Does Teofimo Lopez have what it takes to solve Vasiliy Lomachenko?

LAS VEGAS - Vasiliy Lomachenko sat at the ring in Madison Square Garden on December 14, 2019, seconds after Teofimo Lopez knocked out Richard Commey and prepared a fight between the two for the undisputed lightweight championship.
The rivals, who have been on a collision course in the lobby of a New York hotel since Lopez's father two nights before Lomachenko's fight against Jose Pedraza in 2018, will meet at the MGM Grand Conference Center on Saturday for WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF Belt.
Lopez's win was typically dramatic. He caught Comey with a blazing right hand that ended the fight in every way. Commey managed to get up and the umpire somehow decided to continue the fight.
Few better finishers in the sport than Teofimo Andres Lopez Jr., and the then 22-year-old grimly set out to finish Commey and win the IBF Belt.
He did his traditional winning backflip in the ring wearing Joe Burrow's No. 9 LSU jersey about an hour after Burrow won the Heisman Trophy.
It was an electrifying display in Lopez's second round, and a big reason Yahoo Sports named it Prospectus of the Year in both 2017 and 2018.
As usual, Lomachenko took it stoically and then stepped into the ring to pose for the photos with Lopez. The big fight was on, and Lomachenko posed with Lopez, grinning mischievously.
He had his scouting report.
Vasiliy Lomachenko pictured will fight Teofimo Lopez in Las Vegas on Saturday. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes, File)
"I saw everything I had to see in the first round," Lomachenko told Yahoo Sports months later.
Lopez won the first round of that fight on Julie Lederman and Steve Weisfeld's cards, while Commey took it on Eric Marlinski's cards.
Boxing is a show for Lopez, who calls himself an entertainer and believes the fight is only part of the story. He's known as something of a trash talker, and while he's not against a Gibe every now and then, he's not too outrageous about it. It is his father, Teofimo Lopez Sr., who is uttering the insults at an alarming rate.
Lomachenko, a -400 favorite at BetMGM, is almost like a light-footed machine, a boxer who sees a smile in the ring as a sign of weakness. Numerous boxing fans and the media are trying to conduct a psychoanalysis of the fighters' final public appearance at the press conference on Wednesday at MGM.
The fighters sat on opposite sides of ESPN host Joe Tessitore, who interviewed them and tried to make them aware of their rivalry.
Lomachenko had little to say and showed little emotion. But that's almost always how he's in public. He is uncomfortable with being around reporters or talking about himself and has little to say.
If either Lopez has come to him with his mockery, he does a good job of hiding him.
"English is not my language," said Lomachenko. "Most of the time I don't even know what he's saying."
The fight is decided where and how it should, not by emotions, but by the fighters themselves in the middle of the ring.
Lomachenko is unlike most boxers before him in history. His footwork was forged from years of dance classes in Ukraine. He moves with ease, creating angles to throw his punches from angles his opponents are not used to. As a result, they are hit clean far more often than normal.
Former world champion Andre Ward, who will be calling the fight for ESPN, said as he was preparing for his rematch with Sergiy Kovalev in 2017, he thought long and hard about Lomachenko's style.
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"It's informal," said Ward, noting that Lomachenko would adjust to the requirements at any time.
He is difficult to hit and often tires opponents, lets them miss and then counters with hard blows that they cannot see. Lopez Sr. noted, however, that he was dropped by Jorge Linares and that it was one of many bouts in which the two-time Olympic gold medalist was badly hit.
"I hear all of this [expletive] about you that you can't touch Lomachenko, and that's all [expletive] is from people who don't know what the [expletive] they're talking about," said Lopez Sr.. “A lot of people have touched him. Linares hit his ass. And none of these guys he fought hits like my son. My son hits him with some of these punches and he will go to dreamland. "
Lopez, who is 15-0 with 12 KOs, is not just a puncher who seeks and destroys. He has the power in his hands to end any fight in one fell swoop, but he is athletic enough and intuitively understands how to move around the ring that he can box when circumstances require.
In Lomachenko, however, he encounters a master who is best at making his opponents look awkward and amateurish.
Lomachenko is an unusually slow starter, so Lopez needs to get out quickly and try to get Lomachenko out of his comfort zone. That means putting him in the corner and fighting along the ropes.
Lopez doesn't use a thrust often, which would be a great weapon against Lomachenko, especially to get the fight out of the middle of the ring. The longer the fight stays in the middle, the more it will favor Lomachenko.
It seems that this is Lomachenko's struggle for victory. Lopez has not fought anyone remotely similar to Lomachenko, and most of his opposition has been limited on mobility and boxing IQ.
Lopez is good enough to win this fight. But Lomachenko's superior boxing skills, his genius in the ring, and his big feet should lead him to a unanimous decision victory.
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