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Is Teofimo Lopez poised to Takeover at 140?

By: Kirk Jackson

Operation Takeback was successful, and The Takeover is back. 

Teofimo Lopez (17-1, 13 KO’s), the former lightweight unified champion and who many considered king of the division, is now at junior welterweight and aims to be a force to be reckoned with.

Making his return since last suffering defeat last November, Lopez knocked out Pedro Campa (34-2-1, 23 KO’s) in the seventh round Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,553 at Resorts World Las Vegas.

Footage courtesy of Top Rank Boxing.

“We’ve been at 135 for about nine years. It was killing my body since I was a teenage kid,” Lopez said post-fight.

“I just turned 25. I am grateful for the return. I told you all, don’t call this a comeback. This is the Takeover’s takeover.”

Scope of Analysis

How should we grade this performance – given the context of the caliber of fighter Campa is?

It’s safe to safe Lopez looked really good considering his long layoff. He looks mentally recharged and the time-off, along with moving up in weight may be just what he needed to refocus and regroup.

But it’s also fair to pose the question, how good is Champa? Who did Campa defeat, how does he measure via the eye test?

Champa’s last two opponents prior to facing Lopez were Carlos Sanchez (22-1, 18 KO’s) and Abimael Cruz
Bautista (8-1, 7 KO’s). They were undefeated at the time, but not considered elite or threatening contenders (with all due respect).

Eye test wise, Campa looked strong, sturdy and showcased a more refined skill set under his new trainer, but he and Lopez looked like they were in different leagues.

Part of that is a testament to the skills of Lopez, part of that is the lack of talent and ability of Campa. To his credit, Campa fought well and hard, but he could not close the gap.

Lopez (pictured right) lands left up-jab on Campa (pictured left).

For more on The Take Back and The Takeover please read: Teofimo Lopez’s: Takeover the Sequel? – The Scope Network

Lopez appears healthy physically, his bravado may suggest to some mentally he is in a good place.

Of course, the boxing ring is known as a revealer of truths and the public will get a greater glance at Lopez’s mental state and possible additional displays of mental fortitude, granted he graces the ring with some of the sharks at junior welterweight.

Who would we like to see Lopez fight next?

Who are these “sharks” we speak of at junior welterweight?

“We want Josh Taylor. We want these guys. We want {Regis} Prograis. We want {Jose} Zepeda,” said Lopez during his post-fight interview.

“We want all the belts. We want to become two-time undisputed champion.”

“If Josh Taylor is too busy with his wedding and there’s nobody else around because the WBA belt is taken and the WBC is going to be fought with Zepeda and Prograis, then so fucking be it,” Lopez continued.

Those sharks being the aforementioned Prograis, Zepeda, Taylor – all high-quality fighters at junior welterweight. Another name not mentioned verbally by Lopez, but was in attendance is Barboza Jr. (27-0, 10 KO’s).

“I always said that Teofimo Lopez is a great athlete. I always said he has great talent and is a great fighter,” Barboza told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna while being interviewed post-fight, on air and in the ring.

“But I just feel like at 140 it still hasn’t transitioned. He looked a little slow. I pictured myself in the ring. Pedro Campa isn’t me. I just think if it was me, it would have been a whole different fight.”

“I saw a lot of flaws that I would expose. I’m happy I came here to experience it right in front row. We’re hoping to fight him next.”

Barboza was previously mentioned by Lopez’s team as a possible opponent, though the fight never materialized. But perhaps, the time is now.

Another “shark” craving action is former Olympian, undefeated professional, Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16 KO’s).

The skilled southpaw is a menace thus far during his professional stint and should be challenging for a world title in the near future. His last two fights were against former world champions, Viktor Postol and Rances Barthelemy.

The likelihood of these two powers colliding at this point is slim to none, due to the political landscape of boxing and the old adage of not going out of your way to face the toughest opposition without securing significant incentives.

The risk versus reward factor.

Incentives you say?

Those incentives varying between the financial repercussions and if there would be world titles or positioning at stake. These variables tend to weigh heavily for top fighters (or their managers and promoters) in the sport when it comes to opponent selection.

It’s high risk, low reward for making the match with Russell, in addition to the political strife between Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions (promotional company Russell is largely tied to).

The same political issues that could prevent Lopez from eventually fighting Gervonta “Tank” Davis (27-0, 25 KO’s).

There was another interested observer ringside to witness “The Takeover” in action this past weekend, he being Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Ryan Garcia.

“Coincidentally, Ryan Garcia is in his weight class and looking for a dance partner. Obviously, there’s talk about Tank [Gervonta Davis], and Ryan fighting Tank. I want to explore options. Why not? We want to fight the very best.”

Garcia (23-0, 19 KO’s) is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Javier Fortuna this past July 16 at Arena in Los Angeles.

There could be significant financial incentives for both fighters if they make this fight. They’re young, exciting, engaging with the audience and they both have something to prove in their division. They’re both new to the division and aiming to make a large splash.

Footage courtesy of Top Rank Boxing.

Who will Lopez likely fight next?

Barboza Jr. and Jose Ramirez 26–1 (17 KO’s) stand out as possible opponents for Lopez when he returns in December. It’s an easy fight to make from the promotional aspect and each party would likely appear willing to make the fight happen.

It’s fair to suggest, Lopez may need a little more time to acclimate into the division, and while Ramirez is not a soft touch, he’s a former world champion, coming off a long layoff and that could be an advantage for Lopez – from a matchmaker’s standpoint.

But also, for Ramirez, this could incentivize to perform at a higher level and show he wants to reclaim his top position within the division.

Closing Notes…

The initial stages of Operation Takeback were successful for former unified champion from Brooklyn. For there to be a complete takeover, it doesn’t stop here.

The same waves made at lightweight and must again commence in this new division. Rivals must be challenged, and statements must be made.

How poised Teofimo Lopez is, will be revealed in time, but for now he is definitely in position.

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