Ranking the 5 Best Opponents for Teofimo Lopez After Win vs. Pedro Campa

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured Columnist IIIAugust 14, 2022

Ranking the 5 Best Opponents for Teofimo Lopez After Win vs. Pedro Campa

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Ladies and gentlemen, Teofimo Lopez is in the building.

    Again.

    The ex-lightweight champion and self-proclaimed "Takeover" artist returned to the ring Saturday night and handled his business after a nine-month hiatus, dispatching little-known Mexican veteran Pedro Campa in seven rounds at Resorts World in Las Vegas.

    It was Lopez's first action since dropping his three championships in the 135-pound weight class to George Kambosos Jr. by a disputed (by him, mostly) split decision at Madison Square Garden.

    He'd spent many of the subsequent 259 days suggesting he'd been done in by a conspiracy rather than his Australian opponent. Lopez then appeared against Campa after weighing in at 138¾ pounds—the second heaviest of his career and a signal that he'd abandoned his natural weight class to campaign full-time as a junior welterweight/super lightweight.

    The victory came atop an ESPN-televised card and predictably kick-started chatter about what might come next on the 2020 Boxing Writers Association of America fighter of the year's competitive agenda.

    "I'll take all them boys and take all their dreams away," he said after the bout. "I'll be their nightmare."

    B/R's combat sports team happily jumped into that fray and composed a list of the five best possible opponents for Lopez, based on their availability, level of competition and the potential significance of a would-be fight, among other things.

    Scroll through to see what we came up with, and drop a thought or two of your own in the comments.

5. Adrien Broner

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    OK, we'll concede. One guy needs this fight way more than the other.

    It wasn't too, too long ago that Adrien Broner was in Lopez's position near the top of the boxing heap, thanks to championships in multiple weight classes and a polarizing persona that elicited particularly strong feelings from fans and media.

    He was 27-0 and held a welterweight title belt in the summer of 2013 but lost his jewelry in a shocker to Marcos Maidana. Broner is just 7-3-1 in 11 fights since, as his effectiveness has waned and his in-ring circus act has worn thin.

    Nevertheless, yet another career reboot is underway these days, and The Problem is set to meet Omar Figueroa Jr. on a Showtime card on Aug. 20 in Hollywood, Florida.

    A win against a fellow ex-lightweight title claimant will inch him closer to the mainstream and boost the possibility of a Lopez bout, though promotional allegiances could be an issue.

    Broner is linked to the Premier Boxing Champions apparatus while Lopez is affiliated with Top Rank, but Lopez did suggest some interest in an interview with FightHype.com.

    "If that ever comes about, then that'll be something that we talk about," he said.

    "I like Broner a lot. I respect him as a fighter, and I respect him as a man. ... If that ever comes about, that'll be in due time."

4. Gervonta Davis

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    Tayfun CoÅkun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    This one has been on the stovetop for a while, though it's seemed to move frequently from the front burners to the back.

    Gervonta Davis has held titles of various worth at 130, 135 and 140 pounds and was one of a handful of fighters—as was Lopez—expected to dominate the lightweight ranks for years.

    Those plans have dissolved thanks to Lopez's move and other factors, but the idea that Tank could be a foil for Lopez has never fully disappeared.

    Footage of the two sparring as teenagers has generated nearly 4 million YouTube views, and Lopez told FightHype in May that he'd take Davis on at 140 to avenge a KO loss suffered by his friend Rolando Romero in a title bout at 135.

    Davis is 2-0 with two KOs in fights where he weighed in heavier than 135.

    His business future is unclear, though, following suggestions earlier this year that he'd leave Mayweather Promotions and subsequent signs that they're still working together.

    "[It'd be] a great fight. I ain't even going to say [how the fight would play out]," Lopez said of a hypothetical fight with Davis. "I'm going to do what I do best, and that's win."

3. Regis Prograis

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    Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller

    Regis Prograis is trying to get back where he's already been.

    The New Orleans native was on the rise as an unbeaten 140-pound titleholder three years ago but lost his belt in a gripping unification match with Josh Taylor. Prograis has been facing lesser opposition ever since while trying to get back into championship position.

    Winning a duel with Lopez would certainly advance his cause.

    The 33-year-old has beaten Juan Heraldez (third-round TKO), Ivan Redkach (sixth-round TKO) and Tyrone McKenna (sixth-round TKO) in his post-Taylor action. He again threw his hat into the prospective Lopez opponent ring during a Friday appearance on SiriusXM's At The Fights.

    "Prograis told us he would love to face Teofimo," host Randy Gordon, also a former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission, told Bleacher Report.

    "Very interesting bout. I pick Regis."

    Prograis has been chatting up the idea of a Lopez fight for several years, dating back to when Lopez defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020 and suggested 140 was in his future.

    “Let it happen,” Prograis said on the Ak & Barak Show (h/t Keith Idec of Boxing Scene).

    "You know, let's do it. You know, if he wants to come to 140 and test the waters out, I think I'm the perfect person. You know, I think it'll be a very explosive fight. Let's do it. It's crazy—we've got a video on YouTube about it. Me and his daddy actually talked about it."

2. Josh Taylor

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    Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc

    Lopez has made no bones about it.

    After already reigning at 135, he wants to be a world champion at 140, too.

    And that makes Josh Taylor a wanted man.

    The unbeaten Scotsman was once the undisputed champ of the division and is still in possession of the IBF and WBO straps.

    He's not fought since escaping Glasgow with a split decision over Jack Catterall in February, which he earned with margins of 114-111 and 113-112 on two scorecards while losing by a 113-112 count on the third. That bout had originally been scheduled for December 2021 before an injury moved it back two months.

    Nonetheless, Taylor is certainly on Lopez's mind.

    "That's the guy that I want to fight next," Lopez told FightHype. "I would like to fight him next and just basically become a champion and become a two-time undisputed world champion."

    Lopez is fifth in the WBO rankings at 140, and he suggested on The Good Fight with Kate Abdo in April that negotiations for a Taylor fight had already begun. Both he and Taylor are promoted by Top Rank, which should make a deal easier to strike than some others.

    "We’re trying to make me and Taylor for undisputed," he said.

    Top Rank CEO Bob Arum floated the Taylor-Lopez idea last fall before Taylor's match with Catterall.

    "I'll give Teofimo a fight at 140 against somebody else in February," he told Darren Johnstone of The Herald, "and then hopefully in the spring, we'll be able to match Josh Taylor and Teofimo."

1. Ryan Garcia

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    Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

    He's not the champion, but he is the man.

    Though he's never had a world title fight or flung a belt across his shoulder, Ryan Garcia is at or near the top of every "I want to fight..." list compiled by high-profile operators at 140.

    And Lopez is no different.

    Both Lopez and Arum have suggested a fight with Garcia is a priority, and Garcia's promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, was in Las Vegas on Saturday night, presumably to till pre-fight ground.

    Garcia is the sport's reigning social media king thanks to his 1.22 million subscribers on YouTube and 9 million followers on Instagram, and it's that gravitas that's made him a high-profile target in spite of a resume that features zero wins over any current top-10 fighters.

    Not surprisingly, that raises the ire of championship-level fighters like Lopez.

    "He is happy about his last performance (against Javier Fortuna), so he feels he can take on everyone," Lopez said of Garcia to Juan Sarcos of Marca. "He feels like Superman, but in reality, he's his own kryptonite."

    Arum said during the Campa fight week that Garcia is a fight he can probably get made.

    "Oscar and I have a long history together, and if Oscar is interested in making that fight, I certainly would entertain it, and we can sit down and talk," he told Marcos Villegas of Fight Hub TV (h/t Manouk Akopyan of Boxing Scene).

    "But I'm not going off of what any particular fighter says. If his promoter comes to me and says let's talk business, then given our past relationships, I think it would be relatively easy to make that fight."

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