a factor.
With all that said while there is a path to victory for Lopez and it is the best anyone has at lightweight or under, Lomachenko is a -400 favorite for a reason. Hopefully Lopez can push Lomachenko and there’s every reason to think he can, but at the end of the day I expect the Ukrainian great to outbox him and get his hand raised once again on Saturday.
Whether Lomachenko continues his domination and adds another belt to his collection or Lopez scores a star making upset, this is an excellent match up pitting the best fighter boxing has to offer against its brightest up and coming star and one no one even remotely interested in the sweet science should miss.
Main card (10 PM ET/7 PM PT) - ESPN/ESPN+
- Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez; Lightweights
- Arnold Barboza Jr. vs. Alex Saucedo; Junior Welterweight
- Edgar Berlanga vs. Lanell Bellows; Super Middleweights
Preliminary card (7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT) - ESPN/ESPN+
- Josue Vargas vs. Kendo Castaneda; Junior Welterweight
- Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas vs. John Vincent Moralde; Featherweight
- Quinton Randall vs. Jan Carlos Rivera; Welterweight
- Jahi Tucker vs. Charles Garner; Welterweight