Lopez unifies lightweight division after upstaging Lomachenko

By Sports Desk October 18, 2020

Teofimo Lopez Jr. dethroned Vasyl Lomachenko as he became the unified lightweight champion by unanimous decision in Las Vegas.

All eyes were on the MGM Grand, where Lomachenko put his WBA, WBO and WBC belts on the line in the blockbuster unification bout against IBF holder Lopez.

Lopez (16-0) emerged victorious over 12 rounds on Saturday, the 23-year-old completing an upset against pound-for-pound Ukrainian star as he unified the lightweight division inside the Las Vegas bubble.

The judges scored the fight 116-112, 119-109 and 117-113 in favour of unbeaten American Lopez, who snapped Lomachenko's (14-2) 13-fight winning streak after withstanding a late flurry to become the youngest four-belt champion since the WBO was founded in 1988.

"I'm a fighter," said Lopez afterwards. "I gotta dig in deep. I knew he was coming. I didn't know if they had him up on the scorecards or not, and I love to fight.

"I can bang, too. I don't care, man. I'll take one to give one. That's what a true champion does. I find a way to win."

It was a clash to decide the number one lightweight and a showdown between two fighters at contrasting stages of their careers.

Lomachenko had the pedigree heading into the bout, stemming back to a glittering amateur career that included two Olympic gold medals, through to winning world titles in three different divisions in the paid ranks. 

Lopez, meanwhile, had long been talked about as boxing's next big star, long before brutally taking the IBF title from Richard Commey inside two rounds last December.

Lomachenko was slow out of the blocks as Lopez took control of the first half of the fight, outworking the 32-year-old with his speed and pinpoint accuracy.

Out of sorts, Lomachenko – back in action following a 14-month layoff – eventually came into the fight in the eighth round but by that time, the damage had already been done.

Sensing he was behind, Lomachenko ramped up the pressure with a late rally in the championship rounds, however, Lopez landed significant shots to halt his opponent and become the new lightweight king.

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    Usyk - already sitting as the mandatory challenger to WBO champion Anthony Joshua - built his reputation in the pro game at cruiserweight, becoming the undisputed champion in the division. He has fought just once since opting to step up in weight, recording a seventh-round stoppage against Chazz Witherspoon over a year ago. 

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    The pair have already provided entertainment with their online interactions and pre-fight meetings - now expect fireworks when it gets down to the serious business.

    RECENT HISTORY

    Usyk has an unblemished 17-fight record in the pros following a distinguished amateur career.

    Tony Bellew promised to "get the monster" when he fought Usyk at cruiserweight in November 2018. Instead, he was stopped in the eighth, joining a notable list of names in the division to lose to the 33-year-old that also Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis and Marco Huck. 

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    TALE OF THE TAPE

    OLEKSANDR USYK

    Age: 33
    Height: 6ft 3ins (187cm)
    Weight: 15st 7lbs (220 pounds)
    Reach: 78ins 
    Professional record: 17-0 (13 KOs)
    Major career titles: IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO cruiserweight

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    Age: 36
    Height: 6ft 1½ins (187cm)
    Weight: 18st 3lbs (256 pounds)
    Reach: 74ins 
    Professional record: 32-9 (23 KOs)
    Major career titles: British, Commonwealth heavyweight

    THE UNDERCARD

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    Popular heavyweight David Allen was due to be in action on the bill, only for a fight with Christopher Lovejoy to be called off at the last minute. Originally, Christian Hammer had been due to be Allen's opponent, but he was forced to withdraw due to COVID-19.

    WHAT THE FIGHTERS HAVE TO SAY...

    Usyk on moving to the heavyweight division: "If the king of animals would be considered according to the size, then it would be elephant, not the lion. An elephant is a friend of the mouse!"

    Chisora on the task he faces: "I need a fair referee. I want this fight to be fair. I don't want to be dancing or wrestling. I want both of us to work fairly. I have to keep marching forwards. He will try to wrong-foot me but I'm ready."

    David Haye, Chisora's promoter: "It will get very rough, very fast. Will Usyk drown in the Heavyweight waters? Chisora can absorb a disgusting amount of punishment. How deep can Usyk soul-search? How much does he want it? Things come easier to Usyk. I see Chisora causing one of the biggest upsets on British soil ever."

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    "Our plan is: A) beat Derek Chisora, B) push AJ to comply with WBO rules or vacate the title, C) defeat AJ or any other WBO champion or contender and become the heavyweight champion. Simple and practical," he said.

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