We have a new lightweight king. Just 23 years old, Teofimo Lopez became the world’s undisputed lightweight champion by eliminating Vasiliy Lomachenko over 12 tense rounds inside the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Lopez becomes the youngest fighter to become a four-belt champion since the WBO was founded in 1
After a strong start, Lopez overcame a late Lomachenko rally to win with scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111.
The fight was dominated early on by boxing by Lopez, who controlled the center of the ring using his well-trained left hand and then hit Lomachenko with well-placed body shots that had the smaller boxer backing up.
Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) built a big lead on the scorecards as he was able to neutralize the graceful moves of Lomachenko (14-2, 10) behind that jab. For most of the first half of the match, Lomachenko just moved around the ring and did very little offensively. It was clear that Lopez’s technical sharpness and attitude were greatly underestimated. For long stretches of the fight, he was actually backing out of the master boxer.
Still, Lomachenko did not give up without a fight. As the match entered the late stages, Lomachenko began to feel that he was behind, increasing the pressure and began to close the gap on Lopez. He hit him with fast, laser-like left hands that slowed Lopez’s momentum. To his credit, Lomachenko put together a late rally in the championship rounds.
“I think the first half of the match got more rounds than I did, but in the second half of the match I took over,” Lomachenko said. “I was much better.”
But if a late statement by Lopez was needed, it was made in the 12th and final round. Despite Lopez’s father saying he had won the match into the final round, Lopez kept up the pressure and got his hand in motion, landing several significant power shots that stopped Lomachenko in his tracks. Only a head-on collision that caused a gash over Lopez’s left eye strained the tide.
“I’m a fighter,” Lopez said after the fight for the 12th round. “I have to dig deep. I knew he would come. I did not know if they had him on the scorecards or not and I love to fight. I can knock too. I do not care, man. I I take another to give one. That’s what a true master does. I find a way to win. “
This round was a late announcement of what was an excellent performance by a young man who met the fate of his foreign father, who prophesied that not only would his son win a world championship at his 15th match, but he would topple a boxer who many consider the best in the sport at his 16.