After nine months out of the ring, former Undisputed World Lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez returned to the ring on August 13th in Las Vegas, NV. Lopez’ return to the ring not only represented a new chapter in his career in coming back from the first loss of his career and loss of his Lightweight crown, it also represented change in that Lopez would now be competing one weight class above the 135lb. Lightweight division. The 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division.
Although this observer does not want to jump ahead too far for the purposes of this column, I certainly do not have to explain the history of the normally talent deep Jr. Welterweight division, nor the long list of names of great fighters who have ventured into the division over the course of their respective careers to most knowledgeable Boxing fans. It was nevertheless part of the story that Lopez, one of Boxing’s hottest stars was now the latest to test the Jr. Welterweight waters.
As I said in previewing this bout, the synopsis of this chapter of Lopez’ career was simple. How he would look now fighting at a higher weight and how would he respond to getting hit by a theoretically bigger and naturally stronger fighter. When you have two fighters of similar styles as was the case here with Lopez and his first opponent at 140lbs. Pedro Campa, who like to come forward and engage, it did not take long to find out how Lopez would respond under such conditions.
Although Campa was not particularly well-known prior to this bout, he did what you would expect a naturally bigger fighter to do against a fighter who was moving up in weight, he applied pressure on Lopez from the outset and was more than willing to engage in heated exchanges of offense. For a period of time during this fight it appeared to for lack of a better term, be two different types of fights in one. Campa appearing to get some of the better of the exchanges when he was able to back Lopez up against the ropes and land power shots with hooks to the head, Lopez getting the better of the action when he was able to stay off the ropes and catch Campa with punches as he was coming forward.
Gradually as the fight progressed, one thing that stood out was the lateral movement of Lopez, particularly with his upper body. In some ways it reminded me of his fight against Vasyl Lomachenko in October 2020 where he walked into the bout with the reputation of a power puncher with the ability to score quick and brutal knockouts, but over the course of that fight Lopez should he could back tactically and subsequently showed that there was more layers to his skillset than his punching power as he out boxed a master boxer in Lomachenko over twelve rounds to become the Undisputed Lightweight champion of the world. This time against Campa, he used his upper body to deflect much of his opponent’s offense and as the fight went on it became more and more noticeable. What also became noticeable was Campa would gradually fatigue as a result of this in addition to Lopez’ ability to use his hand speed, something else he is not known for, to outwork him resulting in Campa having a badly swollen left eye by the middle rounds of the scheduled ten round bout as well as fighting the effects of fatigue.
In round seven, just as it seemed that Lopez would be content with Boxing his way to a convincing unanimous decision victory, he dropped Campa with a short two punch right, left combination sent Campa down to the canvas. Campa showed his mettle by getting up from the knockdown, but he had no answer as Lopez pressed forward with a follow-up flurry of punches that forced Referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight.
If one views things objectively, you would have to be impressed by what you saw in this fight. Not only did Teofimo Lopez bounce back from his first career defeat and the loss of a world championship, he did so in impressive fashion and more importantly did it while being pushed by a “Game” opponent. Although some may argue that if Lopez wanted to he may have been able to end this fight earlier than the seventh round, a fight like this will benefit him more now as a Jr. Welterweight than a quick knockout against a fighter who was unable to provide much resistance would have.
Lopez was pushed by an opponent that came to fight, was not given much ground by Pedro Campa, showed he could take solid punches from a full fledged Jr. Welterweight. The boxes of the synopsis regarding how Lopez would look at the new weight and how he would respond to getting hit by a naturally bigger fighter have been successfully checked.
As the Jr. Welterweight chapter in the career of Teofimo Lopez continues, the question now becomes what’s next? While Lopez does have the name recognition value as a former undisputed world champion to be able to secure lucrative opportunities, this observer believes he likely needs two or three more fights at 140lbs. before he should go after his second world championship. There also exists a very real possibility that fighters who he may have faced as a Lightweight will themselves venture into the Jr. Welterweight division both for their physical health as well as potential opportunities. It is just a question of how soon Lopez will want to get back into the ring and whom his opponent will be that we will start to get a better idea of exactly where he stands in the division. For his first test in the Jr. Welterweight waters, Teofimo Lopez passed with flying colors.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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