Unified lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko faces fellow titleholder Teofimo Lopez Jr. in the main event of a Top Rank card Saturday night at the MGM Grand Convention Center in Las Vegas (ESPN and ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET).
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), the WBO and WBA titleholder and WBC “franchise” champion, puts his belts on the line against IBF titlist Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), in a widely anticipated matchup between the two best fighters in the division.
Lomachenko, 32, won the WBA belt in a seventh-round TKO victory over Jorge Linares in May 2018. Seven months later he added the WBO belt in a unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza. Lomachenko won the WBC belt in a decision win over Luke Campbell in 2019, but two months after that he was stripped of the belt by the WBC and instead named the organization “franchise” champ. WBC interim titleholder Devin Haney was promoted to full titleholder. The WBC initially said that the “franchise” belt wouldn’t be something to fight for, but have recently reversed course.
The fight is one of the best matchups that could be made in boxing, but will not have fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Lomachenko says he won’t be affected by it.
“I think it’s just a ring and judges and TV. That’s it. And, of course, four belts,” Lomachenko said during a news conference Wednesday. “For me, I think it will be a chess match.”
Lopez echoed Lomachenko’s feelings about the lack of fans — one of the few things they agree on.
“A true champion can adapt to everything,” Lopez said. “It goes for both of us. He fought in arenas sold out. I fought in arenas sold out. My job and my thing are having all of these belts wrapped around me.”
Lopez, 23, scored an impressive second-round TKO of Richard Commey last December to win his belt and set up the unification fight against Lomachenko.
“Hard work pays off. Eighteen years in, and it’s just the beginning,” Lopez said. “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
In the co-main event, Arnold Barboza Jr. takes on Alex Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) in a 10-round, junior welterweight battle. Barboza (24-0, 10 KOs) has won three of his past five fights by stoppage. He scored a one-sided unanimous decision win against Tony Luis in August at the Top Rank bubble.
Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) has won two fights in a row since suffering the only loss of his career challenging Maurice Hooker for the WBO world title in 2018.
KO machine Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) meets Lanell Bellows (20-5-3, 13 KOs)in an eight-round super middleweight bout. Berlanga hasn’t seen Round 2 yet as he has won all of his pro fights by first-round stoppage. Bellows has never been stopped in his professional career.
Also on the card, Josue Vargas (17-1, 9 KOs) and Kendo Castaneda (17-2, 8 KOs) face off in 10-round junior welterweight fight, and Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas (19-1, 10 KOs) meets John Vincent Moralde (23-3, 13 KOs) in a featherweight bout scheduled for eight rounds.
Steve Kim recaps the fights as they happen in Las Vegas.
Fight in progress: Quinton Randall vs. Jan Carlos Rivera, 6 rounds, welterweights
Tucker stays unbeaten with unanimous decision win
In the opening bout of the night, welterweight Jahi Tucker notched his second professional victory by pitching a four-round shutout of Charles Garner. All three judges saw the fight 40-36 for Tucker.
While the scorecards were wide in favor of Tucker (2-0, 1 KOs), it wasn’t a scintillating performance. Tucker was the more active fighter and he consistently outworked Garner throughout the fight, but Garner (1-1) had his moments.
What this fight really showed was that Tucker, 17, still has a ways to go in terms of his professional development.
Still to come:
Title fight: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez, 12 rounds, for Lomachenko’s WBO and WBA lightweight titles and Lopez’s IBF lightweight title
Arnold Barboza Jr. vs. Alex Saucedo, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Edgar Berlanga vs. Lanell Bellows, 8 rounds, super middleweights
Josue Vargas vs. Kendo Castaneda, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas vs. John Vincent Moralde, 8 rounds, featherweights
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