FLEMINGTON, New Jersey – Teofimo Lopez can’t envision this version of Vasiliy Lomachenko being able to defeat Devin Haney.

Lopez didn’t see the same fighter he upset in October 2020 when he watched Lomachenko overcome a slow start to out-point Jamaine Ortiz on October 29 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. That is primarily why the former lightweight champion predicted that the unbeaten Haney would retain his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships if he defends those titles against Lomachenko next, as expected.

“It’s gonna be a competitive fight no matter what,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “But the reason why I think Haney wins is you could see Loma is not the same Lomachenko, first and foremost. He’s not the same guy that I faced in 2020. He has a lot of wear and tear on him. And we don’t know how much work they were putting him through while he was defending his country over in Ukraine.

“We don’t really know much info, but I think it showed he needs some rest in order to get this fight going. Devin seems more interested in fighting me than Loma right now, but I think the best opportunity for him at 135 at this point would be to fight Lomachenko. Depending on how he beats Lomachenko, it builds our fight even more.”

Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) first must get past Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) in the Brooklyn native’s second fight as a full-fledged junior welterweight Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. ESPN will televise their 10-round, 140-pound WBC elimination match as the main event of a four-bout broadcast set to start at 9 p.m. ET.

The 25-year-old Lopez hopes he and Haney finally fight in the 140-pound division, once Haney moves up from the lightweight limit of 135 pounds to the weight class Lopez entered earlier this year. Lopez is confident he would present problems for Haney that the 34-year-old Lomachenko can’t pose, but he will watch with interest if two of his rivals square off next.

“I believe that Lomachenko is gonna cap on Devin Haney,” Lopez said. “However, we just have to see what Devin Haney does. He’s very good with his jab and he’s very good at keeping his distance. Lomachenko has a very hard time with people who do that. Hopefully, we see this matchup next year and we see the best fighters fight the best.”

The 24-year-old Haney (29-0, 15 KOs), of Henderson, Nevada, and Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) both have indicated publicly that they want to face one another early in 2023. Bob Arum – whose company, Top Rank Inc., promotes Haney and Lomachenko – told BoxingScene.com recently that Haney-Lomachenko could be scheduled for some point either late in February or early in March.

“Let’s see if Devin Haney is willing to make the fight happen,” Lopez said. “I know Loma is. I know Lomachenko will even take less [money]. I know that because I know he’s hungry for those belts.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.