A newly crowned, 25-year-old world champion coming off the second-biggest win of his career has decided against retirement in favor of keeping his title.
About a month after insisting that he would retire following his upset of previously undefeated Josh Taylor, Teofimo Lopez informed the WBO on Wednesday night that he will keep its junior welterweight title and proceed with his career. Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, the longtime president of the WBO, announced Lopez’s decision through his Twitter account.
“The game is over,” Valcarcel wrote. “@TeofimoLopez just informed me in writing that he will retain his @WorldBoxingOrg jr welterweight title.”
Had Lopez relinquished his title, the WBO was prepared to order a bout between former WBC/WBO champ Jose Ramirez and Arnold Barboza Jr. for its vacant 140-pound championship.
Barboza (28-0, 10 KOs), of South El Monte, California, is the WBO’s number one contender in the 140-pound division. Ramirez (28-1, 18 KOs), of Avenal, California, is ranked second among the WBO’s junior welterweight contenders.
The Brooklyn-born Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) rejuvenated his career by soundly defeating Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs) in their 12-round fight for Taylor’s WBO belt June 10 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Taylor was almost a 2-1 favorite according to most sportsbooks, but Lopez’s speed, skill, power and athleticism enabled him to beat the Scottish southpaw on the scorecards of judges of Steve Gray (115-113), Joe Pasquale (115-113) and Benoit Roussel (117-111).
It isn’t clear who Lopez will fight next. The former unified lightweight champion was the mandatory challenger for Taylor’s title and could make an optional defense of his WBO belt later this year.
The WBO denied Devin Haney’s request Wednesday for an additional 24 hours to decide whether the IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champion will move up to the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds for his next fight. If Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) moves up in weight to challenge Lopez, a longtime rival, it would be the biggest bout that could be made in the junior welterweight division at this time.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.