Teofimo Lopez Upsets Vasiliy Lomachenko for Undisputed Title
By Caryn A. Tate on October 17, 2020
In the latter half Lomachenko won rounds by dogging Lopez. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)
On Saturday night in Las Vegas, unified WBC/WBA/WBO world lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) faced IBF world lightweight titleholder Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) in a rare and highly anticipated contest for all the marbles in a division.
Lopez walked out to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” Loma walked out wearing just a t-shirt (no robe), looking locked in.
In the early rounds, Lopez established his jab which set the tone. His smart jab, combined with the hook, prevented Loma from moving to his own right, his favorite direction to move laterally and pivot. Most fighters neglect the jab against southpaws, which typically loses them the fight against Loma. Linares and Pedraza, two boxers who did arguably the best against Loma without beating him, used educated jabs to good effect against Loma. It was incredibly smart of Lopez to prioritize that punch.
In fact, Lopez won most of the first half. I personally had two rounds for Loma in that first half; after that, Loma came on, seeming to sense that he was behind. As ESPN commentator Andre Ward said, “Loma is going to have to sell out to get inside on Lopez,” and he was absolutely right.
Loma knew it too, and he took some good, clean shots from Lopez on his way inside. But it paid off; in the later half Loma won rounds by dogging Lopez, applying pressure and throwing hard, short shots on the inside. Lopez was clearly uncomfortable when that happened, and Loma knew it.
Even in the later rounds when Loma had much success, it wasn’t in his usual manner. He wasn’t able to fully utilize his beautiful footwork and dance around Lopez as he normally does against his opponents; he had success by roughing Lopez up and turning up the dog.
An accidental headbutt in the middle rounds hurt both men, bruising Loma’s nose and marking up Lopez’s face a bit. But it didn’t stop Loma from continuing to apply the pressure.
Lopez still did very well in the last half, but on my card he only won two rounds during that stretch. In the 11th, Loma hurt Lopez badly with combinations upstairs and downstairs, but Lopez got through it.
The last round was a barnburner, with both fighters giving it their all. They both landed some great shots and took some bell-ringing punches as well, with Lopez returning the favor from the prior round and hurting Loma. But he fought through it and they made it to the final bell.
The official scorecards read 116-112, a bizarre 119-109, and 117-111, all for Lopez. Personally, I scored it a draw, so I wouldn’t have been upset with a close win for either man. Judge Julie Lederman turned in the 119-111 card and someone in the Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to call her into the office for a round-by-round review on Monday.
Lopez truly impressed tonight with this upset win. Lomachenko is undoubtedly one of the best fighters in the sport, perhaps of all time, and the younger fighter was able to raise his IQ and keep Loma from doing most of what he wanted to do. Before this, Lopez was known mostly for his power, but hopefully now people will understand the man’s boxing ability.
Earlier, 140-pounders Alex Saucedo (30-2, 19 KOs) and Arnold Barboza Jr. (25-0, 10 KOs) faced off in a 10-round contest. In the first, Barboza switched to southpaw but didn’t seem comfortable there and Saucedo took advantage, landing a great uppercut.
It was an active, back and forth match, with lots of punches thrown. Saucedo accounted himself well, but Barboza landed the cleaner, more effective shots overall.
The first fight on the card featured super middleweights Edgar Berlanga (15-0, 15 KOs) and Lanell Bellows (20-6-3, 13 KOs) in an 8-rounder.
Berlanga is known as a knockout artist, rightly so, but Bellows is a tricky fighter who typically poses problems for whoever he fights.
In the very first round, Berlanga landed some grazing shots and some clean, but they all hurt Bellows, whose legs wobbled and body language looked like he didn’t want to be there. Berlanga jumped on Bellows and landed more cleanly, prompting the ref to step in and wave it off.