Vasiliy Lomachenko is the best boxer in the world—at least in my view—but he’s certainly in danger of losing to Teofimo Lopez on Saturday night. Though Lomachenko is the solid betting favorite at -450, Lopez, a +325 underdog, is younger and bigger than him. And perhaps hungrier. Lomachenko hasn’t been quite as great as a 135-pound lightweight as he was in the lower weight classes, and Lopez has the talent, motivation and punching power to potentially pull off the upset.
Most boxers, though, are still leaning toward Lomachenko winning. I couldn’t get Gervonta “Tank” Davis to give me a straight answer when I talked to him earlier this week—all he’d say is “I’m a boxing fan. Boxing wins on that night”—but plenty of others in the sport have made their opinions known.
It’s one of boxing’s biggest nights of 2020, and it could end up becoming a modern classic.
“That’s going to be fight of the year,” welterweight star Shawn Porter said, via Bad Left Hook. “I’m not picking a winner but I’ll break it down. I think that Lopez is explosive. I think he’s fast, he’s sharp. I don’t think he’s seen all of it in the ring. And I don’t think he’s biting off more than he can chew, but I do think he might not be all the way ready for a fighter like Lomachenko. But he’s young, he’s vibrant … that’s a dangerous combination. I think we know what we’re going to get from Loma. Loma’s going to come out and find his rhythm, figure out what’s going to work, and use it .. .I think the fight is more complex for Teofimo than it is for Lomachenko.”
That said, let’s talk to the fighters and experts of the sport who know these boxers better than most anybody else and see who they predict will win.
Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight predictions
Terence Crawford: Along with Canelo Alvarez and Naoya Inoue, Crawford could also be considered the top fighter on the pound-for-pound list. And there’s little doubt in the welterweight titlist’s head that Lopez is absolutely prepared to take on an opponent of Lomachenko’s caliber. “I don’t know about [him] winning, but he’s definitely ready. He’s been ready,” Crawford said, via Fight Hype. “I don’t know who’s going to win that fight. I might lean a little more toward Lomachenko, because he has the experience. He’s been there before. But at the same time, you can’t count Teofimo out. He’s no slouch. He’s coming to fight and he’s coming to knock out Lomachenko.”
Sergiy Derevyanchenko: The middleweight contender who is coming off a tough loss to Jermall Charlo last month used to be amateur teammates with Lomachenko. So, it’s not surprising who he’s picking to win. “The interest in the fight is that Lopez is younger and stronger,” Derevyanchenko recently told me. “But Lomachenko is strong, too, and experienced and technical. I think Lopez is a good fighter. But Lomachenko is better.”
Jose Zepeda: The junior welterweight knows about amazing fights. He just had one with Ivan Baranchyk where the two knocked each other down eight times in five rounds before Zepeda finished off his opponent with a ludicrous knockout that will almost surely result in the fight of the year. But he’s not necessarily predicting the same kind of action in Lomachenko vs. Lopez. “I think Lomachenko,” Zepeda told Boxing Scene. “He’s too skillful. I would say that Teofimo has that puncher’s chance. But then again, Loma never drops his hands. It will be extremely [hard] for Teofimo to land that one punch to win the fight.”
Leo Santa Cruz: It’s been difficult to find anybody who will pick Lopez to win. But Santa Cruz, who will face Gervonta “Tank” Davis on Oct. 31 for a 130- and 135-pound title, comes close to that line. “Lomachenko is a very skillful fighter,” Santa Cruz said, via Fight Hype. “Teofimo is really good with his feet and has great power. The difference is going to be the power. Teofimo is bigger and stronger. If Teofimo catches him, he’ll hurt him and might beat him. If it goes to a decision, with Lomachenko’s experience and footwork, he could win a decision. But like I said, Teofimo has the power. [Jorge] Linares landed a good right hand and dropped [Lomachenko in 2018]. Teofimo is stronger.”
Melissa Hernandez: The former featherweight world titlist, who’s currently eyeing a comeback and wanting a fight vs. undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill, thinks Lopez isn’t experienced enough to master Lomachenko’s game. “Listen, I’m going to tell you. I think he bit off more than he could chew,” Hernandez told me recently. “Lomachenko is the truth. Teofimo is a good fighter, but he hasn’t been tested. I understand he has ‘the next coming of’ hype. But I think Loma is going to win a decision. He’s going to keep turning and turning and turning him. He’s going to do the regular Loma thing.”
Sergio Mora: When the former junior middleweight titlist and current DAZN analyst thinks about this fight, it reminds him of when Felix Trinidad fought David Reid and Fernando Vargas. Reid and Vargas were in the Lopez role, and Trinidad, the more experienced champ, was simply too much for the younger fighters. “I think that’s exactly what will happen with Teofimo Lopez. He’s a young, strong, hungry bull and a world champion,” Mora said, via DAZN. “But he’s dealing with a three-division world champion, a two-time (Olympic) gold medalist, a world champion since his third pro fight. There’s stages to this. I think it will be too much for this young bull to bite off. We know Lomachenko is more than just old-bull mentality. He fights and has the brilliant moves of a matador. You’re dealing with an old bull with matador moves. Lomachenko is too much at this point.”
Leonard Ellerbe: The CEO of Mayweather Promotions says this is a terrific bout between two excellent fighters. But he has a clear idea of who will win. “That kid is not going to beat Lomachenko,” he told the Showtime Boxing podcast. “He doesn’t have enough experience. It’s a lot to deal with Lomachenko.”