When Teofimo Lopez stepped into the ring to face Vasyl Lomachenko in a fight for the championship title, the stakes seemed simple enough.
When Lopez defeats one of the best fighters in the sport, he immediately positions himself as one of the best in the 135-pound division and one of the biggest attractions in boxing. When Lopez won unanimously, it caused a ripple effect that could change the future of boxing.
Instead of defending his unbeaten record, a marketing chip coveted by many fighters in recent years, 23-year-old Lopez has opted for a serious challenge from Lomachenko. He has shown that taking risks was the right thing to do, and now other young lightweights such as Ryan Garcia (22), Devin Haney (22) and Gervonta Davis (26) seem to have a similar mentality.
Lopez (16-0, 12 KO) and his colleagues could be at the forefront of a trend that would be great for the sport – fighters ready to tackle opponents at the highest level early in their careers, regardless of their background or political views.
These young [fighters] all want big battles early in their careers, said Match Fighting promoter Eddie Hearn in December. No stripping. And it’s very good for boxing. Mr. Hearn’s comments appeared in an interview with DAZN during the broadcast of the Super Middleweight Championship fight between Canelo Alvarez and Callum Smith on the 19th. December. Lopez stood in the ring shouting at Hearn to set up his wallet for a future fight with Haney (25-0, 15 KOs).
Teofimo wants to smoke, says a smiling Hearn.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Teofimo Lopez took a big risk at the beginning of his career in the fight against Vasyl Lomachenko, but it paid off when 23-year-old Lomachenko became the Unified Lightweight Champion. Mikey Williams/Top Rated via Getty Images
This has been clear since Lopez started his climb. Lopez and his father, Teofimo Sr., marked their salvation campaign by going after the top position in the division. He was quickly outplayed by Top Rank Promotions, who put Lopez on ESPN’s primetime card in Madison Square Garden in his 15th fight for the pro title. He became champion that December night with an exciting knockout victory over Richard Commie.
But when he agreed to fight Lomachenko, he more often chose the path of those who fought decades ago, than the modern trend of letting big battles simmer in the streets for potentially high wages or waiting for a more appropriate moment to weaken an opponent’s skills.
Sometimes it’s risky.
The value of a possible fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Jurorquis Gamboa – the initiator of the now infamous term marinade invented by Bob Arum – fell after the first one was arrested by Orlando Salido in 2011. Then there was the split between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a fight that first took place in 2009 and only ended in 2015. Whatever the reason, the battle lasted several years and still yielded hundreds of millions of dollars, but it happened long before either one of them was at its peak.
A contemporary parallel is the inability to get welterweight champions Terence Bud Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. into the ring. The two men are undefeated and fight unanimously, with a maximum of kilos per kilo, but there seems to be no easy way to make this fight happen, because of the activity of boxing. It remains to be seen whether the changes we have observed in the light distribution can help to change the equation in welterweight and elsewhere.
For the time being, the lightweights and their collective mentality will dominate the conversation. Prior to the fight against Lomachenko, Lopez mentioned guys who have suffered defeats but remain among the most lucrative attractions of the sport, such as Alvarez and heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. He also cited some of the sporting legends of recent decades, including Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, who fought against other top fighters to become the best.
And he says he’s not alone in that mentality.
I have a list because I grew up in the amateur world, Lopez said after the victory over Lomachenko. The fact is it’s a new generation. We estimate what was the vieille école – se battre contre les meilleurs – and we insist on this point.
I’m not here to choose who I want to fight because I want to defend my title and keep it up to date. Non.
Garcia did the same thing after a one-shot victim to be eliminated directly on the former challenger of the title, Luke Campbell. Garcia, who is also a superstar of social media, passed with this victim the second day. Janvier : the biggest test of his youth career – a test that showed that he can follow Lopez and Davis, who marked an impressive success in the direct elimination of Leo Santa Cruz in October.
However, even if these talented and talented graduates launch themselves in the biggest combats, there are still a few obstacles, given a competition to see who will be the first. Even in the euphoria of the post-combat with Haynie, the tenante of the title of the WBC for which Garcia is now an obligatory challenger, Garcia has declared that it wants Tank Davis as a prochain adversaire.
Terror ! The name of the file is not specified. Ryan Garcia a connu beaucoup de douleur dans son combat contre Luke Campbell le 2. Janvier took both the risks and the compensation of serious challenges, surviving the first knockout of his career before resisting a TKO victim. Tim Warner/Getty Images
I really want to be a man of parole, Garcia declared in an interview after battle on DAZN. Je veux vraiment me battre contre Tank. I know they’re worried, but I’m sorry.
Sean Porter, former champion and currently challenging poids welters, this is what it thinks Lopez is doing in a place where the best fighters are less aware of records of invincibility, a tendency that is good for the box. And those who manage the financial aspect of sport are also in the coup.
In 2018, when the poids lourds Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury set their record of invincibility in a fight for the title, the boxers took this risk and collected the financial benefits. Both of them are in favour of a rebound at the beginning of 2020, despite the support of rival societies. After the Victory of Fury, the conversation is immediately turned to the potential of another superfight chez les poids lourds – a real fight of unification with all the ties against the tenant of the uniform Joshua.
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And while we should expect to see how the year 2021 will turn out, the tendency of fighters to take more risks in order to obtain more compensation seems to have been accentuated.
Promoters will now be donating to these prospects of great names and permitting them to do all that is required to arrive, Mr Porter declared to ESPN in November.
Davis et Garcia could be the last to break down the political barrier to sport and start the fight that people want to see. During the issue of Spence-Danny Garcia, Porter called Crawford for a future fight against poids welters.
Over the years, box fans have been aspiring to see young passionate fighters compete in the colour of the sky, and the hope is that such a trend can propagate well beyond a single division. Dans le meilleur des cas, 2021 pourrait inclure des combats comme Crawford-Spence ou Canelo-Charlo. This, of course, is that with the arrival of Lopez and other poids poids promoters at the end of 2020, it could be one of the best places in the box since decades.
Si vous devez m’attaquer, soyez prêt, a dit Lopez à DAZN en décembre. And that’s all I have to say to all those who arrive in 2021. I’m gonna go in there and rip your head off.