Following his victory over Josh Taylor to become a two-weight world champion, what’s next for the enigmatic and controversial Teofimo Lopez?
The Brooklyn native silenced doubters and proved the bookmakers wrong with a unanimous decision victory over the long-reigning champ, who failed to find an answer for the movement and quick counters of Lopez.
It was a much-needed return to form for the 25-year-old, made all the more impressive by the questions raised by fans and analysts before the fight as to his mental state.
Having been unified at 135lbs not so long ago, and now holding the WBO world title at super lightweight – and likely within a grace period from any mandatory challengers – it appears Lopez has options…
The undisputed lightweight champion has teased a move up to 140lbs for some time now, and, following his victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko, this may be the time to act.
He and Lopez have history in terms of words exchanged, and the both men are currently connected in some way to Top Rank, making it, in theory, an easy one to make. As the WBO champion in the lighter weight, the sanctioning body will likely approve him for a shot straightaway.
If Haney wants to announce himself properly at super lightweight, this is the fight.
Another option for a unification is the New Orleans native, Regis Prograis – a previous opponent of Taylor’s. Since that loss, ‘Rougarou’ has found himself with good promotional backing and holding the WBC world title following a win over Jose Zepeda.
He’s made no secret about wanting the big fights, and, given their respective styles, an all-American clash with Lopez would be thrilling from the first.
Another newcomer to the division, ‘Rolly’ Romero won the WBA 140lbs world title in his first fight at the weight, albeit in controversial fashion.
He’ll no doubt be seen as the easiest option for a unification at the weight, and could be a chance for Lopez to add to the legacy he’s so keen to broadcast, but is currently expected to face the UK’s Ohara Davies as per an order by the sanctioning body.
Having won the vacant IBF world title in a contest with Jeremias Ponce earlier this year, Puerto Rico’s Matias is the final option should Lopez look to unify. He’s been linked with Prograis for a bout later in the year having had talks with promoter, Eddie Hearn.
Garcia has confirmed he’s moving upto 140lbs following his first professional loss at the hands of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. Like Haney, Garcia was campaigning at lightweight at the same time as Lopez, and a fight back then was high on the lists of fans.
For it to happen for a world title and with both at a more comfortable weight only adds to the intrigue.
Taylor was open in the aftermath about requesting a rematch, but there’s no forcing it since it was a mandatory challenge. The rivalry is there and the fight was entertaining, so fans wouldn’t grumble.
If that’s not on the table, it’s likely the Scotsman makes a move up to welterweight – something he’s been teasing for a while – or revisits a rematch with Jack Catterall.
Speaking of Catterall, he’ll believe he deserves a shot at the belt following his controversial loss to Taylor last year. Many in the sport believe the Chorley southpaw should currently be the undisputed champion, so a crack at Teo shouldn’t be out of the question.
Lopez may not be able to square it with the WBO with Catterall ranked down at 15, and it’s a harder sell that the others on this list.
Retirement / Hiatus
There’s a chance we see the champion in with none of the above. Since the fight, Lopez has said he’s retired, expressing a desire to want to go out on top and focus on family issues as well as claiming $1 million isn’t enough money for him to fight. Whether or not the WBO will seek to confirm this claim isn’t yet clear.