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Teofimo Lopez’s Inconsistency is His Consistent: Weekend Afterthoughts

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It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last.

Boxing is chock full of tales of fighters who did enough to win the world championship only for the judges to leave them behind as a footnote. To these eyes, using superior defense, ring generalship, and according to CompuBox a narrow edge in punches thrown and landed, Jamaine Ortiz did enough last Thursday to lay claim to the lineal junior welterweight crown.

Steve Weisfeld turned in a 9-3, or 117-111, scorecard in favor of Lopez. Tim Cheathem and David Sutherland came in closer at 7-5, or 115-113. The latter two, in a fight where neither fighter was credited with landing in double digits until the seventh (Lopez), and then again in the twelfth (both), makes some sense. 

Let’s put this out there so there is no mistake: Teofimo Lopez vs. Jamaine Ortiz stunk. It was a dreadful waste of 47 minutes, only slightly less awful than the Shakur Stevenson-Edwin De Los Santos snoozer. 

Ortiz seems to be taking the lion’s share of the blame, including from fight promoter Bob Arum. That’s not entirely unfair. Ortiz elected for a strategy of keep away, moving constantly and rarely sitting down for exchanges. It’s easy to blame the guy who brings less value to a dud fight for the stench.

It wasn’t all Ortiz’s fault. 

There are ways to get to fighters who move. Lopez didn’t do enough of them. He didn’t use his feet to cut off the ring. He didn’t employ a smart jab to try to set up offense. Lopez kept loading up on single shots and pondered cluelessly round after round with no adjustments. He fought Ortiz’s fight and fought it poorly.

That should have been rewarded. It wasn’t. Once again, Lopez was unable to string together solid performances. His inconsistency, and limited ability to game plan or adjust, isn’t just a red flag anymore. It’s a trend. 

The wins over Richard Commey, Vasyl Lomachanko, and Josh Taylor were sensational. He’s clearly got talent and physical gifts. Those are three of his last eight fights and the latter two of those wins are as good as anyone in the sport the last few years. A win over overmatched Pedro Campas didn’t count for much more than giving him a soft landing after a first defeat. 

Too many of the rest of his last eight fights were underwhelming performances. Lopez lost to a very average George Kambosos, was lucky as hell to get decisions over Sandor Martin and now Ortiz, and prior to Commey looked confused at times against Masayoshi Nakatani.     

Ortiz will get lost in the shuffle because what some saw as a superior performance was inadequate entertainment. Lopez will move forward but it’s clear that if he insists on continuing his approach to the game he will have to be matched better to show off what he does well.

Futures: For Lopez, who retained the WBO belt, that should mean revisiting an idea that crept up over the winter. A unification match with IBF titlist Subriel Matias might be the perfect tonic to wash away the Ortiz fight and it’s a good fight for both men. Lopez wants to counter punch and throw bombs. Matias doesn’t go anywhere and wants to land bombs back. It might not be the richest fight in the division, but it wouldn’t be boring. 

Lopez could also turn his sights to the winner of Devin Haney-Ryan Garcia. Regardless of his performance against Ortiz, Lopez would be an attractive opponent for that winner. Waiting for that might be better for him. So far, what we’ve seen is a fighter who gets up for big fights and makes everyone sweat the rest of the time. It’s a tightrope no one can walk for long without falling.

Cliff’s Notes…

Jose Pedraza might be shot, but Keyshawn Davis handled him the way he should have if so. Davis is still little more than a professional novice and when given the chance with a name foe he put on the right kind of show. The youngster got the win he needed the way he needed it…Jaime Munguia is as good as anybody who can face Saul Alvarez if that happens in the absence of David Benavidez. The problem is that it’s not Benavidez and he’s the only guy who really deserves a crack at the undisputed crown right now. Everything else is a weak consolation prize…Hamzah Sheeraz’s first-round knockout of Liam Williams should turn some heads. Williams went the route with Demtrius Andrade and Chris Eubank despite being dropped once by the former and four times by the latter. 

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com

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