‘The Takeover’ has begun. Teofimo Lopez assured the boxing world he would have too much for Vasiliy Lomachenko and lived up to the hype, scoring a hard-fought, unanimous decision win at the ‘Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Saturday night.
Lopez promised and delivered to become the undisputed world champion at 135lbs. All three judges gave the Honduran-American the first seven rounds after an aggressive start, leaving Lomachenko with too much ground to claw back on the cards. The Ukrainian rallied in the second half of the fight but it was not enough. Lopez was too big and strong.
Scores were 116-112, 117-111 and a too wide 119-109 – with Lopez rubber-stamping victory by closing well and winning the last round on all three cards.
Lopez, still only 23, surprisingly outfoxed and outfought master stylist Lomachenko with the Ukrainian neutralised in the first half of the fight. Lomachenko showed greater urgency from the eighth, but it was not enough to make an impression on Lopez and, more crucially, the judges.
The new champion closed with a hardy body attack in the final round, but suffered a cut left eyelid after an accidental head clash in the closing moments of the fight.
“I had to dig deep, man. I’m thankful. I’m grateful. And each and every day, I take that in. I thank God first because I couldn’t do it without him,” said Lopez afterwards.
“I’m a fighter. I got to dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn’t know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight. I can bang, too. I don’t care, man. I’ll take one to give one. That’s what a true champion does. I find a way to win.
“You just got to keep pressuring him, press the gas, stick the jab and don’t really give him that opportunity to set up. Every time he did want to throw, I had something ready for him.
“Man take me to 140. Or I could fight the two-time email world champion Devin Haney if they want that!
“I expected more [from Lomachenko]. He was pretty basic,” added Lopez. “I fought the guy who everyone said was the pound-for-pound [king]. He’s going to the Hall of Fame for being a three-time [division] winner. Facing someone like him and doing what I did, you haven’t seen anything yet. I don’t fear no man. I’m in there to fight. He thought he could take me to the later rounds. He failed. I noticed with him starting to huff and puff. I was two steps ahead of him.
“All it is the takeover, it’s time for the new generation to come up and it was up to me to lead the way for everybody. I knew I won the fight. I outboxed him, and I beat him for most of the rounds. Loma is a hell of a fighter, he knows what he’s doing, but his time is over. There was no rematch clause for a reason. They gave me a contract on the side. Now it’s time for us to take over and move forward. Out with the old, in with the new.”
Lomachenko accepted the decision, but disagreed with it. “I think in the first half of the fight, he got more rounds than I did, but in the second half of the fight, I took it over and I was that much better,” said the Ukrainian. “I want to go home and see what I can do better. I’m definitely not agreeing with the scorecards. I thought I won the fight, but the results are the results, and I’m not going to argue it right now. Right now, I’ll go home and we’ll discus [my future].”
In other action, Arnold Barboza Jr. scored his most significant win to date overcoming a seventh round knockdown to outwork the seasoned Alex Saucedo on the cards. Scores were 97-92 (twice) and 96-93 in the 140lbs 10-rounder.
Brooklyn banger Edgar Berlanga maintained his incredible KO streak scoring his 15th straight first round win over Lanell Bellows, who had never previously been stopped. Super-middleweight Berlanga needed just 79 seconds to overwhelm Bellows with a whirlwind of blows.
Meanwhile, 140-pounder Josue Vargas scored a second round knockdown before registering a clear victory over Kendo Castaneda in a step up in class. Scores were 100-89, 99-90 and 98-91.
Main image and all photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.