LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez definitely doesn’t expect Josh Taylor to fight him next.
In fact, the undefeated, unified lightweight champion claimed Tuesday that he feels Taylor will move up from the 140-pound division to 147, in part to avoid opposing Lopez. The 23-year-old Lopez spoke about boxing Taylor, the fully unified junior welterweight champion, to a group of reporters prior to his open workout at City Athletic Boxing Club.
“I’ve been talking about it,” Lopez said. “Let’s make it happen, yo. He’s talking about moving up to 147, which I figured, yo. They scared, man. They all scared. That’s how I look at it, man. They know, man. I’m too fast, I’m too smart, I’m too sharp and I’m too strong. You know, and he’d rather go up at 147 because he’ll beat a lot of guys, he’ll be quicker on his feet and he’ll be able to handle himself more at 147. I ain’t stupid, man. I see how the game go. But eventually, they gonna have to feel that pressure and I’m gonna come at them, too. Just like we asked about it with Loma.”
Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is training for his fight June 19 against Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. at loanDepot Park in Miami (Triller Fight Club Pay-Per-View; $49.99). The unbeaten Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) is the IBF’s mandatory challenger for one of Lopez’s championships.
Lopez plans to move up to the 140-pound division in the foreseeable future, but he acknowledged that he’ll likely remain at the lightweight limit for one more fight after boxing Kambosos. He also suspects Taylor will make a mandatory defense of his WBO junior welterweight title next against England’s Jack Catterall (26-0, 13 KOs).
The 30-year-old Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) won the WBC and WBO 140-pound crowns from Jose Ramirez (26-1, 17 KOs), who lost a 12-round unanimous decision Saturday night inside The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
When asked about the stylistic challenges that the left-handed Taylor could present, Lopez offered a reminder of his career-defining points victory versus Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) on October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
“Take the most technical fighter, and I out-boxed him,” Lopez said. “What the hell does Josh Taylor bring to the table? Just he bringing my belts, that’s all he does.”
Lopez emphasized that he doesn’t think Taylor truly wants to fight him.
“Yo, at the end of it, man, y’all don’t smell it, but I do,” Lopez said. “And I smell fear in all those guys. I can see it in they face, and I can see it in they team. They feel that pressure. I’m young, but at the same time, I’m ready, man. I told y’all, though, it’s too late for all them now. It’s too late.
“The fact that I faced Lomachenko, I like to challenge myself, first and foremost, and that just elevated me to a whole other level now. June 19th, when it comes, y’all gonna really see it, really gonna see it. I see everything. I see it more clearly now than I did before. And I appreciate myself, first and foremost, for being able to step up to the plate, unlike these other fighters.”
A reporter then questioned whether Lopez actually believes Taylor is scared to fight him, especially since the Scottish southpaw’s resume includes victories over Ramirez, and three more former 140-pound champions – Regis Prograis, Viktor Postol and Ivan Baranchyk.
“Yeah, man,” Lopez replied. “He’s over here telling me I got unfinished business at 135, when in reality I cleaned up the whole division.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.