The last time we saw Teofimo Lopez, he was a mask of crimson after getting chopped up by George Kambosos in losing his lightweight titles back in November. By the end of this night, he looked a bit like 'Carrie' at the end of her senior prom.
2021 began with an ill-fated gambit with Triller, and concluded with him being on the wrong side of the most notable upset of last year on DAZN.
Now, he finds himself back on a Top Rank card that will be televised by ESPN (10 pm, ET/7 pm, PT) this Saturday night from the Resorts World Las Vegas, as he faces the hand-picked Pedro Campa.
It was a lost year, brought about by greed and hubris.
Still at just 25 years old, there is still plenty of time to make up for lost time and fulfill the promise he displayed when he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko back in October of 2020. Unfortunately, what should've been a launching pad to stardom was squandered.
But the 25 year old Lopez firmly believes that he is still very much in line to take over the sport of boxing.
"The Takeover is back! I took over the lightweight division, and I plan on doing the same at junior welterweight. Pedro Campa is a tough opponent with an aggressive Mexican style, and I can't wait to put on a show for the fans," said Lopez, who still seems to be in a state of denial about his loss to Kambosos. In his mind, he still won that fight. Truth is, he might be the only one who feels that way. On that night at the Hulu Theater, he was consistently beat to the punch, and out-hustled by Kambosos.
That loss could very well be just a blip on the radar. There's no denying his physical talent or his skills, it's really all the other stuff that concerns the brass at Top Rank. Lopez insists,"“Every person goes through challenges, but I’ve put the past behind me and am thrilled to be back fighting on ESPN and in Las Vegas. I am calling this fight the 'Take Back' because I am coming to regain what I’ve lost. One defeat does not define a fighter, and it won’t define me.”
This upcoming bout is his initial foray in the junior welterweight class. Campa is expected to be cannon fodder, a guy like Arnold Barboza would've been a much sterner test. But you get the sense that Top Rank and his own management didn't want to roll the dice at this juncture. He has outgrown 135, but he figures to be a player at 140.
"I had been fighting at lightweight since I was a teenager, and it was time to move up. I am going to be an even better, more explosive fighter. You will see that on August 13,'' Lopez promised.
It wouldn't surprise anyone to see Lopez flourish as a junior welterweight. Talent has never been the issue. At times, the 'T' in Teofimo has stood for 'turmoil'. His toughest opponent is sometimes himself and those who surround him. It remains to be seen if he can overcome that.
"I am only 25 years old. My best years are in front of me," Lopez insists. "Pedro Campa is the start of a new chapter in my career. I will be a two-weight world champion very soon. Every contender and champion at junior welterweight better watch out because I am coming to clean out the division."
The co-feature on this broadcast is one of Top Rank's blue-chip prospect, Xander Zayas, who was slated to fight on June 11th at MSG as part of the Puerto Rican Day Weekend show. Unfortunately, Zayas -- who is a stablemate of Kambosos -- fell ill in Australia, and was pulled from that card.
Zayas, who given a prime slot on a weekend that was once headlined by his idol, Miguel Cotto, was crestfallen.
"When it happened, I was really upset at myself, not understanding the situation, not understanding that sometimes there's things that we can't control," Zayas told SNAC.com, earlier this week. "I was upset for like a week or so. Then I realized that my team made the right decision, and it was better for me to take some time off and relax the body."
Mikey Williams for Top Rank
It was a buzzkill given that Zayas had an opportunity to start building his Puerto Rican fan base in New York City, but also Edgar Berlanga trudged to another desultory effort that night where the Boricua's were flat out bored by the end of the night.
"The only thing going through my mind was, 'You could've been there, it could've been a night you could've made all your fans happy,''' said Zayas, who last fought in March, out-pointing Quincy LaVallais over eight rounds. "But at the same time I was happy for everybody that fought, and everybody that get the victory that night."
At age 19, when you miss a date and have to wait a few months to be rescheduled, these delays can seem longer than they really are. And the show in New York back in June were specifically tailored for guys like him. Zayas, who is mature beyond his years understands this.
"It's been about five months, it's a long time," he said. "But in a way, I feel like I've been training, I've been working, so I haven't lost anything that I've already gained."
It was formally announced by Matchroom Sports that Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn will clash on October 8 at the O2 Arena in London. Their father's were heated rivals in the 90's and now the sons clash.
This certainly makes for an interesting story line and this will garner an abundance of attention in the UK. But you wonder if this contest (which has a catch-weight of 157 pounds) will play out inside the ring given that Eubank is a middleweight, while Benn is currently a welterweight.
As they say, size matters.
The WBA has ruled that Gilberto Ramirez is their mandatory challenger to their light heavyweight champion, Dmitry Bivol, and that this fight must happen next. The two sides have till August 10 to strike a deal or a purse bid will be called....According to ESPN's Mike Coppinger, the return of former WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, is slated for Oct. 15 at the Barclay Center....Ruben 'Ace' Torres headlines the next Thompson Boxing card on Aug. 20 in Corona, CA.....Middleweight prospect, Troy Isley, is part of the Top Rank undercard that will stream on ESPN+ this weekend....Dan Campbell of the Detroit Lions makes for great TV on 'Hard Knocks'...I can be reached at email@example.com....