Lopez dominated early and ended the strong Saturday night to win a 12-round unanimous decision over Lomachenko to reunite the easy titles in a fight he was calling for despite some thought he was not skilled enough.
Lopez took advantage of Lomachenko’s slow start to build an early lead and ended the bout with a big round 12 that left Lomachenko bloody and beaten on the scorecards. The 23-year-old from Brooklyn became the unified lightweight champion and managed to do what few in boxing thought possible – Outbox perhaps the best technician in boxing.
Lopez (16-0) added Lomachenko’s (15-2) three titles to the belt he won last year to become the undisputed 135 champion.
Lopez was preferred 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112 on ring scorecards in a fanless bout at the MGM Grand Conference Center. The Associated Press had Lopez win 117-111.
Lopez turned out to be faster and stronger than 32-year-old Lomachenko, who won two Olympic gold medals as an amateur and was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters as a professional. Surprisingly, he was the better boxer too, proving that he could end the show by bleeding Lomachenko’s eye on round 12.
“I had to dig deep, man,” said Lopez. “I’m a fighter, I have to dig deep.”
Lomachenko, usually a slow starter, was too slow this time as he gave away laps early on trying to figure out Lopez’s style. By the time the fight became competitive in the eighth round it was too far back to come back.
“He’s got a 14 month layoff,” said Lopez. “I knew it would take him a long time to catch up.”
Lomachenko, who had lost only once in almost 400 amateur fights and had only one defeat as a professional, believed he would do better than the stated scorecards.
“In any case, I disagree with the scorecards,” he said.
The fight was the biggest since the pandemic began and would have been a pay-per-view event in normal times. But without fans, it aired on ESPN and gave boxing a bigger showcase than it would otherwise have gotten.
Lomachenko was a 4-1 favorite but looked rusty early on trying to break Lopez’s style. He threw sparse punches in the first half of the fight and only landed 31 punches in the first seven rounds before finally accelerating in the eighth round.
“I think in the first half of the fight he got more rounds than me, but in the second half of the fight I took over,” said Lomachenko. “I was much better.”
Stroke statistics showed Lopez landed 183 of 659 strokes while Lomachenko got 141 of 321. In the 12th round, Lopez knocked Lomachenko out at 50:19, opening a cut that ran blood down his face and caused Referee Russell Mora to end the bout 10 seconds left for the ring doctor to look at her before continuing .
Lopez was told by his father in the corner before the 12th round that he was ahead and shouldn’t risk anything. But he came out strong and hit Lomachenko all the way.
“I didn’t know if they had him on the scorecards or not,” said Lopez.
Lopez made his trademark backflip in the ring after the unanimous decision was announced.
Lopez became the youngest fighter to become a four-belt champion in his second title bout. He had sought a fight against Lomachenko and angered the Ukrainian with his bold tactics.
“I love to fight and I can beat too,” said Lopez. “That’s what a true champion does. I’ll go out there and find a way to win. ”
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