Greg Leon: How is everything going in preparaion for your April 20th bout versus [European champion] Edis Tatli [31-2]? Teofimo Lopez: "Everything is good. Yesterday was my first day back in the boxing gym and I did like twenty rounds. I'm feeling sharp, fresh, and my father was like that's what he loves because it looked like I hadn't left the gym and that's always good news." GL: What are your thoughts on Tatli as a fighter? TL: "I haven't really watched him, my father has. You know me Greg, I don't really watch fighters and stuff like that. I pinpoint on them when I'm in the ring fighting them, but my father told me he's like William Silva, only slower. He said this guy fights like a Klitschko, it's all pretty straight forward with a 1-2 and 1-2-3. He's #3 in the world for a reason though and I'm not taking him lightly. To be honest I don't take anybody I fight lightly."
GL: Take nobody lightly, punish everybody heavily.
Teofimo Lopez: (laughs) "There you go, you got the key right there."
GL: William Silva was a veteran of 26 fights who had never been stopped before and you stopped him. Tatli hasn't been stopped in 33 fights, will you be the first to stop him?
TL: "Hell yeah. I'm looking to be the first to do everything man. If it comes it comes, but I can tell you that it was scheduled for ten rounds and they just bumped it up to twelve rounds. I don't know what we're fighting for yet, but I know they bumped it to twelve rounds."
GL: They wouldn't bump it to twelve rounds for nothing [The WBC lightweight champion] Mikey Garcia, is moving up to welterweight this weekend, so that title could become vacant].
TL: "Yeah I know, usually it's for a belt or a title eliminator, but they haven't announced anything yet so I'm not exactly sure."
GL: Do you consider Tatli a step up from Diego Magdaleno?
TL: "You know when it'll be a step up Greg? When I'm fighting for a world championship, and even that not be a step up for me. People are trying to say I'm fighting bums, I'm not though, I just make them look like that because I'm just that good. It's not arrogance, it's just the truth and you guys have got to give me credit too. Magdaleno was tough and he dug in there longer than anybody else, but that's only because I let him last that long. This time we're going to do something different and I'm going to be readier than I was for Magdaleno since this a twelve round fight."
GL: Is it difficult for you to stay grounded knowing that you've got this twelve rounder on April 20th, then you're supposed to be headlining at the Garden over the summer before ultimately fighting Lomachenko possibly for all the marbles? Is it difficult for you to stay focused on the task at hand when you know much much bigger things are on the horizon?
TL: "Nah, nah, nah because you've got to take it one fight at a time. It's not promised. None of this shit is promised, they tell me that me and Loma will fight, but is it promised? Not really. I still got to do my job and he's got to do his. We've got to keep winning for this to happen. It's not hard to stay focused when you can't f**k up and it's going to be very hard for me to f**k up. I'm not worried and there's no pressure. Bob's got to say everything he's got to say about Loma's experience and this and that, but I know he believes in me and what I could do, but he's still protecting his boy. If the fight happens it happens, but right now my focus is only on April 20th and Edis."
GL: You're aware of the interview I did with Loma where he basically said that he wouldn't be surprised if you quit midway through the fight. How do you feel about that?
TL: "Good. Keep that same energy and I'll probably slap the shit out of him at the press conference. I just don't like him, I really don't. I don't like how he treats people in general, so I don't care. It's good though that he's talking, but I don't quit. I had a broken hand in one of my fights and I didn't quit. I'm a different breed man and that's something he's going to learn if we ever fight."
GL: As highly regarded as he is, and most consider him the best pound for pound fighter in the world right now, would a win over him make you number one pound for pound?
TL: "That's up to the fans man..
GL: (cutting in) Forget the fans I'm asking you for your opinion.
TL: "Beating him would be just another dude that I beat to be honest with you. Will beating him declare me as pound for pound? Well to me I already feel that I'm the best fighter in the world right now. A win over Lomachenko will not define me or the champion that I am. I told my father and he needs to understand that in order for Lomachneko to have a PPV fight he's got to fight me. Who in reality needs who more? Of course, if I win a world title in July and he's got the other two or three belts then I'd fight him because all of the belts are on the line. Whoever wins that fight becomes undisupted and that's what has me intrigued to fight him. At 21, about to be 22 in July and by 15-0 I'm looking to be the undisputed lightweight champion at 22 years old...hey, tell me about it."
GL: You've made it clear that this will be your last year at 135. Has it become more difficult to cut the weight?
TL: "We're doing something new this time around, we're working with some people who are going to make it easier to make the weight. UFC fighters have done it and stuff like that so it's all legit. I had one of the guys from Top Rank come in and observe everything. It's got nothing to do with any supplements or anything like that, it's all about new exercises. The goal is to be right at 135 before I leave for New York."
GL: So is it still 140 for 2020?
TL: "Yes. I'm just going to maintain 135 for the rest of this year before moving up to 140 next year. Of course I'm growing and getting bigger so of course it's going to be harder to cut the weight, so we're finding new solutions. I can cut the weight easily, but to make it less stressful we've got things in place that are going to help us, it's about an hour a session and it's been really good, I'm glad my father found it."
GL: What you've added to the training routine didn't help you win that snowball fight versus your wife, that's for sure.
TL: (laughs) "What if I told you I didn't want to hurt her? (laughs)"
GL: Pops commentary was the best on that.
TL: "Yeah it was, stick to boxing champ is what he said."
GL: As you know I talk with your father on a regular and tells me that you're basically operating at 40% of what you will be as a finished product. Do you agree with that? What would 60% more on top of what you're already bringing look like?
TL: "I don't even know Greg. There's things that my father says and I'm like, damn really. But it's true what he's saying though because we never stop learning. When I reach 100% there's not going to be any point of boxing anymore because I'll know everything there is to know. What's the fun in the sport if you can't keep learning? I'm only 21 and I've got a lot to learn. There's so many tricks and in this camp we're going to bring some of them out. My father saw some things he didn't like with the Magdaleno fight, but overall he loves how I stay composed and everything, but he wants me to place my punches better and I'm doing that. I'm going to fix up a couple of little things and go from there.
"Think about it, the best thing that my father and I have is we agree on nearly everything. It's very rare that we don't agree on something tactical or when it comes to what is best to do in a boxing ring, but overall we always agree. There's things that only he sees in me that you guys don't. Mark Kriegel called me a con-man when it comes to the ring and stuff...it's not in a bad way, I just have a poker face and won't ever show that anything is wrong or bothering me. I have experience and I already know that this guy Edis Tatli, they're all going to say the same shit, they've got the experience over me and every time they say it, what happens? Tell me Greg, what happens?
GL: Teofimo dances.
TL: (laughs) "Alright then. Experience you can have that, you've got years in the sport and that's great I applaud you, it's not how many years you've been in the sport that matters, it's what you've done with them and what you've learned. A lot of these guys do the same thing over and over and haven't learned anything new, but I'm smart in that ring and I pick up on a lot of things in the ring and immediately react on them."
GL: Whenever these cats talk that experience shit you've just got to tell them with all that experience the one highlight of their career will always and forever be getting stopped by Teofimo Lopez in his BLANK teenth fight."
TL: "Ooh...I like that, look at you, wow...I might borrow that one."
GL: (laughs) How long will Tatli last?
TL: "I'll let you know after camp. It depends on how camp is and how everything turns out to be. It all comes down to how camp goes and how my father sees me, especially in sparring and then I'll from there. It's not going to go to the late rounds that's for sure. It'll be anywhere within the first rounds, six rounds or less."
GL: Any new dances in the works?
TL: "Fortnite is dying down, so I think this is going to be my last one with the Fortnite dance. This isn't going to be the celebration for the rest of my career, I'm going to keep it fresh."
GL: Closing thoughts for the fans.
TL: "Tune into ESPN PPV on April 20th, don't miss it. It's back at the Garden, I've fought at the Garden four times and all four times the fights ended in the first or second round. I'm looking to give my fans another great show on April 20th and expect another knockout."
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