WBO and WBA lightweight world titlist and WBC "franchise" champion Vasiliy Lomachenko faces IBF world titleholder Teofimo Lopez Jr. at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on Oct. 17. The bout will headline a stacked Top Rank card that begins with prelims at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+. The main card will start at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), ESPN's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Luke Campbell on Aug. 31, 2019, that unified the WBO, WBA and WBC belts. A few months later, Lomachenko was stripped of his WBC title and instead named the franchise champion. Interim titlist Devin Haney was given the WBC world title.
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) has taken the boxing world by storm with his knockout victories and postfight celebrations that have included Fortnite dances and backflips. He won the IBF title with an impressive second-round KO of Richard Commey in December.
Lopez and his father and trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., have been calling out Ukraine's Lomachenko -- and predicting a victory -- for a long time.
"It's not going to even last three rounds," Lopez Sr. recently told ESPN. "When that monster hits him with the first punch, you're going to see a hurt dog without no legs. He's done. The first punch is going to change the whole fight. He's going to wish he was never in that ring."
Lomachenko and Lopez seem to have a real dislike for each other, with the trash talk starting months before the bout.
"Yeah, this is personal. I just think he is a conniving son of a b----," Lopez said in an episode of ESPN's Blood, Sweat and Tears: Lomachenko vs. Lopez. "In order to get respect, you gotta give respect, and the way you carry yourself and the way you look at certain people, man ... I've seen you, I've been around you. I don't like you. I know how you may approach me as more like a piece of gum in the shoe or something."
The comments seem to have rattled Lomachenko, who's primarily a quiet and respectful fighter.
"In my country, if you insult somebody, you'd better be prepared for them to hurt you," Lomachenko said on the same show. "If we were back in my country, he would learn pretty quick that he can't run his mouth like that."
Former two-division world titlist and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. believes this could be a night to remember.
"There is a real possibility that this young, strong kid could beat Lomachenko," Bradley said. "I've been in boxing for 26 years, and upsets happen. We always seemingly glorify one particular fighter because of his special talent inside the ring. But we forget about the other fighter like he has no advantages or talent. Lopez is a real live hungry young lion. He is bigger in size because he is a natural lightweight, whereas Lomachenko is not."
The confident Lopez, 22, is hoping for a knockout victory.
"I gotta knock this guy out," Lopez said on First Take. "Look, I'm not going to look for a knockout. If it comes, it comes, but I know that I trust my abilities ... and I trust the fact that I'm only getting stronger. And the fact that we've rested for this long, it's going to be a bad night for this man. ... Everybody loves knockouts. What I do is very exciting, you know. And I'm just a young, hungry fighter, and a lot of people may call me arrogant, but when it comes to my sport, I'm very good at what I do."
Where can I watch the Lomachenko-Lopez fight card on Saturday, Oct. 17?
The Lomachenko-Lopez fight card broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+ will begin at 10 p.m. ET on Oct. 17. The main card includes Alex Saucedo against Arnold Barboza Jr. in a 10-round junior welterweight battle, and Edgar Berlanga looking for his 15th consecutive KO victory in the first round in an eight-round super middleweight bout against Lanell Bellows.
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How do I stream the fights?
The fights will be available to stream on mobile devices using the ESPN App.
The undercard begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+.
The undercard includes:
Josue Vargas vs. Kendo Castaneda, 10 rounds, junior welterweights
Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas vs. John Vincent Moralde, 8 rounds, featherweights
Quatavious Cash vs. Quincy LaVallais, 8 rounds, middleweights
Quinton Randall vs. Jan Carlos Rivera, 6 rounds, welterweights
Jahi Tucker vs. Charles Garner, 4 rounds, welterweights