Former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. has some explaining to do. That’s why Saturday’s comeback after his first professional loss and nine months of tumult outside the ring created a sensation not to be missed.
The fact that Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) will be as high as a -3000 betting favorite when he makes his 140-pound debut against Pedro Campa (34-1-1, 23 KOs) at Resorts World Las Vegas wasn’t deprived of intrigue as it watched as one of boxing’s brightest young stars attempt to get his career back on track.
Lopez, 25, didn’t just implode in her, when he was dropped on the first lap and beaten badly for the rest despite a series of rallies. It’s the fact that he pushed the conspiracy angle so heavily afterwards as to why the loss happened by accusing the purse-winning streaming app DAZN of televising the fight after the failure of Triller, for coercing the judges.
New details later emerged that Lopez suffered a life-threatening tear in his esophagus prior to the Kambosos fight, which was postponed multiple times, and initially went undetected by medics. Lopez would also later reveal that his ex-wife, Cynthia, split from him during training camp when she was pregnant with their son.
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Those who have followed Lopez’s meteoric rise know that family drama has long been a recurring theme ahead of his fights, often involving his father and outspoken trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr. But despite outside pressure to seek a new trainer Chief, Lopez has doubled down on his public support for his father and returns this weekend in hopes of repairing all that has been lost in the two years since his upset breakthrough from Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“At the end of the day, this isn’t my first rodeo,” Lopez said at Thursday’s press conference. “I’m 21 in the game – blood, sweat and tears. Do your research and see it. [I’m a] five-time world champion and we’re just here to dominate and do what we always do, which is entertain.”
Although his pursuit of a purse offer before the Kambosos fight has put Lopez at odds with his promoter, Top Rank, and his exclusive broadcast partner, ESPN, everyone seems to be playing well again as Lopez enters the next. chapter of his career in a new weight class.
The reality for Lopez is that there are plenty of interesting fights for him at 140 under the Top Rank banner if he gets past Campa, including everyone from Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall to Jose Ramirez, Jose Zepeda and Regis Prograis. But Lopez preferred to stay focused on what’s in front of him.
“None of this is possible until we finish the job,” Lopez said. “This guy in front of me is going to try to stop my dreams and stop everything I shoot for. Every time I step into the ring, I’m risking my life and risking everything. We doubled down every time.
“When it comes to me, it’s just me against me and nobody else. I thank God for that, he’s always in my corner. I can’t wait to shut my mouth and open my mouth too I just want to let them know. Don’t call it a comeback, it’s the TakeOver. It’s part two.
Campa, 30, has never fought outside of his native Mexico and has yet to beat an opponent close to Lopez’s level. But he’s an aggressive fighter with good power who’s hungry to make a name for himself despite being such a big underdog.
“I don’t care what people think. I know what I’m up against here,” Campa said. “[Lopez] is a great fighter and one of the best, so I’m ready and focused. I think I will win. I think anything can happen, but the main thing is victory. I’m going to get this win, but I can take it.”
Watching Kambosos continue to drop his belts in his first title defense against now undisputed king Devin Haney has largely confirmed that Lopez may just have had the worst performance of his career on Kambosos’ best night. Lopez also admitted that he only came out as aggressive in pursuit of a first-round knockout due to the uncertainty of his injuries.
Yet despite the expected skill difference between the two, Lopez still believes he will have to go back to war against Campa to raise his hand.
“When it comes to that, he’s got that Mexican boxing style and he’s aggressive,” Lopez said. “He’s going to come out there and it’s going to be all out war, it’s going to be a fight. I’m very excited about it. I love the competition. The higher the level the bigger the devil but my God is bigger and it’s just about focusing on that.”
For the record, Lopez still seems to largely believe the conspiratorial rhetoric he went public with immediately after his loss to Kambosos. Although he answered “no comment” when asked about it by “Morning Kombat” last week, he continued to make multiple references suggesting the boxing business was against him.
That reaction alone has led some to wonder exactly where Lopez stands mentally, spiritually and emotionally after so much turmoil in a short time. Either way, Lopez thinks it’s best to have been through it all, including the good and the bad.
Fight card, odds
- Teofimo Lopez Jr. -3000 vs. Pedro Campa +1300, junior welterweights (10 rounds)
- Xander Zayas -3500 vs. Elias Espadas +1400, junior middleweights (eight rounds)
- Date: August 13 | Location: Resorts World–Las Vegas
- Start time: 10 p.m. ET
- TV: ESP | Flow: fuboTV (try for free)
Everything about the loss to Kambosos feels like an aberration, in hindsight knowing what we don’t know about Lopez’s physical condition. Still, one has to remember how poor his game plan was and what little Lopez’s dad/coach seemed to be doing between rounds to help him make the necessary adjustments to get the win.
Lopez had previously been co-trained by Joey Gamache but opted not to pay him (along with his nutrition team) to join the Kambosos fight due to multiple postponements which extended training camp and left Lopez short of time. ‘silver. Now Gamache is completely gone.
Still, given the level of competition he will face at Campa, none of this will likely matter provided Lopez comes back to his means patient and ready to properly set up his explosive style behind his jab.
Lopez has more than enough ammunition in terms of motivation to prove all doubters wrong and the right opponent in front of him with a style tailored to step into something big. A knockout win won’t necessarily calm his detractors or provide the required confidence that all is well within Team Lopez.
But that remains the most likely scenario.
Take: Lopez via TKO8