Posted on 02/07/2024
By: Sean Crose
Teofimo Lopez is fascinating. At least he used to be up until the point where he defeated pound for pound star Vasyl Lomachenko back in 2019. The Lopez of that time could take out a wall, and had the guts and confidence to take on the best in the business. There’s still no denying Lopez’ courage and determination, but he’s only engaged in four fights since besting Lomachenko, and surprisingly lost one of them. While names like Terence Crawford, and Devin Haney have been leaving their marks on the sport of boxing, Lopez has – intentionally or not – largely remained on the margins.
Of course that all may change on Thursday evening when the 26 year old New Yorker squares off against the talented Jamaine Ortiz in a Las Vegas defense of his WBO junior welterweight title. The match – which will be broadcast live on ESPN – will pit the 19-1 Lopez against the 17-1 Ortiz in a scheduled twelve round affair. The matchup has the makings for good television, which is nice to know, since fights of this level are now frequently – albeit inexplicably – finding themselves as pay per view events. What’s more, the bout should gauge where the still young Lopez is in his career. Lopez is expected to win, but Ortiz isn’t anyone to sleep on.
Sure enough the 27 year old Worcester native has been defeated only once himself – and that was by Lomachenko in 2022. (he also battled Joseph Adorno to a draw in 2021). Although he lost to Lopez when the two young men were amateurs, Ortiz views that defeat as motivation for a grand performance on Thursday night. “I still have that in my head that he beat me once,” he’s said, “and I’m going to revenge that loss.” Lopez, of course, has other thoughts on the matter, though that’s not to say he’s overlooking Ortiz.
“We go back like nine years,” he’s said of his opponent. “We faced each other in the 2015 National Golden Glove finale and it was a great scrap up…I know I’m facing somebody that definitely got the skill set to give me a run for my money.” Many would argue that Ortiz is good for the sport of boxing – and they’d have a point. Not only can he entertain in the ring, the man can also show a brashness which draws attention. He’ll need brashness when the opening bell rings Thursday night. A good performance is a must if he’s to get the kinds of big money/high profile fights he wants.
The same, of course, could be said for Ortiz.