This is no illusion: Teofimo Lopez has arrived.
In against an opponent wildly more accomplished than anyone he’d ever faced, and likewise wildly more accomplished than himself, Lopez scored a brilliant 2nd round knockout Saturday on ESPN.
You can always be forgiven when, after watching a power puncher have outages as he has stepped up in class, you assume that someone’s knockouts are a trick of matchmaking. Lopez didn’t stop Masayoshi Nakatani last time out, something he blamed on family drama.
That doesn’t sound like an excuse right about now.
After a difficult 1st, one where Lopez caught some big Richard Commey rights while aggressively pumping his jab, Lopez found a home on Commey’s chin for a flush right hand. It was that kind of punch that scores multiple knockdowns in one: Commey fell, got up, fell again and then righted the ship just enough to convince the ref he could continue.
It wasn’t enough of a steadying, alas, for Commey to do more than cover up along the ropes as Lopez reeled off dozens of shots. Commey couldn’t fire back. And the ref couldn’t let him continue once more.
It’s not an unfair suggestion that Top Rank might have seen something in Commey that Lopez could exploit. Commey was a dangerous veteran, not an attraction, and Lopez smells like money. It’s exactly the kind of guy the promoter would feed him if they wanted to make him look amazing: tough, hard-hitting, experienced and all it takes to make that match worthwhile is that you believe Lopez is gonna do it.
That doesn’t make it any less awesome that he did.
Next up is another Top Rank special: The aging king vs the would-be. Vasyl Lomachenko might be the best fighter in the world. He is not, however, a natural lightweight. As he has climbed and gotten older, Lomachenko has offered a hint of vulnerability.
Lomachenko makes everyone look dumb and bad, still, mostly. Lopez is the kind of fighter who only needs one punch to erase the scorecards. If Loma follows through on his stated desire Saturday night to face Lopez in 2020, look out. It could be a mighty spring for the sport.
(Teofimo Lopez, left, and Vasyl Lomachenko, right; via)