Teofimo Lopez wants the world to know that his recent public show of self-doubt was all a front.

As for what, exactly, remains unclear.

Earlier this month, the former unified lightweight champion and current 140-pound contender picked up a hard-fought split decision win over Spain’s Sandor Martin at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was a competitive, if ungainly, fight, and Lopez, who was considered a driving force at lightweight, was far from dominant; he even got dropped in the second round. Many observers, moreover, believed judge Pascale Procopio turned in an egregious scorecard (97-92) by giving Lopez eight of 10 rounds. (Judge Max De Luca had it 96-93 for Lopez, while Guido Cavalleri had Martin winning 95-94). In the post-fight interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, Lopez blamed Martin for “running” and spoiling the fun for the fans.

Yet after the formal interview, an ESPN camera mic caught a distraught-looking Lopez questioning his performance. “Bro, do I still have it, man?” Lopez asked members of his team. “Do I still got it?”

It was a shocking show of vulnerability, given the general steely nature of prizefighters and because such moments rarely become public.

But it was all wrongly interpreted, apparently.

In a follow-up interview a few days later on an episode of the State of Boxing on ESPN+, Osuna asked Lopez to clarify his “hot mic” comments, and his response was, in its own way, surprising as well.

According to Lopez, who lives in Las Vegas, his brief display of self-doubt was simply a “strategic move.”

“My whole thing is just always staying in the loop of things,” Lopez said. “When it came to you guys with the camera and everything, I mean know what a red dot [signal that the camera is recording] looks like, guys. It was just a strategic move. I know I’ve got everything in me to win. That’s why we call it ‘The Takeover.’ My whole thing wasn’t even about that. It was just a strategic move. People still talk about Teofimo Lopez, which they’ve been doing.”

Lopez, 25, has seen his stock drop ever since he was upset by George Kambosos Jr. via points last year at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. It was a whiplash moment for Lopez, who, only in the fight previous to that, became the IBF, WBA, and WBO lightweight champion by defeating kingpin Vasiliy Lomachenko via unanimous decision. After the loss to Kambosos, Lopez decided to move up to 140 pounds. He made his debut at the weight in August against Pedro Campa, stopping him in seven rounds.

When asked to evaluate his performance against the southpaw Martin, Lopez said he was mostly satisfied with it, saying that the Spaniard had a knack for “holding on.”

“The only thing that I didn’t do precisely was the fact that I didn’t listen to my coach on a specific move that we’ve been working on in the gym,” Lopez said. “That’s my fault. That’s my mistake.  

“Other than that, everything else has been going well. I did exactly what I was supposed to do in the ring. Just, every time we really wanted to throw a lot of combinations, this guy just found a way to, I guess with the experience, hold on. We’re just working on more things now.”