It’s Monday, and we are fresh off what was an interesting and, to some people, surprising (a good portion of media and insiders picked Josh Taylor to win this past weekend) results from the Hulu Theater inside the Madison Square Garden. Just as my prediction column earlier in the week read, Teofimo Lopez (19-1, 13 KOs) scored the decision victory over former champion Josh Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs). It was a fight with an already electric crowd buzzing throughout the night, and Lopez was moving like a Matador as Taylor’s punches were not landing due to Lopez’s elusiveness. I’m sure it looked worse on the broadcast but watching it from ringside gave you a different appreciation for the level that Lopez performed at on Saturday night.
Although no post-fight press conference was scheduled, Lopez hopped over the railing and spoke to the media as he wanted to confront many who felt he could not pull off the victory. Lopez was open about how hard it was to get to this moment where he has become the lineal champion in two different weight classes and the legal battle he still has to overcome outside of the ring with his soon-to-be ex-wife. It’s a lot for anyone, especially a 25-year-old fighter who had fame come to him fast and early in his career. Towards the end of the impromptu post-fight conference, Lopez said he was retiring from the sport so he could focus on the things going on in his personal life. A statement that no one was prepared to hear, especially after that outstanding performance.
Everyone chalked it up as him just having a lot of emotions going through his head until earlier today when he spoke to Max Kellerman. Lopez told Kellerman, “I’m going to be announcing my retirement from the sport of boxing. Blood, sweat, and tears I’ve done for the sport at a young age, at 25 years young, and I believe the first male to become two-time undisputed champion in a four-belt era.” Lopez later said, “Right now, I’m just thinking about — I have a lot of ideas. I have a lot of things in mind for the sport of boxing, and I really can’t do that if I’m always in the gym, training, preparing for another upcoming fight or bout. So, I’m really now just focusing on that task.”
The first thing everyone thinks is that Lopez is saying that to keep the heat on his victory and that he is a free agent according to all the pre-fight interviews where he mentioned this was the last fight with Top Rank. I am one of the skeptics, so if he is truly retiring, then the WBO should have been formally contacted to vacate his title right? I reached out to the WBO President Paco Valcarcel, Esq. and asked him if Team Lopez has done such a thing, and he replied with “Nope.” That’s not to say that he won’t in the future but with all of this retirement conversation, he has yet to inform the WBO about his future, so until that happens, Lopez isn’t “retired.”
On Saturday night, Lopez beat the man who beat the man and therefore earned the title of lineal champion for the second time. Does he deserve some time off to handle his personal affairs? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t call it a retirement unless he officially vacates the WBO and Ring Magazine titles.