Admittedly, Teofimo Lopez believes that he spent far too much time competing at 135 pounds. After snagging the WBA, WBO, and WBC “Franchise” titles from Vasiliy Lomachenko, the brash 25-year-old concludes that he simply should have opted to walk away from the lightweight division.
However, the allure of defending his unified throne was simply too great to pass up on. So, at the tail end of 2021, Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) placed his newly won trinkets on the line against George Kambosos Jr. Though he was viewed as an innocuous challenger, the Australian native rose to the occasion, becoming the first man to sully the record of the loquacious American.
Since then, Lopez has dusted himself off and moved forward with his career. With a much-needed jumpstart, Lopez decided to abandon the lightweight division and officially made the trek five pounds north. In his first bout against bigger men, Lopez made it look relatively easy against Pedro Campa, stopping the fringe contender in the seventh round on August 13th.
Next up for the 25-year-old will be a showdown against the surging Sandor Martin on December 10th. Initially, nevertheless, Lopez was slated to take on Jose Pedraza before the former multi-divisional champion was forced to withdraw due to flu-like symptoms.
While the sudden change in opponent isn't exactly ideal, on the outside looking in, it would appear as though the 29-year-old Spaniard could present Lopez with a bevy of issues.
In October of 2021, the unheralded contender sauntered into his matchup against Mikey Garcia as a sizable underdog. But, despite the odds being stacked against him, Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) registered the biggest win of his career. Still, even with Martin bursting onto the scene and regardless of Pedraza aggregating an unimpressive run consisting of 0-1-1, Lopez is firmly of the belief that the Puerto Rican star was much more equipped to deal with what he’ll bring to the table on Saturday night.
“We’re excited that we have Sandor Martin,” said Lopez during an interview with BoxingScene.com. “I felt like Pedraza was going to give me more of a difficult run for my money. Obviously, he (Martin) defeated and beat arguably one of the best Mexican fighters of this era, Mikey Garcia but Pedraza is like a sniper. He alternates, he switches from southpaw to orthodox. He can go off his back foot and throw a punch. Those styles alone could bring a little problem to a fighter.”
Despite singing his praises, Pedraza has seen better days. To kick off a difficult year, the former champion suffered a close but clear unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Jose Ramirez. Additionally, Pedraza would fight listlessly against Richard Commey before being forced to settle for a split decision draw.
As the 140-pound mainstay continues in his recovery process, Lopez acknowledges that his upcoming bout against Martin is somewhat of a proving ground. While he violently ended the night of Campa in his super lightweight debut, Lopez deduces that a one-sided beating against Martin will allow the rest of the boxing world to view him as a bonafide contender in his new weight class.
“It’s a great matchup. This is going to show everyone where I’m at in the 140 division.”