An in-depth breakdown of the biggest Lightweight showdown of the year.
Not often do top tier pugilists actually face each other at the right time in their respective careers. We have too many examples of fighters being unable to negotiate contracts until it is too late. Due to certain unnamed promotions, many mega fights lose their value when one of the two fighters involved ends up taking an unexpected loss, losing much of their coveted star power that fueled the prospective altitude of the big money fight, essentially lowering the revenue and scope for a now less marketable potential match up, which at one time could've generated possible record inducing PPV numbers.
Luckily, Bob Arum and Top Rank are not making the same mistake in this situation, pitting two men amongst the top of his own talented stable against one another.
On one side of this match up, in the perceived challenger position, we have the 23-year-old lion of a prospect,
The American Teofimo Lopez.
In only 15 fights he has shown that he has the skills to be a serious problem for the lightweight division, and considering his recent comments, that problem may extend to 140 and beyond.
The young up and comer has quickly risen to become a fan favorite due to his crown pleasing style, dispatching twelve of his fifteen opponents inside the distance. He is very crafty when setting up his most dangerous weapon, a momentous, deceptive, Smokin` Joe like left hook. When Lopez is able to sit down on that springing nightmare of a punch, the results can be devastating.
Enter the Matrix ...
In the other corner, A 31-year-old veteran of the worlds oldest form of competition. In a relatively short time, he has made an impact on the sport the likes of which we may have never seen. Comfortably, in one of the top three spots on any competent pound for pound list, reigns the Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko.
Part of a small group of two-time Olympic gold medalists,
Vasyl is regarded by many as the greatest amateur boxer of all time. This statement comes hard to argue due to The man possessing a seemingly typo induced amateur record of 396 wins, with only one loss, which was avenged, twice.
In order to properly analyze the possible outcomes of this super fight, we must first take a look at each champions trajectory that lead up to their inevitable collision.
The Biggest Factor on Fight Night
One of the most eye-catching things I see when I analyze this bout, has got to be the immense gap of in-ring experience between each participant.
From a glance, it would seem both these guys have had similar roads to get to where they are today. Both have stepped into the squared circle fifteen times, the only difference being that the American has been perfect throughout, whereas Loma lost a controversial decision to the greatest rule bender in boxing, the veteran Orlando Salido, in his second professional bout.
When you take that information at face value, it would seem as if Teofimo Lopez has the edge, but if we look closer, we can see several major differences pertaining to the level of in ring experience between the two.
The American is undefeated in fifteen outings, twelve of those bouts ending in often brutal knockouts. He has showcased athleticism that is well above par for his weight, an adept boxing ability, and a natural inclination toward showmanship that will eventually make this man a top draw, for hardcore and casual fans alike. I see nothing but potential in this young man.
His only issue is that, despite having a similar amount of ring time as the Russian, Lopez has not gotten anywhere near the caliber of learning experience as his upcoming foe.
To make it simple, I'll explain this,
In Teofimo Lopez's fifteen fights, his individual opponents records add up to a win/loss sum of 254-49, which is not bad compared to most young prospects, who are often inclined to begin their professional career with a quantity over quality approach. Instead, Teo has skipped the cushion stacking route, after a few necessary introductory bouts, Lopez quickly started taking on tough competition. This is a testament to why he has quickly snuck into a conversation of title legitimacy in a weight class that may be more star studded and exciting than it has been at any point since the inception of the “Marquess of Queensbury”. He is a natural born Superstar. Charismatic, flashy, entertaining. He is basically a Bob Arum wet dream.
Vasyl Lomachenko is an anomaly. From his first professional fight, he has only fought the very best available.
His professional opponents win/loss record stands at 431-39.
With all but one of his fights contesting for world titles.
This kind of takeover is unheard of.
His success is due to his camps foreign approach to the sweet science. The style is homegrown, Vasyl was coached from a young age by his father and their outlook on boxing is unlike any we have seen before. The main proponents of the family approach are movement, angles and vision.
While every gym and coach have a different approach to how, and what exactly they teach their pupils, their criteria normally revolves around a slightly modified-century old set of fundamentals.
(excluding the Kronks, Wildcard's, Mayweathers, Etc.)
I would be willing to bet a majority of boxing gyms around The United States and parts of Europe, teach the traditional, hands high, jab heavy set ups for combos based around outscoring and wearing on the opponent.
This age old prototype was completely disregarded by Anatoly. The route taken by Mr. Lomachenko took to train his son was about as far outside the box as any father, and/or coach has ever ventured. It has been known that establishing a constant interest and practice in the malleable years of childhood can produce prodigies. Not only did Loma’s father introduce him to the sport early, he altered the traditional approach to focus heavily on geometry and footwork, going as far as making a young Lomachenko take a Russian dancing class for years to produce dexterity in his sons feet. The Father Son duo has done much more than produce a prodigy, their ingenious approach may be changing the way we look at the sweet science forever.
Within the next decade we will see the Lomachenko approach to learning the sport takeover boxing gyms around the world. With many coaches adopting many aspects of his style, similar to how Gene Tunney's introduction of the jab changed the criteria of how we go about coaching future pugilists.
I am compelled to think of Canelo Alvarez, who was quickly becoming a superstar, and earned the opportunity to fight the undefeated, PPV king Floyd Mayweather. Many, including myself thought Canelo was going to be too much and it seemed liked this could have been that passing of the torch moment we have seen so many times in the past.
Instead we saw a brutal learning lesson handed down from the established king to the future boxing royalty. I feel like we could be looking at the same kind of outcome here.
Teofimo Lopez is an outstanding prospect with a very high projected ceiling. He stands to one day establish himself amongst the pound for pound of the sport, but Vasyl Lomachenko has shown us that he understands the science like Albert Einstein, and come October 17th, Teofimo Lopez will hopefully have his notepad open ready to learn a lesson that will serve him in the future.