Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez is one of the highlights on a big weekend for boxing. Furyjoshua.com looks ahead to their Vegas showdown.
Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez will do battle on Saturday night in boxing’s biggest fight yet since the sport came out of COVID-19 lockdown.
The world lightweight title unification match at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas will take place in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time (not before 0400 BST).
It pits one of the sport’s greatest P4P fighters against a brash and rising star eager to take his belts.
At stake will be Loma’s WBA, WBC franchise, WBO and Ring Magazine titles as well as the IBF strap held by Lopez. And if the fight lives up to the hype, we are all in for a treat.
The 32-year-old southpaw Lomachenko (14-1), known as ‘The Matrix’, is a stunning technician capable of angles and combinations other fighters can only dream of.
Lopez (15-0) meanwhile is nine years his junior, and is coming off an impressive second-round stoppage of Richard Commey late last year to take his first world title.
Loma is already a world champion in three weight classes and enjoyed a stunning amateur career which brought him two Olympic gold medals and just one defeat in 397 fights (twice later avenged).
The Ukrainian master, who will start favourite, has stayed relatively silent in recent weeks while Lopez has gone into trash-talk overdrive.
But he did say that the showdown with Teofimo is exactly the sort of fight he wants to figure in.
“When I came into professional boxing I always wanted to fight only top fighters and world champions. And now I have a top fighter in front of me and I want only to improve who I am and to improve my legacy.”
As for the trash talk, Loma has been unimpressed to say the last.
He said: “Back home (in the Ukraine) if you insult somebody, you can hit and get in a fist fight on the street and nothing is gonna happen. Back home people don’t run their mouth because they know they will have to answer somehow.”
Lopez, an American-Honduran from Brooklyn, is brimming with confidence and itching for the chance to remove Lomachenko’s aura of invincibility.
“I don’t like how he (Lomachenko) approaches things. Come October 17 I can’t wait to put hands on this man,” he said.
“I truly believe I’m one of those fighters that ‘what can I not do’. You guys have only seen me for three, three and a half years. You guys haven’t seen anything yet.
“I learn something new each and every day. People only see me as a power puncher - and I have power in both hands. My ring IQ is different and I think that is what’s gonna play the big role come October 17th.”
Two narratives coming into the fight are that firstly Lopez will be more vulnerable the longer the fight goes. The second is the comparison with Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Canelo Alvarez back in 2013, when the experienced master schooled the rising star.
Lopez says he’ll shatter them both as myths when he finally gets into the ring with ‘The Matrix’.
“People always want to take me to deep waters,” he said.
“What they don’t understand is, I live in deep waters - I’m a shark. It ends up becoming their downfall.
“If this fight goes the 12 rounds. I understand that Lomachenko may be a slow starter and he picks up as the rounds continue, but so do I.
“I think that this is definitely going to be a chess match, a great fight. And I don’t look at it as Mayweather/Canelo, and if it is, I’m Mayweather.”
TV boost for UK fans
Lomachenko vs Lopez will air on ESPN in the United States and on FITE TV in the UK (price £9.99) and is expected to start between 0400 and 0500 BST on Sunday (October 18).
Around 250 fans - including some first responders who have helped in the fight against COVID-19 - will be allowed into the arena to watch the bout in person.