Teofimo Lopez insisted retirement was a possibility despite him producing a career-best performance to dethrone Josh Taylor as the WBO super lightweight champion.
At the theatre at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the fighter from Brooklyn consistently excelled to cast doubt over the 32-year-old Taylor’s future in the process of earning scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 117-111.
After opening up about the extent to which divorce proceedings with his wife Cynthia have contributed to the struggles in his career that followed his remarkable victory over Vasyl Lomachenko – he then lost to George Kambosos Jr, defeated Pedro Campa and was perhaps fortunate to be awarded a decision over Sandor Martin – the 25-year-old said he was in need of “a break”.
“Going back to the drawing board and seeing what I can do better,” he answered when asked what would come next. “Life, man. Life. Such is life. It’s always hard. Personal life. I was with somebody for five years; they gave me a hard time and really screwed me up mentally.
“But I can’t really express too much because we’re going through the legal custody process right now, but that’s my next battle right now – fighting for my kid.
“[Winning] was for me. I like against all odds. I like when I pressure myself; I do it on purpose. I need the pressure on me, because that’s what make diamonds, and I shined very bright.
“When I was at that pedigree I would always go back to my ex wife, and that gave me more issues; more problems, and it was taking me away from my boxing. Boxing is my wife – I married it at 17 years young. That’s my first wife and I can’t disrespect my love.”
Asked if against Taylor he had surpassed his performance over Lomachenko, he said: “Absolutely. I’m only getting better. That’s what it’s all about. Challenges. Challenges brings the greatness out of you.
“I don’t know how to say it or express it enough. Walter Elias Disney who owns ESPN and ABC – that man, he said it best. ‘I like the impossible because there’s less competition there.’ Twenty-five years young; two hall-of-fame careers in one. You cannot tell me I’m not great.
“This is what I do. This is what I do best now – just to stir it up I might retire. Retirement, man. I’m kind of tired. I’m not getting paid enough – $1m? Get the fuck out of here.
“I need to take a break. I’m tired of everybody bullying me. I’m young. I’m a kid too, at heart. I think y’all need to go after the Devin Haneys, the Shakurs, the Tyson Furys and all that.”
Talk of returning to “drawing boards” is so regular among fighters as to be cliched, but it was relevant that Lopez said that moments before then discussing retirement. His value has perhaps never been greater, in contrast to Taylor, who spoke of moving up to welterweight despite, for his first fight under his new trainer Joe McNally, appearing comfortable at 140lbs.
“No excuses,” said the former undisputed champion. “It wasn’t my best. The better man won. I’ve got no excuses. I fought to the best of my ability. He was better than me. It is what it is. Congratulations to Teofimo.
“I thought it was a close fight. I’d love to do it again. I definitely know I’m better than that, and I know I can beat him still. I’d love to do it again. But he’s the champ, so the ball is in his court.
“The layoff had nothing to do with it. I’ve got no excuses. He was the better man. I think I probably will be moving up to welterweight now. But, no excuses. He was the better man.”