Arguably the biggest fight of the calendar year takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas between WBA, WBC ‘franchise’ and WBO champion, Vasyl Lomachenko and unbeaten IBF champion Teofimo Lopez in one of the most even global contests in recent years.
The fight is being promoted by Top Rank and the action will begin from 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ and on FITE TV in the UK.
Lomachenko has a record of (15-1) and will be looking to fight off the incoming threat of undefeated rising star Lopez (15-0) and the pair last met in the ring after Lopez defeated Richard Comney in December 2019 and gained his strap after an explosive second round stoppage.
BBN Editor Ben Davies previewed the huge lightweight clash in Las Vegas:
An exceptional amount of anticipation and interest will be on the MGM in Las Vegas this Saturday night as one of the most highly conjected boxing events since the global pandemic arose this year takes place between lightweight great Vasyl Lomachenko against a very real undefeated threat in Teofimo Lopez.
This hugely touted clash was initially scheduled for Spring 2020, but a hot rivalry began long before Lopez earned his world title stripes in December 2019, with the pair first talking about each other as far back as April last year where Lomachenko spoke of his opponent stating "the strong person is never going to shout about it, that person is just going to silently do the thing and prove it with their actions and not words.”
The Ukranian has only once been defeated in a shock result against an overweight Orlando Salido back in 2014 but has not looked back since, despatching of Luke Campbell, Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla who have all spoken about the exceptional power and strength that the three-weight world champion possesses with every punch he throws. However a very exciting, young power-puncher in 'El Brooklyn' has emerged rapidly from the shadows of New York in recent years, with supreme confidence and the complete desire to take apart the top fighter in the lightweight division.
Standing at 5'8 and holding a tremendous amount of backing for his notorious hard-hitting, action-packed style Lopez has a very realistic chance at causing a vast amount of discomfort for Lomachenko in the ring, and will be keen to explode into the fight and set the tempo with no fear of going toe-to-toe with an elite level fighter. Lopez has already spoken about his youthful advantage, citing his superb strength and conditioning for boasting a knockout ratio of 80% during his professional career. We saw this in abundance during his latest fight where he rattled some crunching shots early on to his opponent Commey forcing an early stoppage with a superb right hand that landed with speed and accuracy to avoid an oncoming right of Commey, and shot himself onto the global stage raising the complete attention of his counterpart in the ring on Saturday night
Trained and mentored by his father Teo Lopez Sr. throughout his career, the self-assured lightweight world champion has not got the same professional pedigree as his opponent and has never really been tested later into the championship rounds apart from in just two of his previous fights that have previously gone to decision including a recent tough test against Masayoshi Nakatani where he was ahead by a large margin from the offset after a dominant performance on the scorecards. We have seen in past fights that Lopez has superb ring craft and is able to box well setting up neat shots, but will need to make sure that he has a more advanced skillset to outbox one of the most gifted boxers of the current boxing superstar crop.
Lopez will be looking to largely involve himself in scrappy exchanges and come forward into the fight to turn it into a brawl and power contest against an opponent with a top-level boxing mind, and will have to take control of these exchanges in order to give himself the opportunity to exploit his potentially superior power and land a huge shot at any certain time in the fight, which could switch the momentum with no crowd present. The American will also want to try and land as many of his trademark power shots as possible to see if a traditionally small contender at 135 in Lomachenko can take the shots and continue to replicate his dominant displays after huge shots, just as he has shown against Jorge Linares.
'Hi Tech' has defined size and power challenges throughout his career, becoming a three-weight world champion and being an extremely dangerous aggressive customer for any fighter during his professional outings in the ring. Throughout the build up the Ukranian has remained grounded and heavily focused on what he has become aware is a much more awkward task than in many of his previous bouts, and has remained composed despite a large amount of confidence and confrontation from the Lopez camp ahead of this astronomical occasion.
Lomachenko is well known for his tremendous power and precision, in addition to elite shot selection and boxing technique which always hands him the edge in his fights to date, and will no doubt be a severe stumbling block in Lopez's early career on Saturday night. He has sprung into the spotlight as a true current boxing icon, with calmness and composure personified in the ring and has a truly remarkable career with fifteen professional fights involving a world title and truly taking on some elite fighters throughout his career. Many believe that the Ukranian could hold the key once again, with his top level pedigree and boxing intelligence leaving a very deep impression on previous opponents with Luke Campbell labelling his judgement and range as 'the best he has faced'.
As well as bearing a burning desire to become the number one man in the division, Lomachenko has the most incredible amateur career winning 396 fights in total with just one defeat, and combined with a wily grit and toughness has passed every single examination with flying colours throughout his career including power-punchers and technical boxers so is capable of combatting any change of style that his American opponent could throw at him in Vegas under the global microscope.
Irrespective of the result, the lightweight clash with the highest possible stakes is a truly even fight which is often rare in a world of mandatory challenges and enforced contests by governing bodies and is simply a must watch in a year with reduced competition as a result of the ongoing concerns around the coronavirus pandemic.
Stylistically the match-up brings about a real test for the boxing icon Lomachenko, but he has overcome immense obstacles in his past in Linares and Campbell and will no doubt be many expert's favourite to prevail once again using his enormous experience and aggression to reach the pinnacle of his career in this division.
However 'El Brooklyn' is one of the most sensational young talents on the map, and with his powerful shots and ability to unsettle even the strongest of defensive guards, could provide us with an aesthetic feast of explosive exchanges and technique on Saturday night and will come back stronger even in defeat without any doubt in his camp's mind.
PREDICTION: LOMACHENKO TO WIN BY UNANIMOUS DECISION