Lomachenko faces unbeaten Lopez to unify lightweight titles

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko and unbeaten American Teofimo Lopez fight tonight in Las Vegas to unify major world lightweight boxing titles and decide which merits consideration as a world pound-for-pound best.

Lomachenko, 14-1 with 10 knockouts, comes off a unanimous decision victory over English southpaw Luke Campbell last August in London to keep the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) crowns.

Lopez, nine years younger than his rival at age 23, is a New York-born son of Honduran immigrants who captured the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title by stopping Ghana’s Richard Commey in the second round last December at Madison Square Garden, improving to 15-0 with 12 wins inside the distance.

The winner establishes himself as the top fighter in the 135-pound division and makes a case for a spot among the world’s finest boxers, with Lopez hoping to topple a star that has been winning world crowns since 2014.

“I will beat up Lomachenko and take his belts. Simple as that,” Lopez said.

“I don’t like the guy and I’m going to have fun as Lomachenko’s face is beaten and marked up by my hands.

File photo shows Vasiliy Lomachenko punching Guillermo Rigondeaux during their WBO Junior Lightweight title bout at Madison Square Garden in 2017. PHOTO: AFP

“The takeover is here and the reign of Lomachenko, the little diva, is coming to an end.”

Lomachenko, defending for the fourth time the title he took from Venezuelan Jorge Linares in 2018, shrugged off the tough talk and he looks forward to ending the longest layoff of his career.

“Teofimo Lopez can talk all he wants,” Lomachenko said. “He’s very good at talking. He has done nothing but say my name for the past two years.

“I am a fighter and my goal is to win another world title. He will eat my punches and his words.”

Lomachenko, an Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012, is fancied by oddsmakers in a bout to be staged at an empty MGM Grand arena, spectators banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lopez has not lost since his last amateur bout at the 2016 Rio Olympics.