Teofimo Lopez looks to enjoy another Fighter of the Year-worthy campaign in the year ahead.
What he can’t envision happening 12 months from now is a scenario where his body still allows him to serve as the World lightweight champion.
The 23-year old Brooklyn native is ready to hit the ground running in 2021, eager to make the most of whatever time he has left in the 135-pound division before eventually moving up in weight. The intention is to leave as the undisputed champion, which effectively could be a one- or two-fight process.
““Now, we’re the king of the division. Now, we get to call the shots,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com of his future plans. “I’ve accomplished everything at lightweight. However, do I plan on staying here for another year? No. My body is ready to move up, already.”
First up will likely be a mandatory title defense versus Australia’s George Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs). The bout is currently in negotiations to possibly take place this spring. The rest would depend on how things shake out in the WBC title picture. Reigning titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) is eager to make a mandatory title defense versus Ryan García (21-0, 18KOs), with such a fight due to be ordered by the WBC in the coming days.
“Kambosos should be next for me. But if Kambosos and Australia doesn’t happen for whatever reason, we’re shooting for Devin Haney, Ryan García… we’re not shooting at Tank [Gervonta Davis, who holds titles at 130- and 135-pounds]. We asked Floyd [Mayweather, Davis’ promoter], Floyd said no to the fight. So, we said, ‘Alright, we’ll go for the other guys.’
The planned short stay at the top of the lightweight heap for Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) also puts into perspective his rapid ascension to the title picture. Barely one year after taking a victory lap to enjoy universal praise as 2018 Prospect of the Year, a 22-year Lopez emerged as a breakout star following a 2nd round knockout of Richard Commey to win his first title last December at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Ten months and one fight later came the biggest win of Lopez’s career, outclassing three-division titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) to unify the IBF/WBA/WBO lightweight titles last October in Las Vegas. The bout marked the 13th time in 16 pro fights where Lopez weighed 135 pounds or less and with the likelihood of his growing body being able to handle the weight for a few more months.
“The thing a lot of people don’t know, these guys have just moved up to my weight class,” notes Lopez. “I’ve been 135 for four years already, seven really going back to the amateurs. That’s a looooong time at this weight.
“I just feel like my body is ready to move up. However, one or more two more fights left at 135 is a possibility.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox