Former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez has been taking a beating in the court of public opinion. In a recent video interview, the Brooklyn native went on a bitter tirade against ESPN and Top Rank that included a perceived racist outburst.
“At the fighters meeting I dissed Andre Ward and Timothy Bradley in front of ESPN’s production for all the affiliation and corruption that they do,” Lopez said in an interview with YouTube channel Punsh Drunk Boxing.
The 25-year-old would use the knockdown he suffered in the second round of his most recent bout with Sandor Martin as an example of the commentating crew’s bias against him.
“And what happened? I put more weight on my back, and all they was talking about right away, when I slipped with the first knockdown they called.
“I slipped, they called it right away. What did Bradley say, ‘He’s hurt, he’s hurt!’ So I don’t sugarcoat sh**. All these motherf***ers d**k ride and they suck d**k– pardon my language. But that is the problem, I don’t ride off that.”
For the record, Andre Ward says that Lopez’s “dissing” of him and Bradley never happened.
“Lol. It never happened! The young fella needs prayer,” Ward wrote via Twitter.
But Lopez would go on and dig a deeper hole for himself.
“This is my last fight on ESPN,” Lopez continued. “I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry. This is why this fight (against Josh Taylor on June 10) means everything to me. If they want the black fighters they can keep them. I brought Bud Light to Top Rank.”
Following that bit of scorched earth, father and trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr., who was present during the interview that got his son in trouble, did an extremely poor job of damage control in an interview with YouTube channel, Mill City Boxing.
“What I’m trying to say is,” Lopez Sr. explained, “we didn’t mean nothing about when my son said that Top Rank could stay with all their black fighters because, you know what it is? When Devin Haney came into Top Rank and all this, they’re promoting him more than they’re promoting my son and he feels a little type of way..You gotta understand this, we’re fighting the top dude, bro, and we gotta get some respect for that…And he just feels a type of way, you know? They just want to promote, in his mind, the black fighters. You got Keyshawn Davis. You got Shakur Stevenson. You got Baby [“The Real Big Baby” Jared Anderson]. So, you got all these fighters from Top Rank that are getting more recognition than my son is getting and he’s trying to fight the top dogs…
“He understood that he was wrong with what he said, but it has nothing to do with race…but you can’t mention the word “black” nowadays because everyone gets offended, you know?
…He didn’t say it in a racist way, he just said it, like, Top Rank is really just focusing on the black fighters because it’s the market, marketing f***king strategy…They see that’s what people want to see…They love black fighters. They’re the best at what they do, you know? Black people are f***ing very athletic.”
Problem NOT solved.
Not only did Lopez’s bomb blast comments ruffle feathers for its blatant race-based message, they also likely drove a wedge between him and those in charge of his access to the public.
The relationship between Lopez and promoter Top Rank had become strained immediately after Lopez upset Vasiliy Lomachenko back in 2020 when Lopez opted to hold out and force a purse bid for the first defense of his three belts. The business move would result in Top Rank and broadcast partner ESPN losing out on the first defense of their newest rising star.
For Lopez, the move resulted in a long, twisted series of postponements and reschedulings as purse bid winner, Triller, proved not up to the task of putting together a big league show. Triller was eventually forced to relinquish the fight to second-highest bidder Matchroom Boxing.
The delays allowed for Lopez to grow stale and even created an opening for a Covid-19 infection that hobbled Lopez and, many say, led to him losing his belts to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. when the two finally got in the ring.
Since the loss, Lopez has been a tougher sell to the public. In his last bout, this past December, he turned in an uneven and relatively lackluster performance against Sandor Martin in a way closer-than-expected split decision victory.
Now set to face WBO junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor on June 10, Lopez continues to give the impression of a young fighter whose head may not entirely be “right.”