By Carlos Costa
Lomachenko vs Lopez! Yes, finally! In less than 24 hours, two of the most exciting fighters in the Planet will be at each other for the 4-belt unified lightweight world championship, and boxing fans just can’t wait.
Both men easily made the limit of the weight class, 135 pounds, looking in great shape, confident in their fighting skills and more than ready to rumble in one of the most anticipated battles of 2020.
A clash two years in the making is thankfully here, just hours away from the sound of their first bell.
The Ukrainian sensation – the fighter able to read opponents’ move, just like Neo in the Matrix – is favorite among betting fans as well as among boxing analysts who foresee that the more tactical Loma will defeat the young hot shot Latino from Brooklyn, New York.
That’s largely because of the jaw-dropping set of skills that Lomachenko brings to his fights, his ability to throw and land effective punches from sharp angles, his thunderous speed, his confusing footwork, as well as his experience in high-profiled events like this one. Can Lopez match all of that?
To put it in numbers, as of now, betting odds favor the 32-year-old southpaw world champion -450, against +350 for Lopez.
Betting 4,500 bucks for Loma, would earn 1,000 bucks. But putting 1,000 pesos on Lopez, would make 3,500 in return. This tells us two things: one that for this rumble betting fans are clearly more confident on the 2-time Olympic gold medalist’s victory.
And second that even though Loma is favorite, odds for this war are not as wide as they have been in all prior Lomachenko fights.
Therefore, it also means that betting fans recognize that the unbeaten, power-puncher Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s) is “the most dangerous opponent” that Lomachenko has faced since turning pro 7 years ago after his legendary 396-1 amateur career, one of the most riveting performances in amateur boxing history.
That image of Lopez being the most dangerous foe that Loma has ever battled emanates from the New Yorker’s destructive performances in his last 4 fights, outclassing awkward Nakatani and viciously disassembling Menard, Tatil, Magdaleno and Commey.
Those have been Teofimo’s fan-friendly thrilling wins that earned him a place in the minds of boxing fans. Thanks to those exciting knockouts, many of those fans today see him as the man who will stop Loma’s fantastic run. But… will that happen?
Of course, we all know that in boxing anything is possible. As Roberto Duran once said “In boxing nobody is unbeatable.” So Teofimo’s possibilities are real. He is indeed a serious threat. His heavy firepower delivered in effective accurate attacks make him volatile in the ring. For Loma or anyone.
However, one thing is landing solidly, explosively and damaging on Nakatani, on Menard, Magdaleno and on Commey; and another very different scenario is landing neat and clean on Neo from the Matrix. The dangerous and powerful Agent Smith tried and failed, remember? Will Teofimo Lopez succeed?
Well, mis amigos, after thinking it over, I feel that Vasiliy Lomachenko has the skills, the speed, the measured experienced and the calmed cold focus needed to deal with the aggressive unbeaten young Teofimo Lopez.
In my mind, Teofimo’s chances depend solely on his power punching. That’s because Loma’s boxing skills are superior. If early-on in the war the Honduran-American manages to land hard and damaging on Lomachenko, staggering him, stunning him, that could be the door-opening-key from where Teofimo could sneak into an awesome victory.
But if Neo is able to read Teofimo’s attacks as in a hologram (I think he can), evading Teo’s bombs, counter-punching him neatly, confusing him, overwhelming him, then, the chances for the New Yorker to defeat the Ukrainian would diminish rapidly. (my humble opinion)
In consequence, the first three to four rounds of the clash would determine the winner. Those are the initial chapters in which the fresher sharper Teofimo could be more effective, damaging, faster and dangerous. But the more rounds pass by, Loma’s chances would notably increase because of his superior skills, knowledge of the 12-round distance, and extraordinary physical conditioning.
That is why from the getgo Lopez needs to be a storm in the ring tomorrow. Needs to be the aggressor. Needs to come hard at Loma, not allowing his supreme boxing mind to think, just as Duran did to Leonard during their epic rumble in Montreal in 1980.
Teo 100% needs to press the action, tsunami forward, chase Loma down, cornering him, continuously throwing attacks on him. Because there is no way that Lopez possess better technical boxing skills than Loma. Probably even Lopez knows that. Perhaps deep in his mind Lopez knows that Loma is a master technician with unmatched capacity for strategy. Loma’s battle-tested boxing skills have made how many quality fighters surrender in their corner?
Therefore, an effective aggressiveness should be (must be) Teofimo’s game plan; and I am positive that this is what we will see in a few hours’ time.In big contrast, the fight will be a cerebral one for Loma. In fact, Vasiliy said it himself to classy host Joe Tessitore during Thursday’s ESPN entertaining and revealing presser:
“For me, the fight will be like a game of Chess,” said Lomachenko, and that says it all.
We’ll find out soon what approach will win, if Loma’s chess game, or Teofimo’s aggressive approach. Whatever unfolds, we can be so sure that it will be one heck of a fight, a treat to boxing fans overwhelmed with Covid and Trump. Indeed, Loma vs Lopez couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, boxing!
In conclusion, I feel that Lomachenko should outclass Lopez in a fantastic battle. Will it by going all the distance or via TKO that is what we will find out.
We talk more when the fight is over. Stay safe my amigo. Enjoy the fight!
The author boxing writer Carlos Costa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and whatsapp +639184538152.