June 14, 2021

Teofimo Lopez: I’ll Take Haney Fight Just To Shut Him Up, Destroy His Career

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LAS VEGAS – Teofimo Lopez is confident he has earned undisputed status in the lightweight division by beating Vasiliy Lomachenko convincingly Saturday night.

Lopez mockingly refers to Devin Haney as an “email champion” because Haney won the WBC’s interim championship and was elevated to world champion without beating anyone other than Zaur Abdullaev for a vacant title. If Lopez opts to remain at the lightweight limit, though, he’d gladly face Haney next to settle their championship dispute in the ring.

“If I took that fight, it’s just for bragging rights, just to shut him up and destroy his career,” Lopez said during a post-fight press conference Saturday night at MGM Grand. “That’s really what it is. I don’t care. That’s the type of person I am. I’m not here to see another fighter build up his career. If he wants to take that step and fight, I’m more than happy to just take him out that route of what everybody’s talking about, saying [he is] the next Floyd Mayweather and stuff like that. Yeah, get outta here with that bullsh-t.”

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The 21-year-old Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) is scheduled to make another optional defense of his WBC world lightweight crown against Yuriorkis Gamboa on November 7 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida (DAZN). The Cuban-born Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) has won world titles in three weight classes, but he is 38 and was knocked down three times in last fight, a 12th-round, technical-knockout defeat to Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) last December 28 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) anticipates Haney beating Gamboa easily, yet that won’t make him more of a legitimate champion in the 23-year-old Lopez’s mind.

“I don’t mind beating the two-time email world champion,” Lopez said. “You know what I mean? That’ll be fine, you know? I know a lot of people are already saying that this [win against Lomachenko is] not for undisputed because of that, [WBC president] Mauricio Sulaiman and whatever he did. But I just got a belt that said, ‘franchise world champion,’ from the WBC. And you’ve got a guy like Devin Haney fighting Gamboa, a washed-out Gamboa, just for a record that he wants to keep it safe and pretty. I could fight those guys [Haney, others]. I don’t mind it.”

Lopez won the WBC franchise championship from Lomachenko, in addition to taking the WBA “super” and WBO belts from him. Lopez also retained his IBF lightweight crown.

Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) defeated England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) by 12-round unanimous decision to win the then-vacant WBC world lightweight title in August 2019 at O2 Arena in London.

Less than two weeks after Lomachenko beat Campbell, Las Vegas’ Haney stopped Russia’s Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs) following the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. The WBC elevated Haney from interim title-holder to world champion once it designated Lomachenko as its franchise champion, a distinction it introduced in June 2019.

Lopez hopes he is wrong, but he doesn’t think Haney will fight him after beating Gamboa. He also has appealing options in the junior welterweight division, so he won’t wait around for Haney or any other lightweight.

“I don’t care,” Lopez said. “I don’t think any of these guys will step up to the plate. And if they do, they better be ready because I don’t fear no man. I told you guys this. I don’t care. I’m in there to fight, and if you’re not there to fight with me, you’re gonna lose, like Loma.” 

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.