NEW YORK – Teofimo Lopez got his harshest helping of backlash from fickle fight fans following his last win.
Lopez, previously praised for several superb performances and spectacular knockouts, drew some criticism for how he defeated Masayoshi Nakatani. The Japanese contender ended Lopez’s five-fight knockout streak, but Lopez produced a thorough victory on all three scorecards while going 12 rounds for the first time in his three-year pro career July 19 in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
The 22-year-old Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) was hard on himself after beating Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs) by scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 118-110. He still took notice of how his performance was picked apart by his critics, which drove him throughout training camp for his shot at IBF lightweight champ Richard Commey on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I love when people talk sh-t and they underestimate me, because it gives me that chip on my shoulder,” Lopez told BoxingScene.com. “I talk my sh-t, but I know this time around, I’m out there and I’ll do what I really have to do. My thing is that I’m all about vengeance. When people have this way of saying things about me, I hold that. And that’s my motivation right there, to shut people up. You can’t shut everybody up, but I know I can prove to myself that I am the best. Come December 14th, I’m gonna show that.”
Brooklyn’ Lopez, the mandatory challenger for Commey’s crown, is slightly favored to win his first world title against Ghana’s Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) in a 12-round, 135-pound encounter ESPN will air before Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) defends his WBO welterweight title versus mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs) in the main event.
While Lopez’s skeptics have motivated him, nothing Commey has said has bothered him.
“He hasn’t said anything,” Lopez said. “He’s said he’s gonna knock me out and things like that. But obviously, I’m there to go take his bread and butter, and he’s there to take mine. You know, we’re both fighters, man. We’re both competitive fighters. He wants to fight the best. I wanna fight the best. And we’re fighting each other because we are the best in the division. We’re the top guys in the 135-pound division, with guys like Lomachenko and whoever else is up there – Tank Davis and such.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.