There are several chapters one might say that chronicles a fighter’s career. For most fighters that eventually go on to achieve great success as professional boxers, the first chapter usually begins with an amateur career. Upon turning professional a fighter then reaches a stage known as the prospect level. While obviously some fighters will progress further along and eventually become contenders with the aim of challenging and hopefully winning a world championship, not every fighter’s path to that destination is exactly the same.
In the case of Teofimo Lopez, he developed quickly from prospect to world champion in under fifteen professional fights. Lopez did this due to both a crowd pleasing style as well as by building a reputation for scoring quick and often brutal knockouts. It were these attributes that saw Lopez catapulted into a unification bout for the Undisputed Lightweight championship of the world shortly after winning the IBF Lightweight world championship in December 2019 with a second round knockout of Richard Commey.
Despite his reputation as a “Knockout Artist,” to the surprise of many, this observer included, Lopez put forth the most impressive performance of his career by out Boxing and out working master boxer and three-division world champion Vasyl Lomachenko over twelve rounds to become the Undisputed Lightweight champion in October 2020.
As can sometimes happen however, Lopez’ reign atop the Lightweight division was marred by struggles outside the ring, more specifically, the struggle to secure his first title defense against then unbeaten mandatory challenger George Kambosos, which due to a variety of reasons was delayed constantly. When the fight finally did take place in November of last year, the effects of all the delays and perhaps over confidence on part of the young champion resulted in the loss of his crown as Kambosos scored a twelve round unanimous decision over Lopez to win the Lightweight world championship.
All these events now lead to the next chapter of Lopez’ career, his long-awaited return to the ring as he will take on Pedro Campa on August 13th at the Resorts World Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The fight, which will be broadcast here in the United States by digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ not only represents Lopez’ return to the ring, but also his debut in a new weight class as he will he moving up to the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division.
The synopsis of this chapter is obvious, how will Lopez respond to both fighting in a new division in moving up in weight, but also how has he dealt with the defeat to Kambosos. It is important to keep in mind that Lopez is only twenty-five years old and in the days that followed the loss of his undisputed crown, he did not exactly handle the defeat well. Without going into the things that were said during that period of time, it is nevertheless interesting to see whether or not the months that have followed have allowed Lopez to both gain perspective and come to terms with what happened.
There is after all a mental aspect to Boxing and what a defeat can do to a fighter, particularly one that occurred to a fighter in Lopez’ position should not be dismissed. The possibility also exists that Lopez could be looking at this fight to make a statement in his first bout since that loss.
In Pedro Campa, Lopez will face a veteran of thirty-six professional fights that will enter with a respectable record of 34-1-1, with 24 Knockouts. Campa will also come into the fight riding a four fight winning streak in which he has scored knockouts in three of those bouts since fighting to a draw in April 2019 with a fighter by the name of Abner Lopez. Although Campa has been unbeaten since 2017 and has spent his entire career fighting between the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight and 147lb. Welterweight divisions, he is not particularly well-known having never fought outside of his native Mexico and, despite having more experience in terms of total bouts compared to Lopez’ seventeen career bouts, is likely to be viewed as an underdog going into this fight.
Stylistically, Campa does have a style that could be made to order for Lopez in that he likes to come forward, apply pressure, and looks to break down his opponents. The key for Campa will be whether he will be able to get the respect of Lopez early on as the naturally bigger fighter. Campa’s come forward style is perfect for a fighter like Lopez who has a similar style and has a reputation for his punching power. If there is a bit of a difference between Lopez’ previous fights and this one, it will be that for the first time in his career he is going against a naturally bigger fighter, who could theoretically have a strength advantage over him. When one keeps in mind that Campa has scored knockouts of nearly 64% of his opponents, it will be interesting to see if Lopez takes a tentative approach, despite having a career knockout percentage of nearly 71%.
Even though this has the appearance of the proverbial “Comeback Fight” for Lopez and the intention obviously is to have a good performance if you are in his position, it might be best for him to be cautious early as to see A what his opponent will bring into the combat and B how he feels at the new weight limit of 140lbs. Despite not being well-known, Campa should be viewed as dangerous based not only on the appearance of his record, but also the element of the unknown.
As this observer has said frequently over the years, Boxing has always been a sport of opportunity and if Lopez is not at the top of his fight game and/or is potentially looking past Pedro Campa and perhaps towards a potential fight with undefeated unified Jr. Welterweight world champion Josh Taylor, the conditions could be present for what would be considered a significant upset. Based on the two fighters' respective styles, the possibility of an upset is something that should not be dismissed.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Lopez vs. Campa takes place on Saturday, August 13th at Resorts World Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 6:35PM ET/3:35PM PT (Start times subject to change.) For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, how to access ESPN+ through the ESPN app, and to subscribe please visit: www.ESPNPlus.com.
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