Lopez Hopes Of Fighting Crawford Vanish After ‘Gift’ Win Over Ortiz

February 9, 2024
2 weeks
Teofimo Lopez

In the lead-up to his WBO junior-welterweight title defense against Jamaine Ortiz, Teofimo Lopez Jr. spoke openly about his desire to fight pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford next.

At the time, it was a fight that carried plenty of appeal. Lopez’s star was back on the rise thanks to one of the best performances of his career last June when he handed former undisputed junior-welterweight king Josh Taylor the first loss of his career to become a two-weight world champion.

Lopez also made it clear before Thursday’s fight in Las Vegas that he is determined to fight the best in order to secure a legacy that would see him remembered alongside the likes of Roberto Duran.

After claiming the win over Ortiz, the Brooklyn fighter doubled down on his ambitions to face Crawford, saying in the ring: “Glory is next for me. None of these guys want to fight me. I’ll fight Crawford at a catchweight. I’m here. I’m ready. I’ve always been ready. I’m younger, prettier, and a two-time unified champion at 25.”

The problem is, Lopez was so unconvincing and unimpressive against Ortiz that any appeal a potential fight with Crawford might have had has all but vanished.

Mega-fights are only made possible when there’s enough money on the table to satisfy both fighters. That money can only be generated if there’s sufficient fan interest to buy tickets and order Pay-Per-View. After Thursday’s lackluster display, is anyone really that interested in Lopez vs Crawford at catchweight? Outside of Team Lopez, that would be a universal no.

Most importantly, Crawford is clearly in no mood to share the ring with Lopez. Shortly before the judges awarded the win to Lopez – when many fans thought Ortiz might have won – Crawford wrote on X: “Talked all that s**t about me and lost. Like I told him focus on who you fighting not me. @TeofimoLopez back to the drawing board you go chump.”

Immediately after Lopez had his arm raised in victory, Crawford responded: “He got a gift and he know it that’s why he crying. Catch weight what? This guy is crazy, but he knows what’s up he just trying to use my name for promotion.”

Whatever his motivation, Lopez needs to be aware that any hopes of facing Crawford next are dead, following a fight so unentertaining that fans were booing throughout the final few rounds and during Lopez’s post-fight interview. Lopez hit back by saying the fans could “suck a d**k” – hardly a way to expand his following.

‘The Takeover’ constantly struggled to unpick Ortiz’s defense, landing just 78 punches – his fewest in a 12-round fight. Ortiz was also constantly on the move, refusing to allow Lopez to cut off the ring and frustrating the champion’s ability to land heavy shots.

The challenger’s game plan, while hardly ambitious, exposed Lopez’s limitations. Whether through bad advice or his own refusal to adapt, Lopez can be too one-dimensional, and when Plan A is not working – as it did so effectively at lightweight against Vasiliy Lomachenko – he can look short of ideas and alternative options.

It’s also debatable whether his explosive power at 135lbs has transferred to junior-welterweight; Lopez has fought three times in the heavier division and has gone the distance each time.

That is to say, none of it would cause any concern to Crawford in the slightest. The WBC, WBA, and WBO welterweight champion is perhaps the most well-rounded fighter on the planet at present. As witnessed in his ferocious beatdown of Errol Spence Jr. last year, Crawford has speed, power, accuracy, movement, and intelligence. If there are any weaknesses, none of his 40 opponents have been able to expose them; based on the most recent evidence, Lopez wouldn’t be able to either.

Unification against Haney?

With the Crawford fight dead in the water, Lopez’s attention should turn towards his rivals at junior-welterweight. The four world titles in the division are evenly spread so there are three potential options for unification; Subriel Matias holds the IBF strap, Rolando Romero is the WBA champ, and Devin Haney is in possession of the WBC belt.

Romero is ruled out as Lopez’s next opponent as the American is fighting Isaac Cruz in March, while reports claim Matias is in talks for a homecoming to Puerto Rico against Australia’s Liam Paro in the early summer.

Could that therefore tee up a massive all-American fight with Haney? Lopez insisted ahead of Thursday’s bout that he would be open to a unification against his fellow former unified lightweight champion, telling Sky Sports: “Maybe we will do a unification bout. That’s up to them on their side.”

Haney’s only post on social media after Lopez’s fight against Ortiz was to declare himself “da king of 140”.

Whoever Lopez fights next, one thing is for certain: it won’t be Crawford.