Boxing Fans!! Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez: Fight card, date, odds, channel, start time, boxing undercard, guide. Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s lightweight unification bout. When it comes to can’t-miss championship boxing matches on the calendar, fans of the sweet science have long been frustrated by the fact they needed to reach deep into their wallets to enjoy the showdowns. That will not be the case this weekend. Saturday night inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez will meet in a highly-anticipated clash to unify the lightweight titles — and will be doing so on free television for all.
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KO) transitioned from being arguably the greatest amateur boxer in history to being put on the fast track as a professional, fighting for a world title in just his second pro bout. He would suffer a loss in that fight, dropping a split decision to Orlando Salido. He rebounded in his next fight, taking a decision over Gary Russell Jr. and winning the WBO featherweight title. He would eventually move up to junior lightweight and then to lightweight, winning belts at every weight. He currently holds the WBA and WBO world titles.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KO) didn’t enter the professional ranks with the same level of hype as Lomachenko but quickly proved himself an emerging star with a flashy style and serious skills. Aside from a flat performance in winning a decision against Masayoshi Nakatani, Lopez has impressed every time he has stepped into a ring. Most recently, Lopez won the IBF championship with a stunning second-round knockout of Richard Commey in December.
It’s going to be a busy week leading into one of the most lucrative fights of the year. CBS Sports will keep you up to date on everything going down at the MGM Grand with the latest news, top features and best bets to make for this loaded fight card on Saturday night. This page will be updated often, so be sure to bookmark it throughout the week.
Odds below provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight card, odds
Vasiliy Lomachenko (c) -420 vs. Teofimo Lopez (c) +330, IBF, WBA, WBO lightweight championship
Arnold Barboza Jr. -210 vs. Alex Saucedo +175, junior welterweights
Lomachenko vs. Lopez info
Date: Saturday, Oct. 17
Location: MGM Grand — Las Vegas, Nevada
Start time: 10 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Lomachenko vs. Lopez news, features
Campbell: Lopez staring down pressure as young challenger
WATCH: Teofimo Lopez promises KO over Vasiliy Lomachenko
Clay Collard out: Ex-UFC fighter positive for COVID-19, undercard fight scrapped
Brookhouse: Don’t believe the Lomachenko narratives
Campbell: Five reasons to love the Lomachenko-Lopez unification fight
When comparing and contrasting the skills of Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez Jr. as a means to handicap Saturday’s lightweight unification fight in Las Vegas, everything from Lomachenko’s footwork to Lopez’s one-punch knockout power need to be considered.
Yet it’s clear the biggest difference between these reigning 135-pound champions is Lomachenko’s edge in experience. Despite both fighters entering with exactly 15 pro fights apiece, the 32-year-old Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) has already won world titles in three weight divisions, including collecting three of the four recognized lightweight belts, following a legendary amateur career in the Ukraine.
It’s ultimately what we still yet don’t know about Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), a brash native of Brooklyn, New York, who captured the IBF title in December by stopping Richard Commey in his biggest fight to date, that has gone a long way in making him a betting underdog this weekend inside the MGM Grand Conference Center (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET).
For everything that Lopez brings to the table from the standpoint of flash and danger, he has very limited exposure to elite competition. Lomachenko, in contrast, fought for a world title in just his second pro fight and was able to win one in his third. A big reason why Lomachenko’s fast-tracked start as a professional wasn’t a case of too much, too soon was because of the experience he gained from being a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
But what about Lopez? How do we know that he’s truly ready to be this bold and challenge arguably the world’s top pound-for-pound boxer for a chance to become undisputed champion at just 23? Heck, how does he even know?
“I’m built different. I’m one of those that is just different,” Lopez said during an interview with “Morning Kombat” on Monday. “I step up to the plate and it’s always in my favor. That just comes with a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifices that I have made throughout my career. It’s 18 years in and still counting. It comes with all that, just the mentality part.
“[It’s also] the fact that I walk by faith and I live by it. Everything that I do is always through God and He always steers me in the right way. My time is now and that’s what I believe.”
In case you haven’t picked up on it by now, confidence isn’t something that’s lacking from the Lopez family. While Teofimo can alternate his gift of gab as a cocky trash talker when its needed with a humble smile and camera-ready charm, his father and trainer, Teofimo Sr., has absolutely no filter at all.
The only thing the elder Lopez does better than ruffle the feathers of anyone in his path is talk up how great and special his son is as a fighter. Tabbed by his father for greatness at an incredibly young age, Lopez has incredibly lived up to every expectation put on him by the man who shares his name.
A big part of that is because Lopez, a naturally gifted athlete, has embodied the unorthodox fighting style — taught to him by his untrained father — of explosive power shots from unexpected angles so perfectly. Another reason is that the younger Lopez is both unflappable and mature beyond his years at such a young age, already married and openly introspective about the ups and downs of his life following a tumultuous childhood in which his father sold drugs.
How this fight came to be
Even the manner in which the Lomachenko fight came together is a wild story that’s hard to believe and a full illustration of Lopez’s trust and love for his father despite the incredibly large target he often throws onto his son’s back.
The setting was December 2018 inside the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York. Lopez, just a 10-0 prospect who wouldn’t yet begin to gain the full attention of boxing fans until his explosive first-round knockout the next night, was finalizing his weight cut for a televised opener against Mason Menard. Lomachenko was scheduled to headline the same card in a unification fight against Jose Pedraza.
As Lopez recalls the story of what happened next, even though he wasn’t present at the time, he can’t help but laugh at his father’s proud and bold ways. The elder Lopez crossed paths with Lomachenko backstage at the weigh-in and kindly offered to shake his hand.
According to Team Lopez, the respectful gesture was met with a dirty look from Lomachenko and a cantankerous vibe.
“It got real controversial, it got real intense,” Lopez said, “people were blowing me up [saying,] ‘Yo, your father just went off on Loma.’ I was laughing.”
Enraged at the snub, Lopez’s father began to verbally accost Lomachenko with expletives and a promise that, “My son is going to knock you out. My son is going to kill you. We are going to take over the show.
The next night, Lopez’s face-first demolition of Menard was the darling of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” as a top play and became a viral online video. Although Lomachenko went on to defeat Pedraza by decision in a competitive fight, the Lopez family had announced themselves in a huge way and the son was anything but upset about the promise his father had made to the division’s best fighter.
So is this the right time for this fight?
Convincing yourself and your family that you’re ready for the very best at such a young age is one thing. Convincing everyone else is another thing altogether, which brings us back to the idea of whether fighting Lomachenko at this point will prove to be a miscalculation.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, had a similar level of doubt when the idea for this fight was first birthed around the time the elder Lopez made his presence known in Lomachenko’s face. The Hall-of-Fame promoter was ultimately forced to decide whether he should step in and delay his fighter’s ambitious plan or get out of the way.
“You get out of the way because Lopez and his father believe that he can fight Tyson Fury and beat Tyson Fury,” Arum told CBS Sports in 2019. “I get out of their way and I can’t stop the Lopez freight train. They are so confident and have so much belief in themselves. If I felt it was too soon and I told them that, they would override me.”
If recent history has anything to say about what Lopez is attempting to do at 23, the results have been mixed as to how much a failed attempt at daring to be great can prevent a young fighter from realizing their full potential.
Sugar Ray Leonard was just 24 when he lost his welterweight title to bitter rival Roberto Duran in 1980 but proved no worse for the wear by coming back just five months later to avenge the loss and make Duran quit. Canelo Alvarez was just 23 in 2013 when he lost a wide decision to Floyd Mayweather and all it did was fuel him to be even better on his road to supplanting Mayweather as the sport’s new pay-per-view king.
But there’s also former the tale of former two-time junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas who, five days shy of his own 23rd birthday, lost a 154-pound unification fight with Felix Trinidad via 12th-round TKO. Even though the fight was hailed an instant classic due to its number of combined knockdowns, Vargas suffered a brutal beating and, after a similarly violent loss to Oscar De La Hoya less than two years later, would never go on to win another meaningful fight.