Is Teofimo Lopez Jr. the real deal? That was the key question for the 2018 ESPN prospect of the year going into his shot at lightweight world titleholder Richard Commey, who was by far his most significant opponent, on Saturday night.
The answer: A resounding yes.
Lopez is for real.
He annihilated Commey in the second round to take Commey’s IBF lightweight world title in emphatic fashion in the Terence Crawford-Egidijus Kavaliauskas co-feature at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true,” Lopez said. “[Commey] is a bad man. His shot could’ve done the same to me if he hit me with that shot.”
Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) had previously suffered only two highly competitive decision losses — to Robert Easter Jr. in a world title bout and to contender Denis Shafikov. He had never been overwhelmed before, until facing Lopez.
Commey, 32, a Ghana native fighting out of New York who was making his second defense, looked good in the opening round, touching Lopez with a couple of right hands. But then Lopez destroyed him in the second.
Lopez wobbled Commey with a left hook, then floored him seconds later with a right hand on the chin. Commey was unsteady when the fight continued, and Lopez stormed after him. Lopez landed numerous right-left combinations and had Commey in all sorts of trouble and backed into the ropes.
As Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), 22, of Brooklyn, New York, who represented his parents’ native Honduras in the 2016 Olympics, continued to blast away, Commey was helpless. Referee David Fields finally stepped in and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 13 seconds of the second round.
Lopez, as he always does, celebrated with a backflip. Then, as he did when he fought on Heisman Trophy night in 2018, Lopez struck the Heisman pose in the ring while wearing newly crowned Heisman winner Joe Burrow‘s LSU jersey.
“The kid has dynamite in his hands,” said Lou DiBella, Commey’s promoter. “I knew that was possible. Richard got caught with dynamite. He’s a very athletic puncher. His offense is so dangerous I don’t think he’s out of it against [Vasiliy] Lomachenko. The kid’s gonna get better. He’s a dangerous little f—er.”
Pound-for-pound king and unified lightweight champion Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), 31, of Ukraine, was seated ringside to scout the fight, because the plan called for him to fight the victor — Lopez — to further unify the 135-pound title in the spring.
“We want to unificate four titles,” Lomachenko, who holds two of the major 135-pound belts, said of Lopez. “Now he’s a world champion, and now he’s in position to fight me.”
Lopez and his father, trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr., have been very vocal calling Lomachenko out, and now it looks like they will get the chance.
“You all know who I want to fight next — 2020 is going to be a big year. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you haven’t seen anything yet,” Lopez said.