Teofimo Lopez Ready for Return of 'The Takeover’ Against Steve Claggett

“The Takeover” Teofimo Lopez returns this week, and he has been matched with an opponent to bring out the best in him.

Lopez is 26 years old and has already been the top fighter in two weight classes. He’s 20-1 (13 KOs), considers himself a future Hall of Famer even if he was to retire today, and on Saturday (June 29) at the James L. Knight Center in Miami defends his WBO junior-welterweight title against Steve Claggett.

After a disappointing fight with Jamaine Ortiz in February, the idea is for Lopez to look as good as he believes he is against the 38-7-2 (26 KOs) Canadian.

“Steve Claggett brings a lot to the table,” Lopez insists. “It’s a tough, competitive fight. He’s tough opposition for me. He comes forward. He knows how to cut the ring off. Honestly, he doesn’t stop. I’ve seen him stop a lot of fighters from that pressure. 

“He’s faced former world champions; he’s defeated number-one contenders; he’s made it look easy knowing damn well they’re not easy fighters to defeat. The guy is a natural 147-pounder coming to 140, so it’s definitely a big fight for me.”

There are a lot of big fights potentially involving Lopez, but the one he really wants is with Terence Crawford. Aside from that, he hopes to stay active, and to box at least twice more this year, in September and December.

“Despite the record and despite what people are expressing during these times, Teofimo doesn’t duck no fight and especially no tough fight, so I look forward to a great night of fighting and my own ‘Takeover’ on June 29th,” he says.

But will he get up for Claggett the way he would a fellow champion at 140lbs, or for one of the big names moving up from 135lbs? 

“Absolutely, Claggett does get my juices flowing,” he contends. “I think every fight moving forward, even after Ortiz, it gets me going, because every fight gets much bigger. Behind the scenes, it’s a lot bigger fight than it seems. But to everyone on the screen it looks like an easy fight and I should win this with flying colors, but it’s the boxing business and I understand where I stand in the boxing game. 

“I know a lot of people are rooting for me. I know there are those out there that love what I do and what I express. However, we have to show it every time we go out and we’re in that squared circle. 

“Steve Claggett is definitely someone I’m looking forward to competing with and facing and bringing out the best of myself. I’ve been training very hard for this guy because I know what he brings to the table.”

Lopez hopes activity will feed into consistency and that the Ortiz disappointment, albeit another victory, will be consigned to the past. From here on, he recognises it is important to impress.

““I hear this rumour going around,” he says. “‘What Teofimo are we going to get?’ You’re going to get the Teofimo that always gets his hand raised. You’re going to get the guy that always knows how to win, regardless of how it looks.”

Of course, the critics will remain. But Lopez knows that and he is young enough to not only keep making improvements, but to keep learning. Despite his accolades and self-confidence, there is much more to do before he enters his prime and before he becomes the fighter he wants to be. If he continues to develop, he might be able to impress against even the most reluctant opposition in the future.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Lopez continues. “Just when you think you’ve figured it out in the boxing game, boxing goes and shows you there’s still more to learn. 

“That’s what I love about what I do and why I compete with the top competitors that I compete with. It’s because I know boxing’s everlasting. It’s never going to end. That’s the beauty of it. I’m so serious about trying to perfect every angle and everything in the sport of boxing. 

“That’s everything, trying to get the core of everything to perfect it, so I know fighters that we didn’t expect to fight the way they did, like Jamaine Ortiz, and [when they] do things like that, people are going to put a big knock on me on it. However, when you go into a fight and you train for certain things like this, we were surprised. Everyone was. 

“I was surprised. I can’t look back no more, all I can say was, ‘What was my biggest problem there?’ 

“‘Okay, I’ve got it. I’ll work on it. We’ll figure it out.’” 

🥊Don't miss any other upcoming boxing fight Check your boxing tonight Schedule here