Teofimo Lopez to Fight Masayoshi Nakatani July 19 in Maryland
Teofimo Lopez, the fast-rising lightweight prospect whose incessant trash talk directed at Vasiliy Lomachenko led to Lomachenko declaring “I’m going to hold him accountable in that fight for every word that has been said,” dissapointingly won’t be fighting Loma next. Instead, he will face undefeated thirty-year-old Japanese fighter Masayoshi Nakatani July 19 in Maryland. The winner of this fight will be next in line for a shot at Richard Commey and his IBF lightweight belt. This will be Nakatani’s first ever fight outside of Japan, and Lopez will undoubtedly be a huge favorite.
Richard Commey to Fight Ray Beltran
Speaking of Richard Commey, he will very likely be fighting former WBO lightweight champion Ray Beltran June 28 on ESPN. Beltran had moved up to 140 after losing his title and a shot at Lomachenko to Jose Pedraza in August but will come back to 135 to face the IBF champion from Ghana. Beltran’s story about sleeping on couches while serving as a Pacquiao sparring partner and constantly being at risk of deportation was always compelling, but more than that his fighting style has always been exciting. As long as Commey’s hand is fine, this fight should be good.
WBC Orders Lomachenko-Campbell for Vacant Lightweight Belt
Vasiliy Lomachenko won’t have to get in the ring with Mikey Garcia to take his belt. While it was expected that Luke Campbell would fight Devin Haney for the WBC title Garcia abandoned, instead Campbell will have to face Lomachenko, who will look to add the WBC belt to the WBO and WBA lightweight belts he already owns. Like Lomachenko, Campbell was an Olympic gold medalist but as a professional, he has two losses: decisions to Yvan Mendy and Jorge Linares. Supposedly the fight will take place in England, which will give Campbell a hometown advantage he will very likely need.
The WBC also ordered a four-man tournament to determine the winner of that fight’s mandatory opponent. The four fighters in that tournament are Devin Haney, Javier Fortuna, Zaur Abdullaev and Teofimo Lopez. That means if Lopez gets past Nakatani, he will have to decide between competing in a four-man tournament to become the mandatory WBC challenger or facing Richard Commey for the IBF title. Bob Arum said Lopez has no interest in the WBC tournament, telling Boxingscene.com “We already have plans for Teofimo Lopez that don’t involve the WBC at this moment. We respect that the WBC has a job to do in ordering these fights and establishing mandatory challengers. But right now, we are taking (Lopez) in a different direction.”
But I wouldn’t be so sure. The Commey fight is a guaranteed title shot, but the four-man WBC tournament shows a clear path to a Lomachenko fight. Lopez’s trash talk towards Lomachenko would be far more compelling if he held the IBF belt but the fight wouldn’t be a certainty, but the four-man tournament would all but guarantee a shot at Lomachenko in two fights. It will be interesting to see what he does. It should also be noted that the WBC has ruled Mikey Garcia can come back and challenge for the WBC belt anytime he wants, but it’s very unlikely he could make 135 again after ballooning to 147 to fight Errol Spence Jr.
Injury Postpones Oleksandr Usyk’s Heavyweight Debut
While some consider Oleksandr Usyk the future of heavyweight boxing, that future was pushed back a few months this week. Usyk had to postpone his May 25th bout with Carlos Takam this week after he tore his right bicep training for the fight. As a result, Devin Haney versus Antonio Moran will move to the main event spot on the May 25 card in Oxon Hill, Maryland, while Usyk will most likely recover in time to make his heavyweight debut in either August or September.
Oscar Valdez to face Jason Sanchez after WBO Refuses to Sanction Valdez Against Erick Ituarte
After the WBO shot down Oscar Valdez defending his title against Erick Ituarte, Valdez will instead be fighting Jason Sanchez on ESPN June 8. Ituarte was not in the top 15 of the WBO’s official rankings, which is why they shot down the fight. However, many boxing experts don’t think this fight is any more competitive than the bout against Ituarte would have been.
Spence-Porter to Air Free on Fox
Maybe DAZN hasn’t been lying when they claimed to have killed off PPV. Errol Spence and Shawn Porter are looking to fight sometime around Aug. 3, but while the date hasn’t been made official supposedly it has officially been decided the fight will air for free on FOX, not on PPV. Interestingly, Garcia-Spence sold 360,000 PPVs so it isn’t as though Spence can’t sell fights, and this fight should be far more competitive than that one based on Porter’s size alone. Maybe this is a sign that fewer and fewer fights are destined for PPV in the era of DAZN, which would great.
DAZN Releases Canelo-Jacobs Numbers
Speaking of DAZN, in their first big Canelo fight on Cinco de Mayo weekend, the streaming service apparently did quite well. It has been reported that 600,000 streams in the United States and 1.2 million streams worldwide aired the fight. Obviously you can’t directly compare those numbers to $70 PPVs, and the question remains of how many DAZN viewers exclusively signed up for one month knowing the Canelo fight was happening and will cut the service now that the fight is done remains, but those are good numbers for DAZN in an event they needed to do well.