One of the biggest fights of 2020 is now official after unified lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and IBF titleholder Teofimo Lopez Jr. came to terms late Wednesday for a unification targeted for Oct. 17, per an ESPN report.
This long-awaited showdown at 135 pounds, originally scheduled for Oct. 3, hit a roadblock when the 23-year-old Lopez balked at the financial offer from promoter Top Rank. Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) reportedly kicked in money from his guaranteed purse to make the deal happen.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs), the brash slugger who stands as one of boxing's biggest rising stars, is expected to earn as much as $1.5 million, according to The Athletic, which originally reported the completed deal. The purse was an improvement from the original offer of $1.25 million. The 32-year-old Lomachenko initially agreed to take home $3.5 million but reduced his purse to $3.25 million.
The fight will take place inside the empty MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas where Top Rank and ESPN have set up a "bubble" to counteract the coronavirus pandemic. Although the lack of a live gate limited the amount of money at stake, both fighters wanted to press forward and multiple sites reported the fight is now being targeted to air nationally on ESPN instead of the original plan of pay-per-view.
A perennial contender for the title of pound-for-pound king since he turned pro in 2013 and boldly fought for a world title in his second pro bout, Lomachenko went on to claim titles in three divisions and currently holds three of the four recognized lightweight titles (WBC, WBA, WBO). His footwork and wizard-level mastery of technique is expected to be challenged by Lopez's unorthodox and explosive ways, which have drawn comparisons to a young Roy Jones Jr.
The two fighters also don't like each other in a beef which began in 2018 when Lopez's outspoken father and trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., verbally accosted Lomachenko inside the Theater at Madison Square Garden and told the two-time Olympic gold medalist that his son would knock him out.
"My energy doesn't like his energy," the younger Lopez told CBS Sports in April. "It just started getting bigger and I saw how he was to other people. I was like, 'F--- this guy, personally.
"I'm going to enjoy knocking him the f--- out and not feel any remorse whatever. There's business and then there is personal. This right here is personal. I just don't like the dude. I don't like how he says things and don't like how he is."
The elder Lopez echoed those statements to BoxingScene.com on Wednesday.
"How do you like my prediction from two years ago," Lopez Sr. said. "It was supposed to happen. God has not given me this vision for no reason. That's exactly what's happening. My son ain't scared of nobody. He's from another freakin' planet. I asked him once to tell me the truth when I asked him, 'Do you get scared when you go to the ring?' He said, 'No, dad, I get excited to put on a big show.' He belongs in boxing and you guys are going to see who the real deal is."