Teofimo Lopez Sr. was in a hotel lobby in New York City in December 2018. The world didn’t know it yet, but when he ran into Vasiliy Lomachenko — the two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-division world titlist and boxing’s pound-for-pound king — and extended his hand, Lopez’s plan for his son was already in motion.
Lomachenko stared at Lopez, and as the father explained to Mark Kriegel last year, that look sent a message.
I’m better than you. Your son is not at my level.
But Lopez Jr.’s success was telling a different story. After starting his professional career in 2016 by racking up some impressive wins, he promised to “take over” boxing and laid out his path on making that happen — by defeating Lomachenko.
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7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN and ESPN Deportes: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez, 12 rounds, for Lomachenko’s WBO and WBA lightweight titles and Lopez’s IBF lightweight title
The Lopez family has been calling out Lomachenko for the past two years, predicting victory. On Saturday night, predictions and callouts will yield to one of the must-see fights of 2020 as Lopez faces Lomachenko in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at how Lopez earned his shot against Lomachenko, and the knockouts and banter that paved the way.
Oct. 10, 2016: Top Rank signs Teofimo Lopez Jr. to a multiyear promotional contract.
“I think this kid is a real talent,” Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum tells ESPN at the time. “The [matchmakers] are really high on him. He’s a real strong kid and has a really big future as a professional. He’s a good fighter.”
Lopez, 19 at the time, is already comparing himself with some of the greats.
“I’m an entertainer — got to entertain,” Lopez says. “My style — I’m technical, very technical. I’m very smart when I’m in the ring, like Albert Einstein. I’m like a Sugar Ray [Leonard], Floyd Mayweather. I’m a boxer, but if the knockout comes, it comes.”
Feb. 1, 2018: Lopez Jr. introduces the slogan “The Takeover” on Instagram ahead of his fight on Feb. 3, 2018, against Juan Pablo Sanchez in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez went on to win an eight-round unanimous decision in his eighth pro fight.
May 12, 2018: Lopez continues The Takeover with a first-round KO of Vitor Freitas. Lopez celebrates the victory with the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite. The fight is on the Lomachenko-Jorge Linares undercard at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York and the talk about a possible fight between Lopez and Lomachenko begins.
Teofimo Lopez Jr. lands a grazing right hand that sends Vitor Freitas to the canvas, and he uses the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite.
“I love this. I live for this,” Lopez says. “I told you guys that this is ‘The Takeover.’ I’ve been training hard and