The ‘Teofimo Express’ rolls into New Orleans
Lightweight hopeful Teofimo Lopez isn’t the headliner this weekend in New Orleans (that honor belongs to Regis Prograis, who makes his long-awaited homecoming) but he is getting his first chance to showcase his talent on ESPN, as the co-main on this broadcast, Saturday night.
The talented 20-year-old (who has just nine bouts under his belt) wonders what took so long.
“Shoooot, it’s about time,” he said, laughing. “That’s why I say it’s about damn time. This is what I’m made for and I’m definitely excited. I’m happy. It’s my last fight as a 20-year-old before I turn 21, by the end of July. I’m very excited; I’m going to go big. It’s either go big or go home.
“So what better place to go big than in the ‘Big Easy’?”
Yeah, if you get the sense that Lopez doesn’t lack for confidence, it’s because he has an abundance of it. Early on he has shown he is Top Rank’s best young prospect from the 2016 Olympic class, and who, early on. has that look of a future champion. While some in his amateur class have taken some time to acclimate to the professional game, Lopez has looked comfortable from the very beginning, with his well-rounded tools.
When asked if any other prospects impressed him, he cuts in quickly to state, “No. Nope…nobody. Nope. If anything, I impress them. They look up to me. I’m the one leading the way and they know it, and they know that I know it too.”
It goes without saying; he’s brash and bold. The only one who might have a higher opinion of Teofimo is Teofimo Sr. When asked who has more confidence in his skills, he or his father, the son said with a chuckle, “My father. I’m actually kinda nice. He makes me look so innocent.”
Teofimo Sr. is destined to be one of the sport’s real characters in the upcoming years. Think Angel Garcia – but not as shy and reserved.
“My father has so much confidence. He just believes in me, just very, very highly. Sometimes he gets me into situations that I don’t want to get into but, at the end of the day, that’s my father. That’s my coach. I’m always going to look out for him. Sometimes he puts me in things but I back him up, always,” said the son. In the years to come, it will be hard to talk about one Teofimo without the other.
And if you haven’t heard him, here’s a sampling:
If Lopez had his druthers, he’d be moved at a rapid pace.
“It’s the ‘Teofimo Express’; what do you mean? You called it yourself. It’s the Teofimo Express and that’s what we’re doing here. We’re stopping everywhere at every destination, getting as many fans as we can to keep on going,” he said, laughing (and yes, this scribe came up with the “Teofimo Express”). It’s his belief…well, absolute conviction that he will have a championship belt around his waist by age 21.
Not only is Lopez talented, he is a colorful character, as was evidenced after his most recent fight, in which he halted Vitor Freitas, in one round, on May 12, when he capped things off with a memorable celebration dance:
The only downside was most hoped to see more of Lopez on this night. This bout was the last before ESPN went on the air, from the Madison Square Garden, where Vasilliy Lomachenko faced Jorge Linares in the night’s featured bout, for the WBA lightweight championship.
“It’s boxing; it is what it is. You never know what happens in the sport of boxing; everybody knows that. Of course I trained very hard, so I wanted to go longer and I wanted people to see my skill set but what can I do? The guy, I hit him; a lot of people are going to say it’s a rabbit punch, and so forth, but, deep down, I knew where I hit him at – on the right spot,” said Lopez, who is of Honduran descent.
“And that’s it; he could get back up and, for that, I did the celebration. I planned it out; I thought it was going to go rounds, maybe three, four rounds in, and then stop him, and I’d do the celebration but it was the first round. It was my first first round knockout, so I had to celebrate big,” he stated.
Since signing with Top Rank, and turning pro in November of 2016, Lopez has consistently shown he is going somewhere in this sport. While his opportunity at the 2016 Olympics was taken from him in very controversial fashion, Lopez has shown he is a legitimate, blue-chip prospect.
But even this rapid ascent has surprised him a bit, as he admitted to UCNLive.com, “I definitely thought that it was going to be a tough road. I don’t know; it just happened. Everything happens for a reason. I’m just God-gifted and it’s planned out perfectly, better than I expected it to be. So I’m just grateful, at the end of the day. I put God first, always, and he’s blessed me.
“Right now I’m co-main event, going into my 10th fight, fighting on ESPN with a tough opponent – so they say. So for me, it’s just another day in my office.”
There’s no doubt that Lopez has a passion for the sport – and often overlooked component, when projecting where boxers will go in their careers – and it seems he was made for this. When you ask him this question, at first, he says, “No, boxing just came; it picked me up. It said, ‘We want you.’ It was made for me. I didn’t say, ‘Hey, I want boxing.’ I know this is meant for me. It just happened. It happened and it’s not a coincidence. I’m here where I’m at for a reason.”
He promises that the Teofimo Express will stay on the focused and determined track.
“We’re just keeping that on the same thing. We’re not getting sidetracked or anything: No women, no cars, whatever, no smoking, no drinking. Everything is pushed to the side. There’s no detours to success. You gotta keep going.”
So as he says all this, Lopez adds, “I was born for this; so yeah, I was made for this. I didn’t choose it.”
“DeMario Lopez Cousins” talks about his Achilles injury, his road to recovery and we talk all things boxing on this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”
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