We introduce yet another bluechip fighter – Teofimo Lopez. A 22-year old whose combination of flamboyance and killer instinct has helped him stand out from the crowd and also helped open the gateway to the toughest opportunity of his career – a fight against Vasiliy Lomachenko. Whilst the fight looks set to be postponed in light of the current situation, the youngster remains eager to test himself against the Ukrainian maestro in 2020.

The past 12 months have seen many of the sports hottest talents put through the acid test under the bright lights, and for Lopez, a man who had displayed some of the most spectacular finishes, bold celebrations, and audacious claims, came the toughest test of the lot. Last summer, Ghananian lightweight Richard Commey showed exactly why he deserved world champion status. In his first defense, he dropped Beltran four times on route to a stoppage victory. A night that alongside his high-risk low-reward circumstances and incredible punching power, emphasized his case for being the division’s most dangerous man.

Eying up the divisions elite, Commey was forced to withdraw from facing Loma last year due to injury, which 6 months later opened up a dangerous yet perfect opportunity for the division’s most exciting young star. Two huge lightweights both possessing speed, skills, and most importantly, power. The fight caught fire early, with Lopez having some success in the first, though just halfway into the second landing a picture-perfect right hand, the American never left him off the hook. And so, from showmen to showstopper we are now left with a young, dangerous and confident champion ready to dominate the division.

With an ingrained toughness, an unbreakable resolve, and an extensive history, the streets of Brooklyn have a tie with boxing that has lasted over 130 years and in the summer of ’97, a month after that notorious rematch [Tyson vs Holyfield 2], another of the city’s future stars was born. His father was a well-known street hustler, something that one way or another lead to them moving to Florida five years later. Though, teaching his son to box and noticing his easy acquisition of the fundamentals, Teofimo Jr was winning tournaments by nine, showing ability way beyond his age. Something that continued with his father committing more and more time throughout their amateur days and after winning The Silver Gloves, The Golden Gloves and Olympic Trials, Lopez pursued a place in the 2016 Summer Olympics but fell short to the eventual silver medallist.

With a 120-15 record and an aggressive front footage style far suited to the professional game, there was a sign of huge things to come. In October at 19, Lopez signed a multi-year professional deal with Top Rank that would see him hit the ground running. By this point, he was already familiar with elite-level fighters and far larger opponents, including the likes of Thurman, Porter, and Soloman. In which case, his early days in the pro game were always there for him to have a bit of fun, and with a vicious style and nonchalant attitude, that’s exactly what he did.

In his first year as a pro he took out seven opponents, all but one by knockout. Nowadays, things fall into place far easier for those fighters who are able to be an all-singing, all-dancing self-promotion machine. Teofimo stands as clear cut proof as on top of making it look easy, he had the voice, the confidence, and the moves to let everybody know what he was about – something that didn’t take long to get people talking.

In 2018 came four more victories, racking up an 11-0 record, with a noticeable improvement in opposition. The last of which in December being by far the most impressive, not only did the 21 year old complete a clinical 44-second demolition of veteran contender Mason Minar but with his finish and exaggerated celebration going viral, he upstaged the main event featuring a certain Ukrainian lightweight – Lomachenko.

With Lopez’s profile growing exponentially, so too did the pressure and need to perform. But by putting away Magdaleno in seven with a huge left hook and Tatli in five with a crunching right hand to the liver, we saw the variance and the mean streak that gained a significant place in the conscience of today’s boxing fans. Especially considering the danger factor as many lightweights rely on accumulation, Lopez’s single punch stopping power proved all too real.

Where we had become used to seeing him blow away his opposition, his most recent fight last summer was a different story. The American wasn’t quite as explosive as he’d hoped, but his opponent certainly brought more to the table than expected – either way comfortably outpointing Nakatani, he secured himself the all-important world title shot and in doing so he held his word by also putting the two-time gold medalist on notice.

Teofimo brings an athletic, powerful style with fast-twitch muscle and a brilliant engine, though whether it’s enough to put pressure on the Ukrainian where so many have failed will be the real question. Luckily for us, where Lopez comes across as the can-man of the lightweight division, Loma is equally a ‘bring it all’ kind of fighter – which means if the fight can be made, it will be a collision of two of the sport’s most inspirational and dedicated father-son duo’s in a night that guarantees, emotion, drama and excitement and an opportunity for Teofimo Lopez Jr to dare to be great.

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