The only guy who is No. 1 is me – Teofimo Lopez

It’s Teofimo Lopez fight week and in an exclusive interview with ProBox TV, Lopez praised his opponent, Jamaine Ortiz.

They meet on Thursday (February 8) at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas in Lopez’s first fight since he outboxed 140lbs leader Josh Taylor and then promptly retired from the sport.

“I think I just did that for the down time,” admitted the 19-1 Lopez, of walking away last June. “I needed to spend some quality time with my son.”

While many want to see Lopez against the biggest names at 135 and 140lbs, the likes of Devin Haney, Tank Davis and Shakur Stevenson, Lopez has plenty of respect for Ortiz and their paths have crossed before. 

“Jamaine is ‘The Technician’, they say,” added Lopez. “He faced [Vasiliy] Lomachenko, who I faced and we go back nine years. We fought each other in the 2015 National Golden Gloves, and it was a great scrap. Everyone knows that’s a very tough competition to win, let alone get there and compete, so I know I facing someone who’s going to give me a run for my money.”

Ortiz was narrowly outscored by Lomachenko in New York in 2022 in the only loss of his 17-1-1 (13KOs) career, but this rerun of the National Golden Gloves final was not Lopez’s first choice. 

Teofimo wanted a rematch with Australian George Kambosos, the only man to defeat him, but Kambosos faces Lomachenko in May. Lopez said he tried to get Devin Haney, that Jose Ramirez was in the frame and Lopez still believes he might be the fighter to start boxing at the new Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“Whether it’s this year or next year, it definitely has to be a great dance partner,” Teofimo went on. “But they want me to open up the Madison Square Garden Sphere for boxing, so that’s pretty awesome. Not Canelo, not these other big names or the Face of Boxing [Tank], so it goes to show where I stand in the sport.

“When it came to that [Ortiz] fight, I didn’t want that fight. I was trying any other fight, from Haney to Kambosos, we went down to Ramirez and he said he wouldn’t be ready for February 8, a lot of these fighters blow up in weight. After I beat Josh Taylor, I took six weeks out and what did I do right after? I always stay on the low, and what did I do? I just started training and training. So I’ve been training from August to now, so I’ve been ready. It’s all about making these fights happen, and it’s very hard to make these fights happen. Nobody wants to face me, I guess after the performance against Josh Taylor. Now it’s about executing with this guy. Now everyone thinks I’m going to look passed Jamaine Ortiz, and that’s beautiful. You never know what you’re going to get from me.” 

Behind the scenes, Lopez has young fighters joining his Takeover Promotions stable and he said he might broaden his horizons to incorporate MMA fighters into Takeover Sports at some stage. 

Above all, Ortiz is a fight fan, and, he wants to test himself against the elite.

“The fights that need to be made are the best fighting the best,” Lopez continued. “I see these other promoters, they have so much investment in these top fighters that people want to see fight, however, it’s like they haven’t got their money back yet. It’s sad, because they say this is the business of boxing, and it’s frustrating now because we’re at a time when MMA is starting to get more recognition because they’re putting these fights on and win or lose, they just like seeing these guys face each other. And I came back to make boxing great again.”

More of the 135lbs elite have followed Lopez up to 140, and while Teofimo has his eyes on eventually going up to welterweight, the 26-year-old is waiting to land the big fish at junior-welterweight.

“That’s why I went up to 140 first, I knew they were going to come up in weight,” said Lopez. “I could tell. They had to go up to 140 because they blow up between camps and it was like, ‘Let me get the big fish first’, and that was Josh Taylor, the guy that was undisputed at that time. Now I’m the kingpin, linear world champion, and it doesn’t matter whether those guys fight each other back and forth and back and forth, the only guy that is No. 1 is Teofimo. It stays that way, and whoever wants to step to that next plate, then we can talk about it.”