Teofimo Lopez Sr. was in a lodge foyer in New York Metropolis in December 2018. The world did not comprehend it but, however when he bumped into Vasiliy Lomachenko — the two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-division world titlist and boxing’s pound-for-pound king — and prolonged his hand, Lopez’s plan for his son was already in movement.
Lomachenko stared at Lopez, and, as the daddy defined to Mark Kriegel final 12 months, that look despatched a message.
I am higher than you. Your son will not be at my degree.
However Lopez Jr.’s success was telling a special story. After beginning his skilled profession in 2016 by racking up some spectacular wins, he promised to “take over” boxing and laid out his path for making that occur — by defeating Lomachenko.
The Lopez household has been calling out Lomachenko for the previous two years, predicting victory. On Saturday evening, predictions and callouts will yield to one of many must-see fights of 2020 as Lopez faces Lomachenko in Las Vegas. Here is a have a look at how Lopez earned his shot towards Lomachenko, and the knockouts and banter that paved the way in which.
Oct. 10, 2016: Prime Rank indicators Teofimo Lopez Jr. to a multiyear promotional contract.
“I believe this child is an actual expertise,” Prime Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum tells ESPN on the time. “The [matchmakers] are actually excessive on him. He is an actual sturdy child and has a very massive future as knowledgeable. He is a great fighter.”
Lopez, 19 on the time, is already evaluating himself to a few of the greats.
“I am an entertainer — obtained to entertain,” Lopez says. “My model — I am technical, very technical. I am very good after I’m within the ring, like Albert Einstein. I am like a Sugar Ray [Leonard], Floyd Mayweather. I am a boxer, but when the knockout comes, it comes.”
Feb. 1, 2018: Lopez introduces the slogan “The Takeover” on Instagram forward of his combat on Feb. 3, 2018, towards Juan Pablo Sanchez in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez went on to win an six-round unanimous choice in his eighth professional combat.
Might 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 combat is on the Lomachenko-Jorge Linares undercard on the Hulu Theater at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York, and the discuss a potential combat between Lopez and Lomachenko begins.
“I like this. I stay for this,” Lopez says. “I advised you guys that that is ‘The Takeover.’ I have been coaching onerous, and I am all the time able to placed on a present for all of the followers. I’ve the facility to harm individuals. I am not right here to play.”
July 14, 2018: Lopez scores one other spectacular TKO victory, this time towards William Silva in Spherical 6.
“Man, what can I say? I advised you I used to be going to take over,” Lopez says in the course of the postfight interview.
Lopez fractures his hand in the course of the combat and undergoes surgical procedure afterward.
Early December 2018: A few nights earlier than Lopez is scheduled to combat Mason Menard at Madison Sq. Backyard, Lopez Sr. tells Mark Kriegel about operating into Lomachenko within the hallway of the lodge the place each fighters are staying.
“The way you doing, Lomachenko?” Lopez Sr. says, providing his hand.
However then Lomachenko provides him that look.
Lopez Sr. begins screaming, cursing, making a scene.
“Yo, you ain’t gonna do nothing. We coming for you. F— you! Come Saturday we’re gonna steal the present!”
It upsets Teofimo when his father tells him. He can see Lomachenko, boxing royalty, disrespecting his father with out having to say a phrase. It pisses him off, Lopez Jr. explains to Kriegel. Then once more, his dad pisses him off, too.
“Why would you try this?” Teofimo says he thought. “Now I obtained to scrub up your mess.”
Dec. 8, 2018: Together with his son combating on the Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza undercard on the Hulu Theater, the elder Lopez tells Kriegel he’s feeling the warmth from Prime Rank for insulting Lomachenko. Senior pulls his son apart earlier than the walkout. “We gotta do one thing nice,” he says. “You gotta look spectacular.”
Teofimo kisses his father on the cheek. “I obtained you, Dad. I am all the time gonna have your again.”
Lopez scores an eye-opening first-round KO of Mason Menard in simply 44 seconds. After the victory, he guarantees to win a world title in 2019.
“2019, it’s ‘The Takeover,'” Lopez Jr. says. “‘The Takeover’ has begun. In 2019 you will notice me with a strap that claims world’s champion. We’re within the stage of my profession the place we will change boxing and convey it again. You all have not seen something like me in a very long time.”
Says Lopez Sr.: “It was like God spoke to me once more.”
Father and son watch the principle occasion from a lounge within the Backyard. Lomachenko — nonetheless recovering from shoulder surgical procedure — goes the gap to beat Pedraza.
Teofimo turns to his father. “Dad,” he stated, “You bought in his head.”
Later within the month, ESPN names Teofimo its 2018 prospect of the 12 months.
Feb. 2, 2019: Lopez continues his takeover with a powerful seventh-round knockout of Diego Magdaleno at The Ford Heart at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
“Teofimo Lopez, whether or not you hate him otherwise you like him, you are still going to look at him,” Lopez Jr. says. “What I am doing proper now’s entertaining. [In] 2019, we’re prepared proper now [to fight for a world title]. We’ve to work within the fitness center. There’s all the time room for perfection.”
Feb 19, 2019: Lopez tells Max Kellerman that he needs to face the world titleholders.
“If [the fight with Lomachenko] occurs, it occurs,” the boxer says. “What we’re on the lookout for is a world title. Who has a world title proper now, Lomachenko has a world title, Richard Commey, he has a world title, Mikey Garcia has a world title, however he is at 147 proper now. … We’re right here to combat the world champions, we’re right here to win the world title, it would not matter who it’s.”
Lopez additionally tells Kellerman that Lomachenko is predictable.
“I really feel like [Lomachenko] does the identical factor again and again in the case of footwork, transferring to the identical aspect. There’s three or 4 methods to beat Lomachenko. … However I am unable to say.”
April 12, 2019: Lomachenko beats Anthony Crolla, and on the postfight information convention Lomachenko is requested who can be essentially the most troublesome to combat and in what order, amongst Garcia, Lopez and Luke Campbell.
Lomachenko says: “I believe the [hardest] might be Campbell, second place is Mikey and … second Mikey,” ignoring Lopez utterly.
After the combat, Lopez’s father advised FightHype.com: “[Lomachenko’s performance was] horrible, horrible, to me. Once we throw jabs, we throw jabs to kill you. Anyone that throws jabs like [Lomachenko throws], I do not actually prefer it. Everyone is on the lookout for an amazing efficiency, and what you bought to convey into an amazing efficiency, you higher convey a thrill, you recognize, and everyone was simply quiet all through the entire efficiency. He knocked the dude out, however you bought to go in there, not respect Lomachenko. You bought to go in there and attempt to take the combat off him. … My son goes in there, you recognize, to whup your ass, he does it from the start. We’re not gonna let Lomachenko simply do something like that.”
Requested about how they’re going to get a combat with Lomachenko, Lopez Sr. says they’re going to get a win by KO in a title combat after which go for Lomachenko to finish The Takeover.
“We’re combating in a co-main occasion on pay-per-view, which I do not keep in mind Lomachenko being in any pay-per-view card,” Lopez Sr. says. “My son solely has 12 fights, and in his 13th combat we’re within the co-main occasion of an enormous card, which is the [Terence] Crawford-[Amir] Khan combat in New York Metropolis, which is one of the best state of affairs, I imply, knock the man out, in New York, like he is all the time accomplished. He is been in New York 5 instances already, 5 knockouts. It is gonna be the sixth knockout in New York, and we’re simply gonna make it devastating and entertaining, like what everyone needs, you recognize.
“Lomachenko stated he would not need to combat my son until he has a belt, so we’re going to convey the belt, after which you recognize what you’re gonna see? You might be gonna see him drop to 130 as a result of he is fearful of my son, and I do know that already. … My son goes to take this man [Lomachenko] out in lower than three rounds.”
April 19, 2019: Lopez reveals confidence forward of his combat towards Edis Tatli, telling ESPN’s Mark Kriegel he is one of the best fighter on this planet.
“You guys have not seen nothing but.”
— Prime Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 19, 2019
When requested who’s one of the best fighter on this planet between himself, Crawford and Lomachenko, Lopez provides an emphatic, “Me, as a result of I’m. I am simply that nice — individuals coming to see me.”
When Kriegel asks Lopez what’s going to occur within the combat with Tatli, Lopez predicts what really takes place.
“What you guys are gonna see isn’t just pace, energy, however ring IQ,” he says. “That is the entire thing: I am a technician after I’m in there. It is all about leisure, man, watch the celebration, the Fortnite dances, all the pieces coming collectively, and ending with a backflip and calling it an evening.”
April 20, 2019: Lopez demolishes Tatli in a fifth-round KO on the Crawford-Khan undercard, and two days after the combat he posts on Instagram: “We got here, We noticed, We conquered! #TheTakeover”
“I desire a world title shot subsequent. That is what I need. We promised to take over the present, and as soon as once more, I took it over,” Lopez says after the combat. “I am prepared for [world titlist] Richard Commey or the [potentially vacant] WBC title. So long as it is for a title, I’m able to go. Nobody can take my energy.”
June 29, 2019: Figuring out he must win a world title to solidify the thought of combating Lomachenko, Lopez posts a photograph of himself with then-potential opponent Commey with the caption studying, partially: “See you quickly.”
July 16, 2019: Lopez and his father are friends on the three Knockdown Rule podcast, hosted by Mario Lopez and Steve Kim. Teofimo Lopez Sr. calls Lomachenko “horrible” as soon as once more.
“Everyone glorifies this man, and that is one factor that [Teofimo] would not perceive. The man [Lomachenko] is horrible,” Lopez Sr. says. “We will take this man out in lower than three rounds, I will say it proper now.”
Lopez Jr. is not too complimentary of Lomachenko both.
“He had an enormous newbie background, he has an enormous newbie pedigree and all that stuff,” he says. “He paved the way in which. Do not get me unsuitable. You’ll be able to’t take that away. Nevertheless it’s the truth that, did anyone actually know him as a lot as they do now? No. It is as a result of we talked about him and all the pieces like that, and we’re sizzling now.”
Added Lopez Sr.: “He hasn’t accomplished nothing.”
Lopez Jr. is days away from going through Masayoshi Nakatani, however he and his father maintain going at Lomachenko, making an attempt to get the combat accomplished.
“Folks need to see this combat, they usually name it a megafight,” Lopez Jr. says in the course of the podcast, as if he is speaking on to Lomachenko.
“My dude, you have been a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a number of weight division champion and all that, but you continue to cannot get a pay-per-view combat?”
July 17, 2019: Two days earlier than the Nakatani combat, Lopez Jr. shares with ESPN his three-fight plan, which features a victory over Nakatani, a combat towards Commey for the IBF light-weight title after which Lomachenko in a unification combat.
It finally ends up being a really correct plan.
“What I see in my son is one of the best fighter that ever lived,” Lopez Sr. tells ESPN. “That is the way in which I see my son. I’ll by no means lie about my son. If my son sucks, he sucks and he would not be on this sport.”
Lopez Jr. understands what his father is making an attempt to do and would not see it as strain.
“There’s instances … I am like, dang, he put me on this place,” Lopez Jr. says. “All proper, I gotta again him up. … I am not gonna make no one make enjoyable of my father.”
July 19, 2019: Lopez wins a unanimous choice over Nakatani, however he would not look good in victory towards the tall and lanky fighter. Is he prepared for the highest fighters at 135 kilos? Is he prepared for a title shot?
“I simply want little tuneups. It is a part of the method. I am grateful proper now,” Lopez says after the combat. “It was my first foremost occasion. It was 12 rounds. Am I happy with it? No, however I am proud that I confirmed everybody I might go 12 rounds.”
Lopez had earned a title shot towards Commey, the IBF titleholder. The Takeover was a step nearer.
Dec. 14, 2019: An unbelievable second-round TKO victory over Commey to win his first world title erases each doubt about Lopez’s expertise.
One proper hand places Commey down. Lomachenko is subsequent.
“I am confused proper now. It is a dream come true,” Lopez says after the combat. “[Commey] is a nasty man. His shot might’ve accomplished the identical to me if he hit me with that shot.
“You all know who I need to combat subsequent — 2020 goes to be an enormous 12 months. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you have not seen something but.”
Lomachenko, who’s ringside, tells ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna after Lopez’s victory: “Now he is a world champion. Welcome to my membership. I see you in April.”
Might 19, 2020: After prolonged discussions, it’s clear that Lomachenko and Lopez have their eyes squarely on one another. There’s no one else within the image, and each fighters state they’re keen to combat even with out followers.
“In speaking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them need an interim combat,” Arum stated. “So we might plan to do this in September, with or with out an viewers.”
Lopez Sr. reiterates the need to go for Lomachenko sooner moderately than later.
“A hundred percent,” he says. “We do not want no tuneups. We’re centered with Lomachenko. That is all we would like is Lomachenko.”
July 22, 2020: Lopez Jr. data movies which can be posted on Instagram and Twitter by which he calls out Lomachenko and tells him to “convey my belts.”
“Aye, and do not forget, convey my belts.” – @TeofimoLopez
— Prime Rank Boxing (@trboxing) July 22, 2020
Aug. 12, 2020: The Lomachenko-Lopez light-weight unification combat is formally introduced for Oct. 17 on ESPN.
Aug. 13, 2020: Lopez Sr. predicts a 3rd KO victory for his son, saying that the combat goes to make Teofimo “a superhero.”
“It is not going to even final three rounds,” Lopez Sr. tells ESPN after the combat is introduced. “When that monster hits him with the primary punch, you are going to see a harm canine with out no legs. He is accomplished. The primary punch goes to vary the entire combat. He’ll want he was by no means in that ring.
“Two years in the past, you keep in mind after I began this, you recognize why? As a result of that is what God put in my head. That is what God put in my head and I do know we needed to beat him. And let me let you know one thing … there by no means had been no one on this planet predict a world championship [for Teofimo] in [just] 15 fights, after which combat Lomachenko in our 16th combat.
“This child is from one other planet, this child will not be regular,” he stated of his son.
Whereas Lopez Jr.’s purse for the combat is much less as a result of followers aren’t in a position to attend, Lopez Sr. persuaded his son to take the combat, saying that not making it might have had a long-lasting unfavorable affect on his profession.
“I advised him, ‘I will provide you with my proportion, bro’, I do not care about cash,” Lopez Sr. remembers. “That is what we did this s— for — for the glory. You’ll be able to ask for something you need after this.”
And a victory will go a great distance for Lopez’s legacy as nicely.
“That is the combat that is going to make my son a superhero,” Lopez Sr. says. “He’ll be like Superman.”
Sept. 8, 2020: Lopez Jr. says on ESPN’s First Take that he plans to complete Lomachenko.
“All the things that this man does that they are saying, [making opponents quit], he is reducing. … He is already on his manner out, and it is exhibiting,” Lopez says. “Your physique can solely take a lot, a lot harm, and I assure you, we’re going to put some harm on this man.”
Sept. 29, 2020: Lopez Sr. tells ESPN that by means of their discuss they have been in a position to rattle Lomachenko and that his son will knock him out on Oct. 17.
“Lomachenko would not know what’s coming. He’s very nervous. I do know that we’re going to win that combat earlier than my son enters the ring, as a result of that’s my job — I’ve to get inside Lomachenko’s head,” Lopez Sr. says. “He has by no means spoken nicely of any boxer and now he says that my son has a excessive IQ in boxing, and earlier than he didn’t say that. I do know I am in his head.
“And my son will not be the identical boxer who beat Commey — he’s a boxer who believes extra in himself. Destroying Commey, an individual that nobody has ever knocked out earlier than, a powerful boxer, good jaw, and the way in which we destroyed him gave my son extra confidence, though my son all the time has the boldness. Lomachenko would by no means have accomplished that to Commey, ever. That combat would have been received by Lomachenko, in fact, however he would have received on factors — he would by no means have knocked him out the way in which my son did.
“My son removed Commey rapidly, and that is what we’re gonna do with Lomachenko, as nicely.
“I already predicted the combat’s not going six rounds, and that is simply the way in which it’ll go,” the elder Lopez says. “We have been proper all these instances, and we’ll be proper on this combat, too. There is not any manner a 126-pounder goes to beat my son. It is simply unimaginable.
“[My son] goes to look manner higher than all the opposite fights he has fought. This man Lomachenko, he’ll make us look good, and I am unable to wait. I advised everyone the higher the fighter is, the better the combat it’ll be for us.”
Oct. 12, 2020: Lopez Jr. says that it doesn’t matter what his father says, he is aware of it’s due to the boldness he has in him to ship within the ring.
“I like my father,” Lopez Jr. tells ESPN, “nevertheless it is not about proving his prophecy. He talks no matter he needs to speak. He made this greater than it wanted to be — I believe everybody must congratulate him on that half. However actually what it’s, it is simply that he is aware of what I am all about. He talks what he talks, he is very assured about it as a result of he sees in me what nobody else sees in me, but.”