Section: Sports

Lopez defeats Lomachenko in lightweight championship

On Oct. 17, Teofimo Lopez defeated Vasily Lomachenko in the first-ever undisputed, winner-take-all lightweight championship title match in boxing history.

Heading into the fight, the 32-year-old Ukranian-born Lomachenko held three of the four world championship belts: the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the Ring magazine lightweight champion belt. His opponent, the 23-year-old underdog Lopez, hailing from New York City, held only the International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight championship. 

In addition to being the first ever lightweight unification fight, Lopez vs. Lomachenko was billed as an exciting matchup because the two men fought and behaved in the ring so differently. Known for landing more than half of his power punches, Lopez is a knockout artist. In 14 fights leading up to the title belt with Lomachenko, 12 of his victories had come by way of knockout. Lopez is a relative newcomer to the sport. On the other hand, Lomachenko, known by many as just “Loma,” has developed a reputation for himself within the sport as an incredibly gifted, technical fighter. Lomachenko fights by stepping around his opponents and using his speed and stamina to outbox them. In only 14 contests, he was able to secure three of the four title belts and acquire 11 knockouts. Lomachenko spent years of his career fighting at the amateur level (his amateur record is the best ever at 396-1).

The title fight began uneventfully for both men, who spent the majority of the first round sizing each other up. However, Lopez was able to land a few sharp jabs, whereas Lomachenko neglected to throw a punch, appearing nervous about Lopez’s power. 

Lopez continued to control the fight in the ensuing rounds. By using the jab as a defensive tool, he was able to keep his distance from the shorter Lomachenko and prevent him from stepping inside his reach. He repeatedly threw powerful shots to Lomachenko’s body. 

The momentum began to shift in the middle rounds. In the seventh round, Lomachenko appeared noticeably more aggressive, and landed a series of shots on Lopez. However, he was never in complete control of the fight, and Lopez was able to successfully retaliate a couple of times. 

In the dying moments of the twelfth and final round, Lopez reestablished his dominance through a series of power punches. Ultimately, Lomachenko’s late burst, while admirable, proved to be too little, too late.

The judges unanimously awarded Lopez the victory. This proved to be controversial among some, who claimed that the fight was much more closely contested than it was scored. Boxing website Fightnews.com scored the fight as a much closer affair than the official judges, while HBO boxing even stated that they had the fight scored as a draw. Ultimately, these scorings all proved inconsequential, as they had no bearing on the result of the fight. Lopez, at age 23, became not only the youngest, but also the only undisputed lightweight world champion in boxing history.

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