At just 23-years old, undefeated IBF Lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez outclassed unified Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko to become the division’s first undisputed king
LAS VEGAS (October 18, 2020) — The winner takes all fight at Lightweight. All the details can be sorted out later, but unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko vs undefeated IBF champion Teofimo Lopez couldn’t be derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the U.S. effort to combat the deadly virus didn’t do enough to allow the highly anticipated to be attended by fans.
But even inside the confines of Top Rank’s Bubble at the MGM Grand the two immensely talented champions entered the ring to deliver the fight boxing so desperately needed. Salute to ESPN for stepping in to keep the undisputed bout off of Pay Per View.
The unified champion, coming back from a 14-month layoff, started the fight noticeably slower, and seemingly overly cautious of the timing of the younger fighter. The action happened in small spurts over the first half of the fight, but Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) landed the most effective shots.
Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) stayed outside much longer than expected. Lopez remained composed, hit what he saw available and grew with confidence repeating the same type of engagement round after round. The confidence, and more importantly the comfort level, was needed as the fight moved into the second half.
As expected Lomachenko worked his way into the fight with an increased sense of urgency. But Lopez matched his will and did enough hold onto his lead. Lopez fought the 12th and final round as he really needed it. His early offensive output squelched the attempt of a big comeback from the 32-year old. Drama broke out just ahead of the end of the fight when a clash of heads resulted in a severe cut along the left eye of Lopez.
After being evaluated by the ringside physician, the fight resumed for the final 10 seconds. Moments later Lopez became the division’s first undisputed champion with wide scores on all three cards.
Lopez pressed forward early, shooting his jab. Lomachenko moved backwards with upper body feints. Lopez followed suit with upper body feints of his own – with shots to the body. Lomachenko’s offense only appeared in glimpses. Lopez’ poise never faltered, he took what was given.
Lopez’ hands stayed busy to open the second stanza. Lomachenko backed away after an early Lopez right hand. The unified champion stepped forward suddenly to land a left hand straight inside. The had an exchange at the end of the round where Lopez landed the better shot.
Both men worked from outside for most of the third round. They flicked away with jabs with no real target. Lopez went to the both with some success.
Lomachenko scored first with a right jab in the fourth round. The action remained tense with neither man willing to engage freely. Lopez struck with a right hand to the head with under a minute to go.
Lopez attacked the body again in the fifth round. Through the midpoint of the frame Lomachenko continued to wait and look. The margin started to become a big part of the story to unfold.
Lomachenko’s urgency surfaced in the sixth round. His commitment to get inside still lagged. Lopez stepped around and landed with the right hand to the body again before the end of the round. He added a pair of right hands, one an uppercut, to close the round. He stared down Lomachenko as the two walked away after the bell.
Lopez was back onto the body work in the seven. Lomachenko still was setting up outside unable to find a way inside.
A clash of heads halted the action in the eighth round. Lomachenko started pressing forward looking to take chances. Lopez stepped forward to land a shot. Towards the midpoint of the round the leather started to fly. Lomachenko’s attack was short-lived, and Lopez turned back the effort with his own offense.
The leather was flying again in the late first half of round nine. Lomachenko moved inside with shots, but he attacked like he was aware that Lopez’ power was still dangerous. Lomachenko closed the round with a straight left to the body.
Lomachenko pressed forward in the early 10th. He jabbed and shot a couple of short left hooks. Lopez responded with powerful shots to give the Ukrainian something to think about. Lomachenko landed a left hand inside. Lopez landed a right hand to Lomachenko’s chin. Ahead of the bell Lopez stepped forward to land a right hand on the beltline that halted the action as a low blow.
Lomachenko forced his way through the front door early in the 11th. Lopez moved backwards to get his space. The two punched with one another but Lomachenko’s pressure was turned up sharply. Lopez responded with a body punch at the top of the final minute. Moments later Lomachenko landed a left hand to the body. Lopez rebounded over the final 30 seconds.
Lopez let his hands go as Lomachenkoo inched forward to the open the 12th. He shoved the unified champion as well. The action was back and forth. Lopez went to the body to slow down Lomachenko, and added an uppercut inside. Lopez opened up over the final 60 seconds before the fight was stopped after a clash of heads that caused a cut over Lopez’ left eye. The injury didn’t undo Lopez’ work throughout the first 2:50.
Moments later the 23-year old’s hand was raised as the undisputed champion, unanimously, with wide scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank