Teofimo Lopez and Shakur Stevenson will be on display in their respective undercard bouts on Saturday, April 20 at Madison Square Garden which is headlined by Terence “Bud” Crawford defending his WBO welterweight world title against Amir “King” Khan.
Stevenson, the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, will take on former world title challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz in a 10-round featherweight bout. Lopez, the consensus 2018 Prospect of the Year and top lightweight contender, will square off against two-time European lightweight champion and former title challenger Edis Tatli in a 10-rounder.
Also appearing on the card, Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo will face former two-time interim super featherweight champion Bryan Vasquez in a 10-round bout that will have world title picture implications.
While details on access to the pay-per-view are unavailable at this time, the main card will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The entire undercard, however, will be available on the streaming service ESPN+ live beginning at 6 p.m. ET.
Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs) rose from prospect to contender in 2018 and early 2019 with a slew of attention-grabbing wins, which included knockout wins over Mason Menard and Diego Magdaleno in his last two fights. A 2016 Olympian for Honduras, the Brooklyn-born boxer last fought at Madison Square Garden on May 12 of last year and won by a first-round knockout of Vitor Jones Freitas which he capped off with a Fortnite dance that went viral.
“Every time I fight in my hometown, I take over the show, and that’s what I plan on doing again,” Lopez said. “This is the year I become a world champion, and whoever stands in my way is going to get knocked out. If you think you’ve seen the best version of Teofimo Lopez, think again. The Takeover is coming to Madison Square Garden and ESPN pay-per-view.
“One thing I know for sure: Tatli will be dancing with the real star of The Takeover on April 20. This ain’t reality TV. This is a real fight.”
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) March 5, 2019
Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs) is ranked No. 3 by the IBF and has wins over current European lightweight champion Francesco Patera, top contender Yvan Mendy and former world champion Mzonke Fana. A celebrity in his native country of Finland, Tatli recently took home the first prize on “Tanssii tähtien kanss,” the Finnish version of the popular BBC program, “Strictly Come Dancing.”
“This is a great matchup, and I can’t wait to get the job done,” Tatli said. “Lopez is a skilled fighter, and he is in for a real treat on April 20. My goal has been clear for a long time — to win a world title — and Lopez is not going to stop me from reaching it.”
Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs) followed up a 5-0 campaign in 2018 with a spectacular fourth-round TKO over Jessie Cris Rosales on Jan. 18 in Verona, N.Y. A native of Newark, N.J. — a short train ride from Madison Square Garden — Stevenson hopes to move closer to a world title opportunity in front of his home fans.
“Newark is going to be in the building on April 20 as I show Christopher Diaz what I’m all about,” Stevenson said. “After I get done with him, Diaz will wish he’d stayed at 130 pounds. Soon enough, the featherweight division is going to run through me.”
Diaz (24-1, 16 KOs), from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, moved down to featherweight following his July 2018 decision loss to Masayuki Ito for the vacant WBO junior lightweight world title. He knocked out David Berna in the first round on Nov. 24 to set up the Stevenson showdown.
“I feel super motivated and focused as always for another big fight in another big event,” Diaz said. “I like these kinds of challenges. I’m fighting against a silver medalist of the 2016 Rio Olympics who is also a great prospect with a lot of potential. He needs to demonstrate that he has what nobody can teach him. He needs to show that he has heart and gallantry. We’ll see on April 20 when he faces his first real tough test. I will come prepared as I always do. On that night, he will understand that you can’t teach cojones and that I was born with very big ones.”
Verdejo (24-1, 16 KOs), is trying to get back on track after his first loss last March via a 10th-round stoppage to Antonio Lozada Jr. in a fight he was ahead on points. He was victorious in his rebound fight on Nov. 10 in Puerto Rico, knocking out Yardley Armenta Cruz in the second round. Vasquez (37-3, 20 KOs) has won two in a row since a close majority decision loss to Ray Beltran in August 2017.
“I’m going into this new challenge ready to demonstrate my skills against a world-class fighter,” Verdejo said. “I hope that this fight will open the doors to big fights. I want to bring a world championship to Puerto Rico, and this is the year.”
“In order for me to lose to Verdejo, he’s going to have to kill me,” Vasquez said. “In order for him to kill me, he’s going to have to be willing to die with me. And he’s already shown that he’s not willing to die in there.”