Teofimo Lopez promises a “takeover” while Vasiliy Lomachenko plays it cool

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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WBA and WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko 14-1 (10) kept a sharp eye on IBF counterpart Teofimo ‘El Brooklyn’ Lopez 15-0 (12) at the final media conference ahead of their blockbuster clash at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.

The 32-year-old Ukrainian southpaw, dressed in a camouflage Supreme t-shirt, sat upright in his chair and never shifted his gaze from the young upstart as Lopez repeatedly claimed it was time for “the takeover”.

“Hard work pays off. Eighteen years in and it’s just the beginning. You haven’t seen anything yet,” the 23-year-old Lopez said, leaning back in his chair in a Mickey Mouse sweater.

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“The Takeover is not just a phrase we throw out there. This is the part where I’m leading the new generation. Winning this is a stamp and a mark to put on for the new era.

“Get your popcorn ready and just enjoy the show. It’s ‘The Takeover’.

The fight is a big step up for Lopez, who stopped Richard Commey in impressive fashion in two rounds at Madison Square Garden last December in his lone world title fight to date.

By contrast, 14 of 15 of Lomachenko’s professional bouts have been world title fights.

But Lopez insists his lack of experience at the top level will not be an issue.

“A true champion can adapt to everything. It goes for both of us. He fought in arenas sold out. I fought in arenas sold out. My job and my thing are having all of these belts wrapped around me,” he said.

Lomachenko is coming off the longest layoff of his career. He hasn’t fought since his 12-round unanimous decision win over Luke Campbell in London in August last year.

“I won’t know [how the layoff will impact me] until Saturday night. I have never been out of the ring for one full year like this. Ever. I don’t know how it will be,” said Lomachenko, who went 396-1 in the amateur ranks.

“I think it’s just a ring and judges and TV. That’s it. And, of course, four belts.

“I’m thinking only about my future fight and the fight on Saturday. That’s it.

“For me, I think it will be a chess match.”

The Lopez camp has spent much of the lead-up to the fight engaged in smack-talk, but it’s been largely a one-sided thing.

Lomachenko however could help but have a cheeky dig of his own at Lopez.

“I don´t think about it being personal, I don´t have a problem with his family and this boy,” Lomachenko said.

“But we can check what´s better to prove things, in the ring or outside the ring.”

Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank admitted he would have preferred the fight to take place with a live audience.

“It would probably be a big pay-per-view with 20,000 in the stands,” he said. “But the coronavirus has upset a lot of business and people are dying. We´ve got to be thankful for what we have.

“We think it´s a fascinating fight. Lomachenko is a great machine, a technical genius with the way he does distance and footwork. Yet he´s in with a guy who´s very athletic and is skilled beyond his years as far as boxing knowledge goes.”

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