Off his impressive rebound, unanimous decision win of a world title Saturday night in New York City, new WBO junior welterweight champ Teofimo Lopez is now a man with many options. His victory over the lineal 140 lb. champ, Josh Taylor, has certainly placed Lopez “front and center” for potential larger bouts later this year or early 2024.
So, now, we take a look at the most realistic options.
Rematch Josh Taylor
This is a move that seems logical, but is actually complicated for several reasons. First, Lopez won the fight decisively Saturday at MSG’s Hulu Theater by official scores of 117-111 and 115-113 on the other two cards. Those last two were too close, especially when they only had the New York bred former unified lightweight champ Lopez by a single point headed into the fateful final round.
Still, the closeness of those two cards don’t reflect the dominance at times that Lopez showed, especially in the final 6-7 rounds of the 12 rounder. Is there really an appetite to see Lopez-Taylor II? Not sure.
Further, Taylor has made clear for a year that it’s hard on him to make 140 lb. at this point and that he’s interested in moving up to welterweight. He repeated that to ESPN in the ring post fight. But, Lopez has had so much career and out of the ring adversity for the last two years. And, while it’s not 100% certain, Lopez will want to stay at junior welterweight, be a champion with leverage and defend.
Hear Dan Rafael and me discussing Lopez’s options on the latest “Fight Freaks Unite Recap” Podcast by clicking play below,
This would be a potential PPV bout for both, as the now undisputed lightweight champ would look to move up for Lopez’s new title. Haney just recently won a decision over Vasiliy Lomachenko to retain all four belts in his division. If there’s not a huge financial bout for him next at 135 lb., then it would be easy to see him move up and fight Lopez for an immediate chance another title in another weight classs.
Clearly from the Lopez point of view, even though Haney has four belts a division below, he’s in a great leverage position to get arguably the biggest payday of his career.
It’s also no coincidence that Devin Haney’s father and trainer Bill was at ringside in New York Saturday night for Lopez-Taylor. And, Devin is a promotional free agent, but could easily come up in weight for an immediate large fight by signing on again with Top Rank, who just promoted his previous three bouts including the relatively lucrative PPV win last month over Lomachenko.
Another logical choice is former WBC/WBO 140 lb. champ Jose Ramirez. The Northern California native is under the Top Rank promotional umbrella and is a credible challenger for Lopez. Ramirez had is belts taken from him on a decisive loss to Taylor back in May of 2021. He has beaten Jose Pedraza and Richard Commey in subsequent bouts to stay near the top of the 140 lb. rankings for a bout like the possible one with Teofimo.
Of course there are three other champions at 140 lb., but two of them, Regis Prograis and Subriel Matias have promotional deals with Matchroom Boxing and the third, Rolly Romero is with Premier Boxing Champions.
However, Lopez has marketability, especially if he’s fighting in New York and now we’ll see what kind of title defense opponent he chooses.