Teofimo Lopez is vague enough to challenge Vasiliy Lomachenko, and good enough to defeat him.
Lopez dominated early and ended the strong Saturday night to win a unanimous 12-round decision on Lomachenko to combine lightweight titles into a fight he demanded even though some thought he was not experienced enough .
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Lopez took advantage of a slow start by Lomachenko to generate an early lead, then ended the match in a big 12th round that left Lomachenko bloody and beaten on scorecards. The 23-year-old from Brooklyn became a unified lightweight champion and was able to do what some boxing think he can do ̵1; the outbox is probably the best boxing technician.
Lopez (16-0) added three titles held by Lomachenko (15-2) to the belt he won last year to be the undisputed 135-champion.
Lopez favored 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112 in ringide scorecards in a match held without fans at the MGM Grand conference center. The Associated Press beat Lopez 117-111.
Lopez proved faster and stronger than 32-year-old Lomachenko, who won two Olympic gold medals as a beginner and was considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters as a pro. Surprisingly, he was also the better boxer and proved he could close the show by bleeding Lomachenko’s eye in the 12th round.
“I have to dig deep, man,” Lopez said. “I’m a fighter, I have to dig deep.”
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Lomachenko, usually a slow starter, was very slow at this time as he gave early rounds as he tried to figure out Lopez’s style. By the time the match became competitive in the eighth round he was far behind to return.
“She’s been in a 14-month layoff,” Lopez said. “I know it will take him a long time to catch up.”
Lomachenko, who only lost once in nearly 400 amateur fights and only had one loss as a pro, thought it did better than the indicated scorecards.
“I certainly don’t agree with the scorecards,” he said.
The fight is the biggest since the pandemic started and will be a pay-per-view event in normal time. But without fans it was televised on ESPN, providing boxing with a bigger showcase than otherwise.
Lomachenko is a favorite 4-1 but looks rusty early on as he tries to resolve Lopez’s style. He calmly threw punches in the first half of the game, with only 31 landing in the first seven rounds, before finally gaining speed in the eighth round.
“I think the first half of the fight he got more rounds than me but in the second half of the fight I took it,” Lomachenko said. “I’m better.”
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Punch statistics show Lopez scored 183 of 659 punches while Lomachenko was scoring 141 of 321. In the 12th round Lopez defeated Lomachenko 50 to 19 and opened a cut that blood flowed to his face and prompted referee Russell Mora to stop the fight 10 seconds left for the ring doctor to see before proceeding.
His father told Lopez on the corner before the 12th round that he was ahead and do not risk it. But he came out strong and beat Lomachenko with the fist.
“I don’t know if they got him on the scorecards or not,” Lopez said.
Lopez made his trademark backflip in the ring after announcing the unanimous decision.
Lopez became the youngest fighter to become the champion of four belts in his second title only. He sought the fight against Lomachenko, whose Ukrainian outrage over his brash tactics.
“I love to fight and I can also shoot,” Lopez said. “That’s what a true champion does. I go out there and look for a way to win.”