firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris McKenna)
Teofimo Lopez pulled off a huge upset to stun Vasiliy Lomachenko and punch himself into boxing superstardom.
The Brooklyn-born boxer was too big, too strong and, most surprisingly, too shrewd at times for the more experienced Ukrainian maestro. Lopez and his father and trainer Teofimo Sr had been plotting this win for two years.
They promised Lomachenko’s reign as pound-for-pound king would come to an end.
Many dismissed them but their confidence was unwavering and the 23-year-old American ace delivered.
The cards of 117-111, 116-112, 119-109 in favour of Lopez were maybe slightly generous.
But there was no doubt the right man had his hand raised as Lopez became the undisputed lightweight champion behind-closed-doors at the MGM Grand ‘Bubble’ in Las Vegas.
It was an intriguing bout if not a thriller in what was the biggest fight in the sport since boxing returned from the coronavirus lockdown.
Lomachenko, who came into this bout having just lost twice in his whole life, was left to ponder why he took six rounds to get going in the bout.
Once the 32-year-old southpaw did find his rhythm he had plenty of success, winning most of the second half of the fight.
But Lopez had built up such a lead in the opening half of the clash that it was going to take a stoppage or knockdowns from Lomachenko to turn it on its head.
And the former featherweight and super-featherweight champion didn’t have the size and power to really wobble the ultra-confident Lopez.
The size advantage we expected was clear from the opening bell and when Lopez landed a big right hand early on it seemed to worry Lomachenko.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist has started slow in the past, taking his time to work his opponents out.
But here, in his first fight in 14 months when he outpointed Luke Campbell in London, he took far too long to get going.
Lopez controlled the centre of the ring in the first six rounds while Lomachenko barely let his hands go.
Only the second round could realistically have gone to the pre-fight favourite in the opening half of the contest.
Lopez’s body shots and right-hand counter were landing enough to take rounds convincingly.
But, when Lomachenko did find his groove in the back end of the bout, then it was all the more surprising he hadn’t pushed forward earlier.
His jab was pin-point accurate and it negated a lot of Lopez’s aggression while the southpaw left was also finding a home.
But as the rounds ticked away, it all felt too little too late for the man who had looked unbeatable since he lost his second professional fight to Orlando Salido.
Heading into the last, Lomachenko needed at least a knockdown to stand any chance of nicking it.
That was without knowing how wide the cards were, though.
In truth, the final three minutes counted for little but Lopez dug deep to start to find success again and he rocked Lomachenko a couple of times with his right hand as the Ukrainian charged in desperate to find something.
But this was to be Lopez’s night. The brash American had risked looking foolish with his pre-fight predictions.
He may not have knocked out Lomachenko within six rounds as he had stated he would.
But he still delivered an impressive performance that stunned Lomachenko and the boxing world.
Now, as he reigns as the lightweight king, he has the platform to be a huge star in America after proving he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.