In one of the most anticipated contests of 2020, it was Teofimo Lopez who sensationally walked away with all the Lightweight gold inside The Bubble at MGM Grand, Las Vegas with a masterful unanimous decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko, who started way too slowly, and it cost him dearly on Saturday.
Lopez added the WBC Franchise, WBA (Super), WBO and Ring Magazine belts to the IBF crown he won in his last fight against Richard Comney at the end of 2019.
Lomachenko looked in focused mood ahead of the opening bell, and he allowed Lopez to throw out his jab in the early going, while he studied his man.
It was understandably tense stuff in the first round, with Lopez possibly shading it with sporadic success, as the Ukrainian elected to see what his opponent had to offer.
Lopez was mixing his attacks up well, and landed well to the body in the second, but the Ukrainian finally opened up with two decent left hands in the final minute of the round, and in the dying embers, he landed a three punch combination to state his intent.
The Brooklyn man landed a hard left to the body in the third, but Lomachenko responded with another combination later in the session, as the contest started to warm up.
It was safety first stuff from ‘Loma,’ as he tried to negotiate the first half of the fight to diffuse Lopez’s power, and he began to close the distance, although Lopez was the aggressor, and there was a strong argument for him claiming the first four rounds with his superior work rate.
Lopez got the better of the fifth too, landing a couple of right hands, but, Lomachenko got his jab going in round six, as he gradually stepped up his output.
A lot of the punches from the underdog were landing on the gloves, but the sheer volume of the punches were banking him round after round to the delight of his vocal father and trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr, as his success continued into the second half.
Lomachenko landed a solid right to begin the eighth, and the heads came together as the 32-year-old began to sense the urgency.
Lomachenko was belatedly letting his hands go, while also still having to take some meaty Lopez shots, but it was a much better round for the decorated three-weight world champion.
He continued his resurgence in the ninth, with several combinations pushing Lopez back.
Lomachenko was now countering strongly, and his accuracy was razor-sharp, as he pushed forward and went on the attack, although he had to take a Lopez body shot along the way in the tenth.
It looked another Lomachenko round in the eleventh too, backing the 23-year-old up with heavy body shots, and going through his repertoire of punches, with Lopez still having success of his own.
There was all to play for ahead of the final round, and Lopez sensed this as he mounted one last effort, having his best round in some time.
In the dying moments, an accidental clash of heads caused a large cut above Lopez’s left eye, but with seconds remaining, the two opened up to close an absorbing contest.
The first half of the bout ultimately cost Lomachenko, as Tim Cheetham scored 116-112, Julie Lederman tallied a way too wide 119-109, and Steve Weisfeld saw it 117-111 to hand ‘Loma’ his second career loss, and crown the 23 year old the unified champion.
“I had to dig deep. It feels good,” said Lopez post-fight to ESPN.
“I’m a fighter, I knew he was coming, but I love to fight and I can bang too.
“You have to keep putting the gas on him, I stopped his momentum. I can take it to 140, or take on Devin Haney, the takeover has begun”.
In a great appetiser to the main course, Arnold Barboza Jr claimed the vacant WBO International Super Lightweight title in an all-action, entertaining ten rounder with former world title challenger, Alex Saucedo.
Barboza had a knockdown counted against him in the seventh round, after a right hand landed when the two became tangled.
The knockdown wasn’t counted at the time, but the replay officials overruled that decision at the end of the session.
Barboza landed the more telling punches for the majority of the fight as a lot of leather was traded, with Saucedo’s defence leaky to put it mildly, and the 28-year-old pulled away in the final few rounds.
Two scores of 97-92, and a third at 96-93 extended Barboza’s unbeaten record to 25-0, while Saucedo fell to 30-2.
Edgar Berlanga made it fifteen straight first round knockouts, and moved to 15-0, with yet another opening session success, this time against Lannell Bellows, who had never previously been stopped.
The Puerto Rican-New York residing Super Middleweight wrecking ball launched a vicious assault, with chopping lefts and rights finding the target, and with Bellows tottering all over the ring, the referee stopped him on his feet.
Josue Vargas took a unanimous decision win over Kendo Castaneda in their Welterweight ten rounder.
Vargas dropped Castaneda with a well-timed counter left hook in the second round, before going on to secure the win on the cards by scores of 100-89, 99-90 and 98-91.
Featherweight: Jose Enrique Vargas TKO1 John Vincent Moralde
Welterweight: Quinton Randall PTS6 Jan Carlos Rivera
Welterweight: Jahi Tucker PTS4 Charles Garner