If Teofimo Lopez isn't ready, that's not my problem - Commey
Richard Commey can appreciate Teofimo Lopez’s moment of self-reflection and realization that a few things need to be sorted out before entering his first career title fight.
At the same time, he’s not here to lend a sympathetic ear.
“He is young but he and his team have talked their way into the fight,” Commey (29-2, 26KOs) told BoxingScene.com of his current mandatory challenger, who is now having second thoughts about racing towards the lightweight crown. “if he’s not ready, that’s not my problem because I am and I will be ready come fight night.”
The statement comes in reaction a recent story which ran on BoxingScene, where Lopez (14-0, 11KOs)—who celebrated his 22-year old birthday earlier this week—revealed during a segment on Max Kellerman’s Max on Boxing his disappointment over the manner in which he obtained latest win.
The unbeaten rising contender struggled at times in a 12-round win over Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12KOs) in their ESPN+ streamed title eliminator on July 19 in Oxon Hill, Md. Lopez had previously made bold claims about running through the division, including Commey and the winner of the three-belt clash between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Luke Campbell on Aug. 31 in London, England.
By his own admission, continued struggles to squeeze into a 135-pound frame along with personal issues has begun to take its emotional toll. Despite his latest win guaranteeing him an immediate title fight versus Commey, there is a now a chance that it won’t happen as quickly as all involved parties would prefer.
“If we don’t sort these things out, there won’t be a fight between myself and Richard Commey,” revealed Lopez. “I have to regroup within myself. I can beat all these guys, impressively and without any flaws in the ring. But if Teofimo is not happy when he’s in the ring, then those are the problems that—the only person that can beat me, is me.”
Naturally, Commey and his team don’t agree with the last part.
“In regard to the Lopez interview with Max Kellerman on ESPN, I can only take from it that, he’s young and a lot of things are happening a bit too fast for him at the moment,” Michael Amoo-Bediako, Commey’s longtime manager told BoxingScene.com. “He hadn’t been tested until the Nakatani fight and his inexperience told.
“I think the people around him are pushing him too fast and they need to take stock of their actions. He’s got plenty of time but rushing him and putting him in with someone like Richard could really set him back. Ask Alejandro Luna—he’s not been back in the ring since Richard stopped him more than a year ago and he was 22-0 (15KOs) at the time.”
Whereas it’s come to reason that Lopez can learn a bit more before racing to the top, the battle-tested Commey has long established himself as a nightmare for any lightweight.
The most ardent supporter can argue that the 32-year old from Ghana—who is now based out of the Bronx (N.Y.)—deserves to still carry an unbeaten record.
His lone two career losses came in back-to-back fights late in 2016 which honestly could’ve gone either way. Commey dropped a split decision to Robert Easter in their vacant lightweight title fight which was among the best bouts of the year, and came up just short three months later in a title eliminator versus Denis Shafikov on the road in Moscow, Russia.
Five straight wins have followed, including his aforementioned knockout win over Luna in their title eliminator last March and then winning his first belt via 2nd round knockout of Isa Chaniev in their vacant title fight this past February.
Commey suffered an injury during the bout, which killed plans for a discussed unification bout with Lomachenko, a two-belt lightweight titlist and pound for pound entrant. He still recovered quickly enough to lodge his first defense, a one-sided stoppage of former lightweight titlist Ray Beltran this past June in Temecula, Calif.
For all he’s overcome to get to his point, the defending titlist fully expects his next fight to be against the very challenger who’s spent months calling for the best.
“We all have issues but come fight night you put that to one side and you go out and do your job,” notes Commey, who is well-versed in surviving the school of hard knocks. “Team Lopez wanted it, Top Rank wanted it, ESPN wanted it and most of all I want it so they can’t back out now.”