It’s becoming commonplace for rising star, Teofimo “El Brooklyn” Lopez, to insist or flat out demand attention be paid to and heaped upon his fights these days. Verbally and otherwise, whether opening and/or co-main eventing “Top Rank Boxing on ESPN”, the 21-year-old Lopez has proven to be consistently captivating; a certified scene and show stealer. Saturday, February 2nd was no exception as he destroyed tough former world title challenger, Diego Magdaleno in seven one-sided rounds, at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Lopez-Magdaleno opened a two-fight card broadcast live on ESPN+. Training headquarters for “America’s Team”, the Dallas Cowboys, The Star seated nearly 5,000 fans with a peak viewing audience of over 1mil watching the ESPN/ESPN Deportes fistic festivities preceding the live streamed action.
Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KO’s), a 2016 Honduran Olympian, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY., is in a very precarious predicament. He’s simply too good for the opposition he’s being matched with, yet his matchmakers are pushing older, more established names within the same division for world title opportunities. Lopez is being told his time will come, but he’s showing a proving now might be the time. In the interim, he’s made examples of William Silva, who’d never been stopped previously. After that, he disposed of normally durable journeyman, Mason Menard, in just 44 seconds, voted “KO of the Year” by most reputable boxing sources.
Seemingly conscious of the brevity of his last outing, Lopez didn’t come out gunning for a quick knockout necessarily. Instead, he kept his left foot on the outside of his southpaw opponents lead right foot and took full advantage of the right-handed punching opportunities this tact elicits. By round 2, Lopez more than found a home for straight right hands and right crosses to the head/body and literally knocked the snot from Magdaleno’s nose with a right uppercut. Teofimo was a study in speed, timing, power, accuracy, athleticism and ring IQ and bloodied his foe along the bridge of the nose.
Just as ESPN+ color commentator, Mark Kriegel, astutely labeled Lopez a “creature of his Father’s (Teofimo, Sr.) ambition”, Teofimo fired a spinning, behind-the-back right hand. In and of itself, the feat was noteworthy, but in this case, the shot landed; Magdaleno actually ducked into the blow. A slapping left hook dropped Magladeno hard in the 6th but he bravely rose and was saved by the bell. Bleeding profusely, staggering back to his corner, grossly overmatched, Magdaleno’s corner should have stopped the affair then and there. Their negligence resulted in an early candidate for “2019 KO of the year”, two brutal, thwacking left hooks that left Magdaleno flat on his back.
Teofimo Lopez would beat Richard Commey, who claimed the vacant IBF lightweight title on the non-streamed portion of ESPN’s airings. He’d beat Rey Beltran or even Robert Easter, Jr. right now. Tomorrow. But Commey is likely tied to a unification with Vasyl Lomachenko and who knows if/when grizzled veterans will want to risk health and harm against a killer like Lopez.
Sergey Kovalev (33-3-1, 28 KO’s) vs. Eleider Alvarez(24-1, 12 KO’s)
It’s rare for a redemptive, title regaining, comeback story to garner second fiddle status, but such was the case with the rematch between Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev and Eleider “Storm” Alvarez. The aforementioned co-main undoubtedly acquired more social media hits, views, likes, etc., afterwards, but coming off a KO loss, Kovalev didn’t want or necessarily need to engage in a fan-friendly, spirited occasion. So, he didn’t. Alvarez pursued, but Kovalev gave ground, when Eleider zigged, Sergey zagged, working behind basic 1-2 combinations all the while.
Having been ahead on all cards, yet defeated via three knockdown, 7th round stoppage in his last fight, Kovalev sought a new chief second. He teamed with former two-weight world champion and Hall of Famer, Buddy McGirt, who already trains fighter’s guided by Kovalev’s manager, Igas Klimas. McGirt emphasized a return to basics, simplicity and reliance on the left jab. It was a departure from what we’re accustomed to from “Krusher” Kovalev, but his career has not only been reinvigorated, but perhaps prolonged.
Kovalev became a three-time light heavyweight champion by unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 (twice) and 120-108. With the recent defeat of WBC titlist, Adonis Stevenson, all four reigning belt holders at 175 pounds are of Eastern European descent. Kovalev may not reach his goal of retiring as undisputed champion, but he certainly won’t be an easy out for anyone.