Loma vs Lopez – unmasking of a pretender or changing of the guards?

Loma vs Lopez, boxing’s current toast of a match up worldwide is heating up as expected. I’ve been asked many times going into this Sunday’s exciting fight “where are you in this matchup?” Always, I refused to answer directly because honestly, I’m not good at predicting fights. I always give the convenient excuse of “as boxing officials, we are not allowed to comment on any fight.” But why am I writing about this fight now? Heck, simply because it’s too big and too exciting to ignore.

Loma is Vasiliy Anatoliyovych Lomachenko. He hails from Ukraine. He is a three-weight world champion, has held the unified WBA, WBO and Ring magazine lightweight titles since 2018. He has been a top pound for pound boxer for some time now, owing to the fact how “perfect” he disposed of his past opponents. He is what one may call a boxing fan’s dream fighter. He’s devastated when he opts to engage and so fun to watch when he chooses to dance and be technical. He frustrates his opponents so badly that they quit on him ala Roberto Duran’s famous No Mas! Loma is so good that he got his first world title belt in his 3rd professional fight. And never lost since then compiling an outstanding record of 14 wins, 1 loss with 10 knockouts. He currently sits at No. 2 in the latest pound for pound ranking in the world, just a shade below Canelo Alvarez. He is expected to eclipse Canelo if he gets past Lopez in this fight.

And who is Lopez? Lopez is Teofimo Andres Lopez. A brash 23-year old youngster from Arkansas, USA. He’s coming into this fight as the unbeaten IBF champion with a record of 15 wins no losses with 12 of his wins coming by knockout. Teofimo Lopez is wild, with insane power and a talker. He firmly believes, and his camp has predicted, he will knockout Loma, and not only knock him out but he promised he will deliver what could be the 2020 knockout of the year! Some pundits say Teofimo is putting so much unnecessary pressure upon himself coming into this fight and that might backfire on him. But Lopez doesn’t mind. He is throwing caution in the wind and hoping a mega jackpot on this fight. As they say, in order to win big, one must risk big too. Besides, he has youth on his side.

Against this backdrop, boxing fans worldwide anticipate with much excitement this megafight. Will the “sweetness” of the veteran be able to tame the “braggadocio” of the upstart? Or is it time for the proverbial passing of the guard where the youth snatch the banner from the old warrior? I see this fight as greatly dependent on how Lopez will fight. If he will simply box him as a strategy, he will fail. Loma should be fought roughly ala Orlando Salido. He needs to assert himself in him. Rough him up, crowd him, foul him if you must – up to the limits where the referee would allow. Do not fall into the trap of watching him. Do not fall in love with his boxing. The fault of the Rigondeaux, Walters, Pedraza and Campbell, et. al., in the past is that they were awed and somehow intimidated by Loma’s skills even before the bell sounded. They allowed him to fight his fight and showcase his enormous boxing skills atop the ring. I give Lopez a fair chance to pull an upset owing to the fact that his power cannot be ignored and that he is young and unafraid. True, he may not have the same impressive roster of past opponents as Loma, but that is always been that way. When our Manny Pacquiao fought the great Marco Antonio Barrera, his past work pales in comparison to that of the great Mexican. But we know what happened there. Simply put, in boxing one cannot predict when that “passing of the baton” could happen. Would it be Lopez’s time now? I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.