Fight Picks: Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez

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This Saturday one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world Vasiliy Lomachenko will put his Ring Magazine, WBA and WBO lightweight titles on the line against IBF counterpart Teofimo Lopez in an intriguing unification matchup inside The Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The eagerly anticipated showdown, will be broadcast on ESPN, beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT.

Lomachenko was one of the most decorated amateurs ever, claiming two Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016. An early setback to Orlando Salido (SD 12), in his second professional outing, was followed by a rapid ascent. The Ukrainian star claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title at the expense of Gary Russell Jr. (MD 12), and he has won further titles at 130 and 135, defeating Roman Martinez (KO 5), Nicholas Walters (RTD 7), Guillermo Rigondeaux (RTD 6) and Jorge Linares (TKO 10), among others.

Lopez, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 135 pounds, represented Honduras at the 2016 Olympics. Since turning professional, the big punching 23-year-old has gone about his business in devastating fashion, scoring highlight reel knockouts over Mason Menard (KO 1), Diego Magdaleno (KO 7) and Edis Tatli (KO 5). After a learning experience triumph over Masayoshi Nakatani (UD 12), Lopez was back to his brilliant best, demolishing IBF titleholder Richard Commey (TKO 2) in December 2019.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 knockouts) is 32 years old now. Will we see some erosion in his otherworldly gifts? Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is a ballsy type who has long sought out this challenge, however, is he biting off more than he can chew? He is naturally the bigger man, and it won’t be long until he steps up to 140 pounds. Will size play a factor or will Lopez be shocked by his opponent’s incredible talent? What happens if the younger man does find a way through Lomachenko’s defense? Can he take out the Ukrainian master?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Lomachenko as a 2-7 (-350) favorite, while Lopez is priced at 5-2 (+250); the draw is 18-1 (+1800).

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM

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Lomachenko goes after Jorge Linares. Photo courtesy of Top Rank

TOM GRAY: LOMACHENKO MD
“I think Lomachenko’s incredible skills are a touch less important in this fight than his championship experience. Lopez is a brilliant fighter, and the sky’s the limit no matter which way this fight goes. Unfortunately, I just don’t think he’s had enough big fights to pull off the upset. Loma is in a different dimension from Commey and the challenger will feel that difference within the opening seconds. But as much as I’m painting doom and gloom for Lopez, I still believe that he will have big moments this fight. I can see him breaking through to hurt Lomachenko and we may even see the pound-for-pound star on the floor. I just don’t think Lopez will be able to keep him there. The MD pick is there because I foresee a dumb scorecard – call it a hunch.”

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: LOMACHENKO UD
“Youth versus experience, sublime skills versus raw power, but that’s not to say Lopez isn’t a terrific boxer, too. Lopez was adamant that he wanted Lomachenko – now he gets to face him and see what all the fuss is about. The old adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for’ springs to mind, he’s poked the bear and that’s dangerous. I think we’ll see Lomachenko box out of his skin. Lopez is too good not to have his moments, but he’ll be a step behind and drop a decision, something like eight rounds to four, which translates to 116-112. Lopez will learn from the 12 rounds with Lomachenko and be a better fighter going forward.”

LEE GROVES: LOMACHENKO UD
“When Lopez first brought up this fight most observers rightly thought it to be premature but now “V-Lo versus T-Lo” is arguably the year’s most anticipated fight thanks to Lopez’s scintillating title-winning performance against Richard Commey. Lopez is bigger, stronger, much younger, hits harder and possesses enormous self-belief. I think Lopez’s best chance will come in the first three rounds because Lopez’s power will be at its zenith and because Lomachenko will (1) be trying to shake off nearly 14 months of ring rust and (2) will still be assessing exactly what is in front of him. If Lomachenko gets past that point without sustaining significant damage, I believe his fusion of intelligence, experience, otherworldly technique, work rate, footwork and left-handedness will frustrate, and ultimately outpoint, Lopez.”

RON BORGES: LOMACHENKO UD
“Lomachenko has forgotten more about boxing than young Lopez knows, which will be Lopez’s undoing. This fight will unfold much like the Alvarez-Mayweather fight did. Lopez will come in with great fire and the confidence of youth but after a few rounds of punching at steam disappearing in front of his eyes he will begin to be hit in ways and from angles he never knew existed. While Lomachenko is beginning to show the signs of age and best be careful early in the fight and late, when Lopez will become desperately frustrated, his technical skills and superior footwork will allow him to prevail convincingly. The one caveat is what can always happen in boxing. I was in the arena the night Kostya Tszyu turned old midway through a fight with Ricky Hatton and ended up quitting on his stool. That can happen to any aging fighter with a lot of wear and tear on him, and Lomachenko is one. But he doesn’t seem as far gone as Tszyu was that night in Manchester, England. Lomachenko 117-111 but the judges will make it a little closer because, well, it’s what they do these days.”

MARTY MULCAHEY: LOMACHENKO UD
“There is a progression boxers must take before tackling an elite opponent, and I do not believe Teofimo has gone through those steps. I admire his ambition, but it is too soon for Teofimo to face Lomachenko. He has not even been tested against a top 10 southpaw yet. Teofimo’s speed and hyperactivity wins the first two rounds, but from that point forward Lomachenko begins to time him and find holes in an increasingly frustrated Lopez. Lomachenko’s angles and quickness will negate Lopez’s size and reach advantage, drawing Lopez towards him and those expertly placed jabs and hooks. It won’t be one-way traffic, but as the rounds ratchet up Teofimo looks for one-punch bombs that Loma evades and builds points against with counters. I see a unanimous decision victory for Lomachenko in the 116-112 range.”

MICHAEL MONTERO: LOMACHENKO UD
“Experience matters. Lomachenko and Lopez both have 15 professional fights, but against a very different level of opposition. Even before turning pro, Loma had over 400+ fights in the amateurs and the World Series of Boxing. He’s seen every fighter style several times over, while Lopez is making a huge leap in opposition against the Ukrainian. I expect the veteran to use his superior footwork and angles to keep Lopez off balance. Loma will win a unanimous decision, probably in the 116-112 range.”

GARETH A. DAVIES: LOMACHENKO UD
“This will be Vasiliy Lomachenko’s toughest fight. He will play matador to Teofimo Lopez’s bullish style, and we will be regally entertained. Loma can lose this fight against a naturally bigger, very aggressive fighter who gives no respite. However, Teo will be hit more, and more accurately, even harder, than he has been hit before. It is a great fight. Lomachenko on points 116-112 after a very tough first third of the contest.”

NORM FRAUENHEIM: LOMACHENKO UD
“It’s a fight loaded with angles. Lomachenko has more of them. Lomachenko’s brilliant mastery of the ring’s geometry figures to be the difference, especially in the later rounds against the younger Teofimo Lopez. The danger for Lomachenko rests in the opening rounds. That’s when Lopez, 23, could hurt the 32-year-old Lomachenko, whose smarts and proven pain tolerance are sure signs he’ll survive the early assault. The Ukrainian has endured injuries to his shoulder and his hands. He has faced, and conquered, the adversity. There will be some – maybe plenty, but not enough to beat him in a compelling fight that ends with Lomachenko winning by two to three points on the cards.”

BOXING INSIDERS

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Lopez cracks Mason Menard. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

ROBERT GARCIA (FORMER WORLD TITLEHOLDER/TRAINER): LOMACHENKO PTS
“I think that’s the fight everybody is waiting for. 2020 hasn’t been too good because of the pandemic, but I think Teofimo versus Loma is a fight that everybody is excited about. I think it’s a very even fight, I think the fight could go either way. I think Teofimo has the heart, the speed, the power to land a good punch and hurt Loma, but Loma has the skills to [win a] decision. If I had to pick, I would pick Loma by decision, but it’s a tough one, it’s going to be a very good fight.”

MICHAEL AMOO-BEDIAKO (MANAGER): LOMACHENKO PTS
“Loma has the skills to unsettle Lopez, and if he gets into a rhythm he will be hard to peg back. He could frustrate Lopez like Nakatani, but with the size difference it only takes one punch from Lopez to change all that. I’m going for Loma on points.”

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): LOPEZ TKO
“While many can’t see Loma losing, I give Lopez every chance of the upset. They’re both very good, but Loma has peaked, while Lopez is yet to peak but is already at this level. Lopez wins via late stoppage.”

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): LOMACHENKO UD
“It’s very hard to go against a talented fighter like Lomachenko, but I feel that Lopez can be a real danger for him. Lopez is the real deal and complete package. He is big, fast, good and powerful. We saw in the Linares fight, when he sent Lomachenko to canvas, the way to neutralize Lomachenko’s speed is not by counter punching him because its already too late. You need coordination, timing and [you need] to take the risk to throw at the same time as him. Lopez is fast and physically strong enough to do that. Despite all that, I still think Lomachenko will win a unanimous decision but keep your eyes open – no errors are allowed.”

JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): LOMACHENKO UD
“I just think Loma has fought much better opposition than Lopez. I think this fight for Lopez is a little too soon. I believe Loma is going to box Lopez’s ears off. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lopez, his style inside and outside the ring, but I think this fight is too soon for him.”

KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): LOMACHENKO TKO
“I pick Loma to defeat Lopez. I’ll even go out on a limb and predict a late stoppage. I believe that Loma is the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing today and he will prove it again against Lopez, who is a spectacular young prospect. My belief is that Lopez will find himself in a ‘too much, too soon’ situation. Loma’s exceptional talent, ring intelligence and experience will prevail.”

STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): LOPEZ PTS
“The sensible pick is Loma on points, but let’s not forget this is 2020, so … I’ll go with Lopez by close decision. More natural at the weight, very hungry, and pretty damn good, too.”

RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): LOMACHENKO PTS
“I keep going back and forth on this one. But I feel Loma is too experienced. I believe he schools Lopez. Lopez has never fought anyone as mobile and skillful as Loma. Everyone has stood in front of Lopez. Loma wins by decision.”

CAMERON DUNKIN (PROMOTER, NOW BOXING PROMOTIONS): LOMACHENKO PTS
“I think it’s going to be really rough early for Lomachenko. Lopez is going to put pressure on Lomachenko, and that means Lomachenko could hit him and hurt him. Once we get through that and it settles down, I think Lomachenko will find a way to not get hit by a big shot and box his way to victory, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a good fight.”

SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): LOMACHENKO TKO 8
“I like Loma by TKO. I love Lopez’s tough talk and confidence. I really do. I wish the kid well, but Loma will use that aggression to run Lopez into big punches. Loma TKO 8.”

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): LOMACHENKO PTS
“I think it’s an interesting fight. The young lion versus the older lion. Lomachenko is unique, no one else like him. Lots of experience but most importantly, confidence. He has fought them all with his amateur experience. Lopez dares to be great. Just like the ones who have taken the chance in their younger years but most thought they weren’t ready. I like Lomachenko by decision. I think Lopez will come out a better fighter with the experience earned. He’ll be a star; his confidence to be great will take him to stardom.”

Final Tally: Lomachenko 18-2

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at elraincoat@live.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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