Saturday’s match between Vasyl Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez at the MGM Grand “Bubble” is the most-talked-about fight since Wilder-Fury II– and the good news for fight fans in North America is that it will air free on ESPN !
Whenever a fight of this magnitude comes down the pike, we ask our panel of writers to share their thoughts. The respondents are listed alphabetically.
MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI -- I have never quite bought into all the hype surrounding Teofimo Lopez. He is talented no doubt but still somewhat raw as we saw in his fight last year against Masayoshi Nakatani. In my opinion Lopez is nowhere near ready for a seasoned fighter such as Lomachenko. I see a replay of Calzaghe-Lacy. Lomachenko by wide unanimous decision.
BERNARD FERNANDEZ -- This isn't exactly a case of an aging, fairly well-worn Joe Louis giving way for Rocky Marciano. Lomachenko hasn't fought in a while, but he does not have so many miles on his boxing odometer that he has left all of his prime in his rear-view mirror. Nor is Lopez as fully formed at this stage as he and his backers are apt to believe. The kid's power might make for a sudden lightning strike, but I see Loma dipping into his deep bag of tricks and fashioning a unanimous-decision victory.
JEFFREY FREEMAN -- Vasyl Lomachenko UD 12. Both exciting fighters have 15 professional fights but there is a vast difference in world class experience favoring Lomachenko. I could see Lopez stunning Lomachenko or scoring a flash knockdown—but not winning. Lomachenko is still good enough to give Teofimo a boxing lesson!
THOMAS HAUSER -- The odds are much too long on this one. Lomachenko has struggled a bit at 135 pounds and Lopez is a big lightweight. I'll pick Lomachenko by decision. But I wouldn't be shocked if Lopez stops him, either by turning the tide with one big shot or breaking Vasyl down with a sustained body attack.
ARNE LANG – The history of boxing is all about young guns blasting out veterans with solid-gold reputations. The “Takeover” is tugging and the odds are juicy, but I just can’t pull the trigger. Lomachenko was reputedly 361-1 as an amateur (87-1 documented), was 6-0 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing, and is 14-1 as a pro. That makes the Ukrainian one of the greatest winners in the history of sports and betting against him would seem to be as perilous as betting against Joey Chestnut in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
KELSEY McCARSON -- I thought I would be picking Lopez this week, but here we are and I'm going with Lomachenko. Lopez is just 23 years old, and I think he has a bright future ahead of him. But the 32-year-old Ukrainian southpaw savant has an almost absurd boxing skill set at his disposal, and I think Lopez will end up being a little too green and a tad too emotional to get the job done on fight night. Lomachenko via unanimous decision, but it's a fun and close bout that people talk about for a long time.
MATT McGRAIN – There are stories circulating that Vasyl Lomachenko is losing interest; if it is so, Teofimo Lopez may fulfill his prediction of an early knockout. For me though, if Hi-Tech was slacking the ructions would be more audible so the sensible pick remains Lomachenko on points. There are some interesting vibes surrounding this fight though and it might be really fun watching him get there."
SEAN NAM -- Teofimo may possess all the right qualities – size, quickness, power, and counterpunching ability – to theoretically unhorse Vasyl Lomachenko, but he will also be treading in the deep end for the first time in his career. Richard Commey, whom Lopez mowed down in two rounds in his previous bout, is hardly preparation for the stylistic oddity that is Lomachenko; the Ukrainian is the rare pressure fighter who pairs volume with dexterity and precision. Like most supposedly elite fighters today, Lopez’s reputation outstrips his actual accomplishments. It was only two fights ago that Lopez was seen eating a surprising number of right hands by an unheralded and fairly uncomplicated Masayoshi Nakatani. If Lopez cannot find a way to consistently force Lomachenko on his backfoot and stymie his frenetic workrate, he will be in for a long – and punishing – night. Lomachenko, a natural 126-pounder, may be at a distinct size disadvantage at 135, as his fights against Pedraza, Linares, and Campbell have revealed, but he has otherwise been dominant at the weight. A competitive start turns ugly by the end. Lomachenko by UD. – SEAN NAM
TED SARES -- Teofimo Lopez will put Loma through Hell during the first round, but then Loma will figure out the brash Lopez and stop him brutally in the mid rounds. The fact is, we have been hearing too much talk from Lopez and that has caused many to forget just who Vasyl Lomachencko is. On Saturday he will remind us.
PHIL WOOLEVER -- Having seen neither gentleman fight live, I'm going purely on statistics and in that sense the only category favoring Lopez is age. More crucial factors like experience and quality of opposition point to a dominating win for Lomachenko, with around a 75% chance of a stoppage whoever wins.
The graphic is by Colorado comic book cover artist ROB AYALA whose specialty is combat sports. Check out more of Ayala's cool illustrations at his web site fight posium.
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