At the age of 22, Teofimo is a three-year pro. The IBF lightweight world champion, he was an amateur standout before his debut – he earned a place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team at 132 pounds, but controversial politics in the amateur program took it away from him. He instead represented Honduras, the birthplace of his parents, in Rio de Janeiro.
He has been very active in the ring with 15 fights since his debut in November, 2016.
Teofimo is widely considered the top young talent in the entire sport, and in his last fight on December 14 at in New York – his biggest fight yet on the sport’s biggest stage – he rose to the occasion and delivered a sensational performance. He won the IBF lightweight world title with an electrifying second-round TKO against defending champion Richard Commey.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported from ringside [excerpts]: Is Teofimo Lopez Jr. the real deal? That was the key question for the 2018 ESPN prospect of the year going into his shot at lightweight world titleholder Richard Commey, who was by far his most significant opponent.
The answer: A resounding yes.
Lopez is for real.
He annihilated Commey in the second round to take Commey’s IBF lightweight world title in emphatic fashion in the Terence Crawford–Egidijus Kavaliauskas co-feature at Madison Square Garden.
Commey (29-3, 26 KOs) had previously suffered only two highly competitive decision losses. He had never been overwhelmed before, until facing Lopez.
Commey, a Ghana native fighting out of New York who was making his second defense, looked good in the opening round, touching Lopez with a couple of right hands. But then Lopez destroyed him in the second.
Lopez wobbled Commey with a left hook, then floored him seconds later with a right hand on the chin. Commey was unsteady when the fight continued, and Lopez stormed after him. Lopez landed numerous right-left combinations and had Commey in all sorts of trouble and backed into the ropes.
As Lopez continued to blast away, Commey was helpless. Referee David Fields finally stepped in and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 13 seconds of the second round.
Lopez, as he always does, celebrated with a backflip. Then, as he did when he fought on Heisman Trophy night in 2018, Lopez struck the Heisman pose in the ring while wearing newly crowned Heisman winner Joe Burrow’s LSU jersey.
Pound-for-pound king and unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko was seated ringside to scout the fight, because the plan called for him to fight the victor – Lopez – to further unify the 135-pound title in the spring.
Lopez and his father, trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr., have been very vocal calling Lomachenko out, and now it looks like they will get the chance. [End Rafael item]
In his post-fight interview, Teofimo Jr. said, “I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true. He is a bad man. His shot could’ve done the same to me if he hit me with that shot.
“You all know who I want to fight next – 2020 is going to be a big year. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you haven’t seen anything yet.”
In earlier interviews, Teofimo said, “Me and my father, we always stay ready. When we don’t even have fights, we stay ready.
“I’m an entertainer – got to entertain! My style – I’m technical, very technical. I’m very smart when I’m in the ring, like Albert Einstein. I’m like a Sugar Ray, Floyd Mayweather – I’m a boxer, but if the knockout comes, it comes.”
“I don’t have a nickname right now, but people know me as Gordo.”
Trainer-father Teofimo Lopez Sr. said that the name ‘Teofimo’ runs far back in his family history: “My family is originally from Spain. Teofimo is the name of my father, my father’s father, and his father. What happened was, there were nine brothers and one sister in the family. It was a tight-knit family, and my father was the third son. He was the only one to leave the family. He went to Brazil and from Brazil he went to Honduras, where he met my mother. He was the only one that got the name.”
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND:
Teofimo said, “I was born in Brooklyn, New York. I have two sisters, no brothers. I’m the youngest. My family moved to Davie, Florida, when I was five years old – we drove over there.
“My father boxed at one time when he was younger. He used to knock everybody out in the street so he thought, ‘Let me try this boxing thing out.’ He did one amateur show, which was the biggest thing in New York – the Daily News Golden Gloves. It was way before I was born. My father and my sister were doing this ‘Ancestry’ thing and I think they found out that my grandfather used to box, but I’m not sure about that.
“I was six years old when I started boxing – I’ve basically been doing it my whole life. My father was going to the gym just to train for himself and he would always take me with him. He would have to leave and told the coach, ‘I’ve got to do some things and park the car, and I’ll be back in 10 minutes.’ So, the coach grabbed me and had me hit the pads and everything – I caught everything real quick! I believe that I was born with it. Then, when my father came back, he seen me hitting the pads and he was amazed, like, ‘Whoa!’ And that’s when he took over training me. He just focused on me then.
“I had 170 amateur fights. I had like, 150 wins. I won the national Golden Gloves in 2015 and then two weeks later, I had to go get ready for the Olympic Qualifier, where I won ‘Outstanding Boxer.’ After that, I had the bad news about AIBA. They gave the other kid the spot on the Olympic team – he didn’t win it, but they gave him the spot. My parents were both born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, so I qualified to make the Honduran Olympic team. Most of my losses were bad decisions, just like the Olympics. It’s happened plenty of times before. I wasn’t upset about what happened at the Olympics, I was just in shock about it.
“I’m naturally right-handed but when I play soccer, I kick with my left foot.”
Teofimo married his girlfriend, Cynthia Ortez, in a private ceremony on April 23, 2019, in Jonesboro, Arkansas; he said, “Cynthia, my wife, was born in Nicaragua, but she left at the age of three to Vegas with her family and basically was raised in Vegas for her whole life. A couple of years ago, her family moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas. First it was her brother-in-law. He took her sister there, then little by little, everybody started going there. Her mother – my mother-in-law – just went there last year. We did like, an eloping wedding. It was just something small and intimate.
“I am more grounded now – it’s married life! It’s just part of growing up. I don’t need to act reckless and so on and so forth. I can still talk my trash, but be more mature about it. I just want everybody to know that, even with this new hairstyle that I’ve got, I’m still the same confident fighter. That will not change!”
2016 OLYMPIC GAMES – Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 132 pounds: in his first fight on 8-7-16 he lost a 3-0 decision against Sofiane Oumiha of France.
The Associated Press’ Dan Gelston reported from ringside [Aug. 8, 2016 – excerpts]: His heart in the United States and his fight for Honduras, Teofimo Lopez stood in the Olympic ring feeling like a boxer without a country. The 19-year-old fighter was born in New York, raised in Florida, and developed into a prime candidate for the United States in the boxing tournament. With a win in the Olympic trials, Lopez certainly had the credentials to land a spot in USA Boxing.
Because of a convoluted series of circumstances, Lopez was squeezed out of a likely role fighting for his home country. Instead, he fought for the homeland of both of his parents and became the entire Olympic boxing team for Honduras.
Qualifying for the Olympics has long been a complicated system, and the winner of a little-known tournament was actually used for the first time to select team members. Lopez won the lightweight division at the U.S. Olympic trials in December, and his feat was still not enough to make the team.
Carlos Balderas had qualified for the one open lightweight slot based on his finish in the World Series of Boxing, a little-seen series not really known outside of amateur circles. Lopez was not old enough to compete in the series. Lopez felt abandoned by the Amateur International Boxing Association.
But by the time Lopez lost a unanimous decision to Sofiane Oumiha of France, he was ready to move on and forget about Rio. Lopez was sharp in the ring but lost 30-27 on all three cards to a fighter with a much deeper pedigree.
Lopez’s father and trainer was furious at the decision…. “You won the fight! But they’re not going to give it to you. I told you from the beginning,” his father said, hands gesturing toward his son’s face. “Dad, it’s over, man.”
Lopez never wanted to fight for another country, only eventually being persuaded to fight for Honduras once he realized it was his only opportunity to make the Olympics. He had the Olympics, just not his country. Lopez still performed a backflip in the ring once he lost the decision.
“I always said, ‘medalha de ouro,’ ” Portuguese for gold medal, “because when you attract positivity it comes to you. “But that didn’t come out today,” he said. [End Gelston item]
2016 AMERICAN OLYMPIC QUALIFIER II – Buenos Aires, Argentina, 132 pounds – SILVER MEDALIST: in his first fight on 3-14-16 he won a 3-0 decision against Ludy Tenorio of Ecuador; in the quarterfinals on 3-16-16 he won a 3-0 decision against Brian Gonzalez of Mexico; in the semifinals on 3-17-16 he won a 3-0 decision against Ignacio Perrin of Argentina; in the finals on 3-19-16 he lost a 2-1 decision against Luis Cabrera of Venezuela.
2015 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS – Reno, Nevada, 132 pounds/double elimination tournament – GOLD MEDALIST: in the semifinals (his first fight) on 12-8-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Israel Mercado; in the finals on 12-12-15 he won a 2-1 decision against Malik Montgomery.
2015 OLYMPIC TRIALS QUALIFIER I – Colorado Springs, Colorado, 132 pounds – GOLD MEDALIST / WON “OUTSTANDING BOXER” AWARD: in his first fight on 6-23-15 he won a decision against Javar Jones; in his second fight on 6-24-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Kenneth Taylor; in the quarterfinals on 6-25-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Eder Carrillo; in the semifinals on 6-26-15 he won a 2-0 decision against Jousce Gonzalez; in the finals on 6-27-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Genaro Gamez.
2015 NATIONAL GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPIONSHIPS – Las Vegas, Nevada, 132 pounds – GOLD MEDALIST: in his first fight on 5-12-15 he defeated Yousif Saleh; in his second fight on 5-13-15 he defeated Gabriel Chairez; in the quarterfinals on 5-14-15 he defeated Israel Mercado; in the semifinals on 5-15-15 he defeated Andres Cortes; in the finals on 5-16-15 he defeated Jamine Rodriguez.
2015 U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Reno, Nevada, 132 pounds: in his first fight on 1-5-15 he won a 2-1 decision against Reshat Mati; in his second fight on 1-6-15 he won a 3-0 decision against Paul Allen; in the quarterfinals on 1-7-15 he lost a decision against Andres Cortes.
2014 NATIONAL GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPIONSHIPS – Las Vegas, Nevada, 132 pounds: in his first fight on 5-13-14 he won a 5-0 decision against Jesus Vasquez; in his second fight on 5-14-14 he lost a 3-2 decision against Javar Jones.
2014 U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Reno, Nevada, 132 pounds – BRONZE MEDALIST: in his first fight on 1-8-14 he won a 2-1 decision against Kelvin Davis; in the quarterfinals on 1-9-14 he won a 3-0 decision against Jesse Villareal; in the semifinals on 1-10-14 he lost a 3-0 decision against Andres Cortes.
2013 U.S. JUNIOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – Mobile, Alabama, 125 pounds: in his first fight on 6-26-13 he lost a 3-0 decision against Gonzalo Rodriguez.
2013 NATIONAL SILVER GLOVES CHAMPONSHIPS – 125 pounds/14-15 year-old division – GOLD MEDALIST [results not currently available]
STRENGTHS: Has an aggressive style and exceptional skills and movement…has good punching power…is physically strong and naturally athletic…had a strong amateur background…has a strong family boxing background…
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 15 fights – 60 total rounds – 2 world championship rounds
AVERAGE LENGTH OF BOUTS: 4 rounds
KNOCKOUT PERCENTAGE: 80 %
DISTANCE FIGHTS: 12 rounds – 1 (1-0) – 10 rounds – 0 – 8 rounds – 0 – 7 rounds – 1 (1-0)