Where is Teofimo Lopez’ head ahead of the Vasiliy Lomachenko fight?
Clearly, IBF world lightweight champion Teofimo “El Brooklyn” Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s) will fight with great rage on October 17. This observation is not the result of sleuth-like deduction. Instead the Brooklyn-borne fighter has confessed to the fact.
Throughout the build-up to his unification bout with WBC “Franchise”, WBA super, and WBO world lightweight champion Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KO’s), he has spoken at great length about his fury. It’s his intent to focus that maniacal energy to bust up and beat down the multidivisional champ.
WHO’S TALKING? THE FATHER OR SON?
While all the tough talk and bravado make for fantastic sound-bytes, can we believe that it is all genuine? One must wonder if all the over-the-top theatrics are rooted in merely obliging familial loyalty. The first seeds of doubt have come, once again, straight from Lopez’s mouth.
It’s a well-known fact that El Brooklyn is coached by his father Teofimo Lopez Sr. It’s also a well-established fact that his father talks more smack than Clubber Lang at a Rocky Balboa presser. In more than one interview, Lopez has confessed that he is often forced to back up the threats and promises made by his father.
Which would lead some to wonder where the current line has been drawn? How much of this current tough talk is natural and how much is towing the line for pops?
ONE FACE FOR THE CAMERAS, ANOTHER IN PERSON
To promote the upcoming mega-fight airing on ESPN, Top Rank produced a two-part series named “Blood, Sweat and Tears”. Over the course of the two episodes Lopez committed a great deal to film.
El Brooklyn promised an early knockout, vehemently spoke of his lack of respect and expressed undeniable venom. At one point, he went so far as to spit on the floor like a pissed off Joe Pesci in a Martin Scorsese mob flick.
What is curious, however, during the recent final presser to promote their showdown all of this aggression seems to have melted away. While sitting on the stage with one another, Lopez did not glare, spit, cuss or even commit to the promise of a knockout.
Instead, the agitated bull seen throughout the preliminary hype was replaced by a more jovial, twitchy and conservative persona. For fans of El Brooklyn this was a sharp, if not troubling, shift in demeanor.
While on stage, host Joe Tessitore questioned Lopez about his strained relationship with his father. This rift was a central focus in the second episode of the Blood, Sweat and Tears mini-series. Naturally, the IBF champion dismissed any notion that there was anything to it. He insisted that they had patched it up and everything was business as usual.
Obviously, it’s definitely not a good thing for the IBF champ to be having discord with his father. Especially going into the biggest, and most dangerous, fight of his professional career. Yet, there is more to be concerned about.
WILL FAMILY DRAMA BLEED INTO THE RING?
After undoubtedly his poorest televised performance, against Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12 KO’s), Lopez cited family discord as the culprit. In that scenario, his family had largely rejected his relationship with his new bride Cynthia Lopez.
Without the complete support of his family toward his romantic union he suffered greatly in the ring. So, what calamity might arise if he is still beefing with his father who doubles as his chief second?
It’s a very reasonable question.
There is no denying there was a drastic change in his demeanor when across the stage with Hi-Tech. Combine that with his open confession to having a recent discord with father this all becomes rather eye-brow raising.
Where exactly is El Brooklyn’s head right now? Are he and his father on the same page, or are they feuding behind the scenes? Is he the focused knockout artist we’ve become accustomed to or is he a troubled son out of alignment with this coach?
So when the rage filled fighter climbs into the ring, who will that anger be directed at?
Lomachenko? His father? Or both?
Will it be a focused and honed aggression or a blind rage that may leave him vulnerable? Only time will tell. But these are definitely not the manner of issues that Lopez fans want to be mulling over literally on the eve of this grand lightweight unification.
Tune in to see how it all plays out!
By: Bakari Simpson