Tonight's the Night: Lomachenko vs. Lopez

By Robert Ecksel on October 17, 2020

Can the fight between Loma and Lopez turn an annus horribilis into an annus mirabilis?

After an awkward adjustment, where several boxers tested positive for COVID-19 and bouts were being cancelled with frequency, boxing has adapted to the new normal as well as, if not at times better than, other sports.

 

The superb matchmaking in the fight between Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Mikael Zewski   gave us a taste of what’s possible, even after several glorified sparring sessions and no live audience due to the pandemic. But it was the Fight of the Year two weeks ago between Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk that raised the bar to fantastic heights.

 

That’s some tough competition for tonight’s lightweight unification televised live on ESPN from the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas between WBA/WBO champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the exemplary southpaw from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine, and brash Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), his hard-hitting IBF counterpart from Brooklyn, New York.

 

Lomachenko at 32 is the old master. His radical training regimen informs how he fights. Love him or hate him, he is one of a kind. Twenty-three-year-old Lopez is the naturally bigger man who some are still inclined to doubt. But he’s the locked and loaded young gun with something to prove and the ammo to back it up.

 

There’s also enough bad blood between them to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool.

 

“A lot of people talking about Teofimo Lopez,” said Lomachenko, whose specialty is making elite fighters quit in frustration on their stools. “He has never faced a fighter like me. Who is this guy? He never fought any top fighters. Now he’s a world champion. Welcome to my club.”

 

Lopez doesn’t disparage Lomachenko’s gifts, but he has gifts of his own.

 

“I’m as quick, strong,” he said. “I can fight too. Everybody knows that. Loma’s on his way out. I’m on my way in.”

 

But can a single fight turn an annus horribilis into an annus mirabilis?

 

We’re about to find out.