On Saturday night, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez will attempt to unify the lightweight (135-pound) division when they square off inside The Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in one of the most anticipated fights of 2020 (ESPN, 10 ET). Lomachenko (14-1) is the veteran, a 32-year old two-time Olympic gold medalist who in a short pro career has won titles in three different weight classes. Lopez (15-0) is the young upstart, a brash, 23-year old 2016 Olympian who won his first world title last year.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and Greg Bishop make their picks:
Mannix: There’s no logical reason to pick against Lomachenko. He’s arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world who is 4-0 since he moved up to lightweight in 2018 and started collecting titles. But there is just something about Loma at 135-pounds. He was stretched the distance by Jose Pedraza and Luke Campbell. Jorge Linares knocked him down. At 126 and 130, Lomachenko is unbeatable. At 135, he is vulnerable. And Lopez is a good 135-pounder, the best Loma has faced. He has size, power with both hands and is just oozing confidence. I don’t think Lopez can win a decision against Lomachenko—Loma is just too active and too accurate. But I think he can catch Lomachenko, and if he does, he’ll end it. Lopez by late KO.
Bishop: All of boxing gets funny as a big fight approaches. like we're looking at it through funhouse mirrors. Holes are poked in the favorite, theories floated, statistics slanted to one viewpoint or another. Which is why I'm picking Lomachenko to win this bout. There's enough to start to lean the other way, for sure. Lomachenko is nine years older than Lopez. He fought 400 times almost before he turned pro. He has, not struggled exactly, but not looked as intimidating, after moving up in weight. He suffered his first knockdown at 135 and went the distance twice in the four fights since taking on larger opponents, like Lopez, who has a three-inch reach advantage that could be significant. So, yeah, I can start to believe that Lopez might win, that this isn't a mismatch, that taking on a fighter of Lomachenko's caliber at age 23 is a good idea, not a bad one. But usually when I convince myself that a fight will be close just by looking closely at it, I'm wrong. Which is why I believe the first instinct is correct. Lomachenko, by decision.