Top Rank sent an official request to the WBO with hopes of naming junior welterweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. as the organization’s “super champion,” a designation that provides the fighter with special privileges under the WBO guidelines.
“As you are aware Teofimo most recently defeated then WBO world champion Josh Taylor at MSG on June 10,” the letter from Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations, Carl Moretti, sent to the WBO reads. “His performance has received accolades throughout the boxing community as well as a nomination for “Performance of the Year”.
“It should also be noted that Taylor is a former undisputed unified 140-pound world champion never losing any of his titles inside the ring when he fought Teofimo.”
Top Rank also noted that “The magnitude of Teofimo’s accomplishments” are enough to grant him the “super champion” status.
Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs), a 2-1 underdog at the time, handed Taylor his first defeat in June with a dominating unanimous decision victory at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the win, Lopez became a two-division champion at just 25 years old, lending merit to Top Rank’s request.
Fernando Gaztambide, WBO press officer, told ESPN on Thursday that “super champion” designation is a status granted “to those fighters whose professional merits and accomplishments satisfy the criteria set forth in the relevant provision.”
Gaztambide also noted that it is not a title, but rather a status which grants the recipient certain rights considering his accomplishments.
“As a super champion a fighter gets certain privileges, like being named mandatory challenger for a champion in higher or lower divisions, lifetime membership with the WBO, extended time to make mandatory title defenses and other things,” WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel told ESPN.
The decision will be made this week, according to Valcarcel, and depends on Lopez meeting the required qualifications.
“We have rules and criteria the fighter should meet. If the five-member championship committee approves the request, it will need to be approved by the 23-member executive committee by majority,” Valcarcel explained.
Some of the WBO criteria includes that the fighter has a “Multiple bout contract with a major television [company].” It also states that the fighter requesting the “super champion” designation had a minimum of 10 title defenses or if less than 10, the fighter has defended the belt against “opponents of high recognition and high skills.”
Other provisions are that the fighter has been a champion in more than one division or has held more than one championship from the other major organizations (WBC, WBA, IBF), or has been a unified champion, among others. Lopez checks all those boxes, having been a former WBO lightweight champion and a unified champion.
Currently, the WBO has five “super champions”, heavyweight Oleksandr Usyk, super middleweight Canelo Alvarez, junior middleweight Jermell Charlo, welterweight Terence Crawford, and lightweight Devin Haney.