Teofimo Lopez: ‘I want to be Top Rank’s youngest champion’
Top Rank will be staging its first world title fight of 2018, on February 3, at the Bank of America Center, in Corpus Christi, Texas, when undefeated WBO world super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez faces off against Habib Ahmed.
This will be Ramirez’s third title defense and will be televised live on ESPN.
The co-main event will feature an IBF world junior bantamweight title fight between Jerwin Ancajas and Israel Gonzalez.
One fighter on the card who fight fans should keep their eyes on is Top Rank’s red-hot lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez, 7-0 (6).
Lopez, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, but grew up in Davie, Florida, and now calls Las Vegas home, is a fighter most feel can be fast-tracked to a world title shot before too long, despite having less than 10 fights on his ledger.
Lopez turned pro in November of 2016 after a stellar amateur career, that saw him represent Honduras at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He also won the 2015 National Golden Gloves and was a six-time U.S. National champion.
He was well-schooled when he turned to the pro ranks and likes the active schedule Top Rank has provided him, that saw him fight six times last year.
After his 2018 debut in Texas, on February 3, he is also scheduled for a March 17 date at Madison Square Garden, in New York City. And that is just the way he likes it, staying busy in the express lane toward an eventual title shot.
Lopez, 20, who was voted on numerous 2017 polls, as one of the best prospects in the sport, including “Prospect of the Year” on Yahoo Sports, definitely sees himself fighting for a world title before too long.
UCNLive.com caught up with the well-spoken 135-pounder, at his Las Vegas home, to discuss what he sees for the coming year.
“I am one of the best prospects of 2017. Yahoo Sports saw me as the best prospect of the year,” said Lopez, regarding how he feels at this stage of his career. “Top Rank saw the potential in me. I am very pleased the way they have been moving me. I am very grateful for what Top Rank has done for me. (Top Rank CEO) Bob Arum himself said he sees me as a future star. I think they see that I am their future star.”
Lopez, who is always in shape and never weighs more than 10 pounds over his fighting weight, is very confident in all aspects of his game.
“I don’t see any flaws in my game. I am always working on my jab and developing that part of my game, as that is the foundation for your combinations in the ring,” he said. “But, I mean, I have never been dropped. I never had an eight-count in the amateurs. I have a very high boxing IQ, in the ring. I take care of my body. I know that one punch can change a fight; one punch can change your life.”
Florida will always have a special place for Lopez as he grew up there and boxed throughout his amateur career in the “Sunshine State.” However he is thrilled with his move, last summer, to Las Vegas, where he trains out of the Top Rank Gym, with his father and trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr.
“Living out here in Vegas, which has been the best move for me and my career, is great. It’s all work here,” said Lopez. “My dad, who has trained me for my entire boxing career, thought a move out to Vegas would be the best thing for me and it is great. I love doing this. I have been doing this since age six. It is my whole life.”
Lopez, who has stopped six of his seven opponents, thus far, in his career, knows what fans want to see and he is more than happy to deliver.
“I am very composed in the ring. I mean, I know that, as a boxer, you have to be an entertainer in there and give the fans what they want. I am entertaining in the ring. Not everyone is going to like it but they will remember me and know who I am,” he said. “I believe God has given me gifts and I make the most of those gifts. I can adapt to any style in there. There is no pressure for me in there. This is what I live to do. This is what I was born to do. The crowd is like a drug and I am addicted to the crowd and putting on a great show for them. You gotta dream big and have big goals. I love being out here in Vegas. It’s all work and all focus on my career. I am a family man and I live a quiet life out of the ring but not in the ring. That is my pace to shine, to put on a show for the fans.”
While only 20-years-old, Lopez shows a ring maturity not seen by a lot of fighters at that age. He can box; he has power and is very confident that 2018 will be the year the boxing world really takes notice of him.
“I used to feel sorry for people but not no more. I am humble and polite outside the ring but not in the ring. That isn’t the place to be humble. This is my family’s bread and butter; this is war. You can’t be humble in the ring. Like I said, I’m polite and humble but not in the ring. I want to show people what I have. I want people to really start to take notice of me and – believe me – they will this year. You’re going to see some special things this year. I haven’t even hit my peak yet. I’m still young; I’m still growing,” said Lopez. “I was made for this. This is my life. I want to be Top Rank’s youngest champion. I see a world title maybe by at the end of this year but if not early-2019, for sure.”