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Teofimo Lopez Squeaks By Martin In Split Decision

Teofimo Lopez Squeaks By Martin In Split Decision

Boxing News

Teofimo Lopez Squeaks By Martin In Split Decision

Mikey Williams- Top Rank

Teofimo Lopez Squeaks By Martin In Split Decision

NEW YORK — Teofimo Lopez didn’t put on an impressive display and he also got knocked down but he did enough to win a split decision over Sandor Martin in a WBC junior welterweight final elimination bout on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden .

After Lopez was announced the winner before the pro-Lopez crowd of 8,029 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Heisman Trophy night card, Lopez did his traditional back flip and donned the jersey of USC quarterback Caleb Williams, who earlier in the evening won the Heisman Trophy a few blocks from the Garden.

Two judges had it for the former unified lightweight champ Lopez 97-2 and 96-93 and one judge had 95-94 for Martin. Big Fight Weekend had it 96-93 for Lopez,

The win makes Lopez a mandatory challenger for Regis Prograis, who won the vacant 140-pound title by 11th-round knockout of Jose Zepeda on Nov. 26. By winning the vacant title, Prograis is supposed to make consecutive mandatory defenses, first against former unified titlist Jose Ramirez and then against Lopez, the former unified lightweight champion.

Lopez won his second fight in a row since moving up to junior welterweight in August following a decision loss in a sensational fight with George Kambosos Jr. last November.

Former European champion Martin (40-3, 13 KOs), 29, a southpaw from Spain, gained some notoriety 13 months ago when traveled to Fresno, California, and won a majority 10-round decision over former four-division world titleholder Mikey Garcia at 144 pounds and sent Garcia into retirement. But he could not replicate the performance against a fresher Lopez, who was initially slated to face former lightweight and junior lightweight titlist Jose Pedraza, but he withdrew about a month ago due to illness.

At the recent WBC convention, the sanctioning body ordered Lopez-Martin as an eliminator and with Pedraza sidelined they quickly made a deal for the new fight.

The fight was mostly slow paced with only occasional burst of action and Lopez was not at all pleased by Martin’s negative style.

“It’s so hard to fight somebody like this when they’re running the whole time,” Lopez said. “Every time this guy committed, I countered and got him every time. He just ran the whole time. It’s OK, though. We got a lot to work on. But first off, I want to thank God for this. No matter what it was. I apologize to everybody tonight. This is not how we perform. But, listen, our dancer partner was running the whole time.

“Every time that this man wanted to commit, I was countering him and tagging him. That’s why he was running the whole time.”

By the end of the very slow-paced first round, Martin was cut on the bridge of his nose.

Early in the second round, Martin scored a flash knockdown when he landed a short right hook high on the side of the head that briefly dropped Lopez, who bounced up quickly and finished the round strong
Brooklyn, New York, native Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs), 25, began to let his hands go in the third round. He caught Martin with multiple stiff right hands as well a combinations as he stalked forward.

Lopez threw many wild shots and was off balance but Martin, who doesn’t throw a lot of punches or having much power, failed take advantage. He moved backwards often and Lopez was the one making the fight, which typically is rewarded by the judges.

Referee Ricky Gonzalez warned Martin for hitting behind the head late in the sixth round, which seemed to upset Lopez, who was all over Martin with punches in the closing seconds.

With neither fighter throwing many punches and the action limited for much of the fight, the fans began booing the extreme slow pace in the ninth round.

The final round produced no urgency from either man, although Lopez has one offensive spurt midway through the round when he forced Martin to a corner and landed a combination.

Martin landed a right hand as Lopez was pushed under the rope wit about 30 seconds left and Gonzalez warned Martin for the infraction and when the bell rang they both raised their hands in victory.

“I felt great overall,” Lopez said. “I knew he was tired. He didn’t want to commit. He was staying on his back foot and just running around the whole time. But it is what it is. This makes it look good. These guys are going to want to fight me now. More than ever. Now this is great. Now I can actually have a good fight.”

According to CompuBox statistics, Lopez landed 97 of 391 punches (25 percent) and Martin landed 77 of 244 (32 percent). Lopez outlanded him in eight of the 10 rounds with one round being tied.

Lopez was not shy about who he wants to fight in the future.

“We would love to fight (WBO champion) Josh Taylor. We would love to fight Regis Prograis, or even a rematch with George Kambosos,” Lopez said. “My whole thing now is just staying focused and staying devoted.”

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Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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