Boxing really is a sport like no other. In December 2019, Teofimo Lopez blasted out Richard Commey in two rounds to claim IBF Lightweight gold at Madison Square Garden, inflicting a first knockout defeat of his career.
Almost 14 months later, Lopez now unified WBA ‘Super’, WBO, IBF and WBC Franchise champion was vocal in his support for his former foe ringside at the MGM Grand Conference Center, Las Vegas on Saturday night and after Commey blew away Jackson Marinez in six rounds, the Brooklynite was visibly elated.
‘The Takeover’ embraced with his Top Rank stablemate in his dressing room prior to the bout, labelling the Ghanian, the “real champion” and the 33-year-old bounced back in style, taking Marinez out with a devastating right hand, producing a stark reminder of his clubbing power which has secured him 27 KOs from 30 fights.
Prior to the clash, Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) was rated at #13 by the IBF, #6 by the WBC and having beaten Marinez is likely to enter the WBA rankings, where the Dominican was rated at #6.
“We still believe Richard Commey can be champion again and I know Richard believes he can be champion again,” promoter Lou Di Bella told the media pre-fight.
Whilst an immediate title shot would appear unlikely with Lopez set to defend his titles against mandatory challenger, George Kambosos Jr and WBC champion, Devin Haney reportedly in talks to face Jorge Linares, ‘RC’ is likely to require one or two eliminators before launching another world title tilt.
Lopez has already set his sights on moving up to 140lbs to face the winner of the proposed undisputed fight between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, looking likely for May in Las Vegas, meaning the belts would become vacant.
View this post on Instagram
But, after a timely victory on his return to the ring, here are some options which could further elevate his position back to the top of arguably the most exciting division in the sport:
Robert Easter Jr
Following a thrilling showdown in 2016, a rematch between Commey and Robert Easter Jr would certainly be appealing.
The pair shared a toe-to-toe battle for the vacant IBF crown, with Easter Jr (22-1-1, 14 KOs) prevailing on a split decision.
The 30-year-old was relieved of his belt in a unification with four-division titlist, Mikey Garcia in 2018 and looks to register his second victory since that reverse when he tackles Ryan Martin on the undercard of Adrien Broner’s return against Jovanie Santiago in Connecticut on Saturday.
With the American ranked #5 by the WBA and should Commey take Marinez’s sixth spot, then it would seem a natural fight to make between two of the best in a stacked pool of talent at 135lbs and would edge the victor to a second world title opportunity.
There have been calls for a second meeting since the first bout ended and a rematch would likely draw substantial interest in a battle of former word champions.
Lee Selby will be looking to bounce back this year after a split decision defeat to Kambosos Jr in October.
Victory for the Welshman would have put him in position to face Lopez and the former IBF Featherweight holder still has ambitions of becoming a two-weight world champion.
The 34-year-old former Featherweight world champion has dropped down to #4 in the IBF rankings and is only one or two wins himself from regaining a number one spot and a clash with Commey would be marketable, considering the pair’s profiles.
Selby (28-3, 9 KOs) is a slick, elusive and accurate boxer and would provide a style clash to the big-punching Ghanian.
Would Commey’s power prove too much? or would Selby be too evasive?
James Tennyson (28-3, 24 KOs) has been one of Britain’s breakthrough fighters in recent years and has established himself as one of the hardest hitting men on the scene.
The 27-year-old has been in red-hot form since moving up to 135lbs, following a fifth round defeat to Tevin Farmer in an unsuccessful bid for the IBF Super Featherweight title in 2018.
‘The Assassin’ has lived up to his alias with six straight wins by stoppage, including a first round demolition of Josh O’Reilly in December.
Tennyson’s promoter Eddie Hearn named Jorge Linares as an option, although the Venezuelan is also reportedly a target for Haney.
The Northern Ireland man is rated #6 by the WBO, a sanctioning body ‘RC’ is not currently ranked by and arguably requires an acid test against an experienced operator, who has campaigned at the world level, a bill that Commey fits.
24 of Tennyson’s 28 victories have come by knockout and a meeting would pit two of the hardest punchers together, in a fight which could only deliver and likely be over inside the distance.
Rolando Romero (13-0, 11 KOs) put in a welcome display and did not allow a last-minute change of opponent to interrupt his plans, as he overcome Avery Sparrow with a seventh round stoppage in January.
The WBA Interim champion secured a controversial decision win over Marinez last August, whilst Commey took care of business in comprehensive fashion, giving a potential fight a back story.
‘Rolly’ is hunting a shot against WBA ‘Regular’ champion, Gervonta Davis his promotional stablemate at Mayweather Promotions and it remains to be seen whether Floyd Mayweather Jr would match his two fighters against each other.
A victory for the undefeated 25-year-old over an accomplished fighter like Commey would answer any lingering doubts and critics over his ability and catapult his name into the conversation.
For ‘RC’ a win would place elevate him to a shot at the world title far quicker than if he were to fight one of the above names and would undoubtedly take confidence from his victory over Marinez compared to that of the American’s.
An all-Ghanian clash between Commey and Emmanuel Tagoe has long been mooted and 2021 could be the perfect time to make it.
Tagoe (32-1, 15 KOs) has built his record impressively since losing his opening professional bout and has manoeuvred himself into top 10 rankings in three of the four governing bodies, with a particularly high rating of #4 by the WBO.
The 32-year-old saw off Mason Menard, former opponent of both Lopez and Haney by majority decision in November.
A showdown between the compatriots would appear to be relatively straightforward to make with both signed with Lou Di Bella and would generate large interest in the USA and of course in their native Ghana with Commey likely to start as favourite.
A fight in Ghana between two of the highest rated fighters in the world, could be a pivotal moment for African boxing in driving more fans to the sport, although a meeting with a world title on the line would hold even greater significance if possible to make.