Teofimo Lopez is not averse to the idea of taking at least one more non-title fight in pursuit of his goal to become a two-division champion.
The idea of next facing unbeaten contenders Ryan Garcia or Arnold Barboza—or perhaps both—is the most realistic option amidst a largely unrealistic immediate future that includes a straightaway shot at the 140-pound crown.
“If Josh Taylor is too busy with his wedding, and there’s nobody else around because the WBA belt is taken and the WBC is gonna be fought between [top contender Jose] Zepeda and [former WBA champ Regis] Prograis, then so fuckin’ be it,” Lopez said about facing any other contender after his ESPN-televised stoppage win over Pedro Campa. “I’ll take all those boys and take all their dreams away. I’m here to be their nightmare.”
Lopez (17-1, 13KOs) entered fight week with hopes of next facing Taylor, Zepeda or Prograis, though also acknowledging the difficulty in any of the three being available.
Regardless, the focus was returning to the win column following his lineal and unified lightweight championship reign ending in a split decision loss to George Kambosos last November in New York City. Lopez did just that, dropping and eventually stopping Mexico’s Campa (34-2-1, 23KOs) in the seventh round of their ESPN-televised main event from Resorts World Casino in Las Vegas.
Post-fight talk immediately focused on his quest to win a second divisional championship. However, all four major titles are already spoken for, beginning at the top of the heap.
Lineal/IBF/WBO champ Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) is eyeing a rematch with former title challenger Jack Catterall but also on the clock to decide whether to honor an ordered title defense with IBF mandatory Jeremias Ponce. Taylor found himself stuck at that point even after vacating the WBA title, which is at stake between Alberto Puello (20-0, 10KOs) and Batyr Akhmedov (9-1, 8KOs) this weekend on Showtime.
Jose Zepeda and Regis Prograis—both of whom are on Lopez’s hit list—are currently in talks to vie for the WBC title that Taylor relinquished in July, in lieu of facing Zepeda in a mandatory title defense.
That leaves fighters such as Lopez and Barboza (27-0, 10KOs) on the outside looking in, less for Garcia (23-0, 19KOs) who can return to lightweight. Garcia is hopeful of next facing Lopez at junior welterweight—where the Californian has fought in each of his last two wins—or Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (27-0, 25KOs) in a blockbuster showdown that would have to take place at 135 with Davis’ secondary WBA lightweight title at stake.
Oscar De La Hoya, Garcia’s promoter, was ringside for Saturday’s fight in accepting an invitation from Lopez. The Hall of Fame former six-division champ is prepared to immediately negotiate such a fight, while Barboza—who was also ringside and seated next to De La Hoya and his wife—fights under the Top Rank banner and whose manager Rick Mirigian has spent all year and beyond actively campaigning for such a fight.
With plans to return in December, Lopez will need a sellable opponent regardless of the stakes.
“I’m ready to eat all these boys,” claimed Lopez. “They all man-made. Teofimo is self-made. They can never make another one.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox