Teofimo Lopez is convinced his closely contested fight with Sandor Martin was an anomaly.
The 140-pound contender and former unified lightweight champion from Brooklyn, New York, thinks he will start displaying a far more dominant version of himself when he goes up against the top contenders and champions in his new weight class.
Lopez had a somewhat frustrating time against the cagey Spaniard during their 10-round junior welterweight main event earlier this month at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In a mostly uneventful fight—save for a flash knockdown that Lopez suffered in the second round—Martin, a southpaw spoiler, rarely tried to engage, while Lopez had trouble closing the gap. Martin made a name for himself last year when he retired multi-division champion Mikey Garcia with a 10-round majority decision.
One judge had it for Martin (94-95), but he was overruled by two others, including judge Pasquale Procopio, who had it uncomfortably wide for Lopez, 97-92. In the postfight interview, Lopez castigated Martin for “running.” Lopez made headlines after the Martin fight because an ESPN mic picked up the fighter questioning himself to his handlers, saying, “Do I still got it?”
In a follow-up interview that streamed last week on ESPN+’s The State of Boxing, Lopez, who lives in Las Vegas, was asked by Bernardo Osuna to comment on his somewhat underwhelming performance against Martin, especially given his former lofty stature in the sport. Most observers believe Lopez has not looked the same since his signature win over Vasiliy Lomachenko for three lightweight belts in 2020. The following year Lopez dropped a decision to George Kambosos Jr. in what was one of the more surprising upsets in recent memory.
Lopez, 25, feels his performance against Martin was a one-off and is more than ready to put it behind him. Indeed, he said he expects to become a world champion at 140 next year.
“When you face a fighter that didn’t come to fight, all he did was just run,” Lopez said of Martin. “Anytime he got anywhere into a corner, all he did was dip under and grab. So the whole thing was, like, it is such a difficult competitive fight at the moment because the guy is not here to try to win. He’s not trying to.
“All he’s trying to do is survive in there and try not to get knocked out. People are going to speak on whatever they want to speak on. I’m fighting for a world title next. I’m trying to come back in April and have three fights next year. So, I look forward to becoming a unified world champion by the end of [next] year at 140.”
Co-host and ESPN commentator Timothy Bradley, the retired two-division Hall of Famer, then asked Lopez bluntly what makes him think he can beat the top junior welterweights in the division, such as WBC titlist Regis Prograis and WBO titlist Josh Taylor. Lopez answered by touting his skillset and pointing out that he believes that, unlike Martin, the likes of Prograis and Taylor will at least try to engage in a fight. And that sort of style, Lopez said, will tend to work out in his favor.
“[I’ve got] everything,” Lopez said. “I’m too fast, too smart and too sharp. I am. These guys at least are going to come to fight. Get me a fight. You guys don’t understand how we actually work here, and that’s OK. You guys have not seen the best version of Teofimo. You guys think you know everything but you don’t. I’ve been with the great fighters and everything. I know what to do with southpaws. I know what to do with a lot of these fighters.
“Guys like that that run? It’s going to be a difficult fight for anybody because guy’s just waiting for you to throw a punch. Y’know what I’m sayin’? A lot of these other fights, the Taylors, the Regises, at least they coming to fight. All these other champions right now in that division, at least they coming to fight. They’re coming to defend their belt, right? That’s their job, so at least with that you’re going to see a bigger difference.
“Every person that has tried to come and fight me have all been hurt and dropped. Each person. Anyone that boxes us we find different ways to beat them, absolutely. What Sandor Martin did was not boxing either. All he did was run.”
Bradley, who was critical of Lopez’s performance throughout the broadcast of the Martin fight, did not shy away from his initial comments in the follow-up interview and tried to offer Lopez some constructive criticism. Lopez, however, did not seem much interested in heeding Bradley’s points.
“This is a good move (coming on this show to be interviewed) here for me, because guys like you are just gonna be shown (that you’re wrong), little by little,” Lopez said. “You know? Now the whole thing is like, this is my hands. I have destiny here. Anybody don’t know how we work. They don’t know how we train. I know how it is. These guys have been in the division too long already. Their bodies are worn out. I’ve seen it in their fights. I can’t wait to expose it.”