Teofimo Lopez: ‘I am never satisfied. I have to earn everything in life, and in boxing’
On Saturday night, at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana, WBC interim junior welterweight champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis looked good in front of his hometown, scoring an eighth round TKO over previously unbeaten Juan Jose Velasco, in the main event of the “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN” card.
However a fighter who really hit one out of the park, and may have again stolen the show, in “The Big Easy,” was highly regarded, undefeated lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez, 10-0 (8), who fought in the chief support bout.
Lopez impressed in dismantling William Silva, 25-2 (14), capturing the vacant WBC Continental Americas title.
Lopez dropped Silva in rounds one and five before coming out and drilling him with two vicious left hooks, 15 seconds into round six, to finish him off.
In his previous fight, a first round knockout over Vitor Freitas, last May, in New York, Lopez celebrated with a Fortnite victory dance that lit up social media. On Saturday night, as soon as he saw referee Bruce McDaniel wave off the contest, he mimicked a baseball player at bat, hitting a home run. Lopez then jogged around the ring, as if he were running the bases, in a victory lap. He closed off the celebration with his customary backflip, to the roar of the crowd.
Lopez and his father/trainer Teofimo Sr. have long said they are on a mission they simply call “The Takeover.”
While Lopez is clearly confident, he backs up his confidence in the ring. The Davie, Florida, native is starting to turn heads with his impressive performances that mix slick boxing and angles with fight-ending punching power.
Throw in some entertainment value in the form of fan-pleasing, post-fight celebrations and we have a star in the making.
UCNLive caught up with Lopez and his father on Monday morning, in New Orleans, via phone, shortly before they boarded their plane to return home to Las Vegas, to discuss his impressive performance, and where they see themselves on the road to a title shot.
Bill Tibbs: Congrats on the win Saturday night. Did all go as planned?
Teofimo Lopez Sr.: Well, (Teofimo Jr.) hurt his hand in the first round, and he fought the whole fight with an injured hand. Top Rank will send us to their specialist in L.A., and we’ll get it looked at and see how it is. But like I’ve said all along, as the fights get harder and the competition gets even better, you’ll see Teo look even better. He can read fighters, and he knows exactly how to read them and counter anything they are gonna do. He’ll read them and then set them up for whatever he wants to do. He is only going to get stronger, and he’ll keep improving and get better every fight out. This guy, Silva, was 6-foot-1 and Teofimo had no problem closing the distance.
BT: Obviously you’ll wait to see about the hand but, after that, it’s just moving on closer and closer to a title shot with each fight?
TLSr.: Exactly. He is getting stronger and stronger every two months. He could go into a title shot in his next fight, and I have all the confidence in the world that he would win. You gotta understand; he is only 20 years old. He is still developing into a man, strength-wise. If you wanna fight him, fight him now. You’ll still lose but, c’mon; can you imagine this guy at 22, 23 years of age? He’ll be destroying everyone. You put him in with anyone at 135 pounds and he beats them. I’m telling you; he beats anyone at 135, beats them easy. I’ve been saying this for a long time. You can’t beat speed, and my son is so fast and then the feints and angles he uses. That is something we are always working on. We always have a game plan, and he follows it perfectly. He fought that last guy with one hand for the whole fight. He’s been looking so strong and so much more developed than his age. He’s been like this since he was a teenager. I remember taking him to Robert Garcia’s gym and he destroyed everybody. The other night, Teofimo is fighting with one hand and it was a demolition derby in there…Hang on, Bill; Teofimo just walked up. Let me give him the phone.
BT: Congrats on the win, Saturday night, especially considering it sounds like you fought most of the night with one hand.
Teofimo Lopez Jr.: I just had to relax and stick to my game plan and do what I do. I know that they can’t keep giving me guys that I can beat. At some point they are going to have to give me a shot at a world champion. I’m blessed from God to have the talent that I do, and I just have to keep working hard and stay focused. My job is to train and fight. Whomever they put in front of me I’ll beat them. Soon I’ll get a shot at a world champion, and I’ll beat them also. It doesn’t matter what champion they put in front of me. Put anyone – any fighter in front of me – and I’ll beat them.
BT: How is the hand feeling?
TLJr.: You know, in 15 years of boxing, I’ve never had a hand injury. Never had an injury. I hit him on the top of the head and I started to feel the pain come after that. I didn’t know if it was broken or just hurt, or bruised or what, but I could feel it. One doctor looked at it and said it is broken; another said it looks like it’s not broken, so I’m not sure what is happening. We’ll get it looked at and see what’s up with it. I hope it isn’t broken. That would be frustrating, especially at this time in my career. I hope to fight a couple of more times this year, so I’ll see what is happening with the hand after we get it looked at by a specialist, and then we’ll see after that. At the end of the day, I have to take care of my body.
BT: You tweeted out earlier today that you weren’t happy with your performance on Saturday night. Can you elaborate on that?
Didn’t like my performance but that’s how I am. Felt that I could’ve done more! Oh well, on to the next one..
— Teofimo Lopez (@TeofimoLopez) July 16, 2018
TLJr.: I am my own worst critic. I am very hard on myself. I don’t usually watch my fights after because I am so hard on myself. But I did watch this one and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. I always see things I could have done better, and mistakes that I see others might not but I see them. Maybe it was the right hand hurting? I just felt like I could have placed my punches better and put more combinations together but everything happens for a reason. I was dropping my hands, at times, but if I am dropping my hands, it is because I have already figured you out and I know what you are going to do. Silva was a game guy. I was hitting him with strong shots but I saw the referee wasn’t going to stop it, so I had to take care of it myself. He was game but I like that. I like guys to fight me. I like guys to try and fight me. I like fighting. I want someone to try and fight me.
BT: You and you father have often referenced the frustration you felt in how you were treated in the amateurs. Is that anger or bitterness still a motivating factor in your pro career?
TLJr.: Absolutely. I am never satisfied. I have to earn everything in life, and in boxing. I am very aware that nothing is going to be handed to me. I can’t get too comfy. If I lost or whatever, I would be replaced tomorrow. I’m not special. I know that. The spotlight is on me right now, so I will take advantage of that but I will get everything the hard way: I’ll earn it. And that is exactly what it should be because I am on God’s path. I’ll deal with everything slowly, as it comes. I tell my dad not to get too excited because it will all come. I’m blessed and honored to be here, and I’ll just follow God’s path and it will all come in time. But I realize I am totally on my own. Like I said, boxing would replace me tomorrow, so I made the decision that I am not gonna be a meek, little fish in there. I am going be the killer whale. I’ll be a shark. I’ll be the lion. They can put anyone in front of me that they want, any fighter, any champion at 135, and I’ll beat them.