On Friday we asked could the young gun back it up ? Whether he could dethrone an elite champion regarded by some as the pound-for-pound best, and whether the kid could do it in only his 16th professional outing. By the early hours of Sunday morning (UK time) we had our answer….an emphatic ‘Yes’.
Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez took centre ring from the opening bell and for the first six rounds registered a near shut out against Ukrainian great Vasiliy Lomachenko.
We waited for what we expected to be the inevitable; after an initial cerebral assessment of the style and skills of his opponent, a seasoned Lomachenko onslaught in the second half of the fight.
Having navigated the dangerous early rounds against a strong and aggressive pup we expected ‘Loma’ to work out his younger foe, turn on the gas and take Lopez into the “deep waters” he promised pre-fight.
We expected the Brooklynite to be gassing by now as his early pressure and firestorm started to fizzle out. But what we saw was more of the same for another two, then three rounds. Lomachenko ‘The Matrix’ was himself being unraveled by pure aggression, power and desire to win. It was the Ukrainian three-weight champion who appeared to be gassing.
Lopez was outgunning his senior opponent by approximately two powerpunches to one. Still controlling the pace of the fight and loading up on the Ukrainian. The eighth round was marked by an accidental clash of heads as Loma tried to force the pace, and effectively get into the fight. He looked to win rounds nine through eleven and with three minutes to go you thought, and in someway for Loma’s legacy still hoped, this is it, we’re in for a dramatic finish, another ‘Chavez-Taylor’ circa 1990.
But, Lopez knew, Loma knew…tonight was not the night for another drama show. A further crack of heads and warning from the referee and the finishing bell came. ‘The Takeover’ had happened.
The 23 year old Lopez had done it, he’d delivered. Minutes later scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111 unanimously confirmed the new undisputed world lightweight champion of the world.
Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KO’s) left the ring alone before post-fight interviews began, marching to his dressing room and later to be quoted as being very dissatisfied with the decision of the judges, believing he’d won the fight.
Lopez (16-0, 12 KO’s) basked in the joy of the moment as they wrapped the IBF and WBA belts around his waist and threw the WBC ‘Franchise’ and WBO belts over his shoulders. Also added, but not in view, was the prestigious Ring magazine championship, further cementing ‘The Takeover’.
In the post-fight interview the new champion was a model of composure “I had to dig deep man, I’m thankful, I’m grateful”. Asked how he managed it against his experienced foe “You’ve just got to keep pushing him….just keep putting the gas on him”.
“Take me to 140…I know I can fight”….
He went on to name check WBC-instated champion Devin Haney as an “email champion” and fellow young gun Shakur Stevenson as further emphasis that ‘the Takeover’ had begun across boxing.
Only time will tell.