Sources: TR exploring spring return for Lopez

Boxing

Teofimo Lopez is preparing to mount a comeback.

Top Rank is exploring the possibility of a 140-pound bout between Lopez and Arnold Barboza Jr. in the spring, sources told ESPN.

Lopez, who defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020 to win the undisputed 135-pound championship, was upset by George Kambosos Jr. in November. The 24-year-old will now campaign at 140 pounds, no matter whom he fights following his first pro defeat.

“We ready for anybody at 140 pounds; he doesn’t have to struggle at that weight, he’ll be perfect, he won’t be getting sick from his lungs anymore,” Lopez’s father and trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., told ESPN. “I think that would be a great fight; I think Top Rank is looking for that fight with Barboza.

“We’ll fight anybody, it doesn’t matter who it is. And then eventually fight [undisputed 140-pound champion] Josh Taylor and get our belts back.”

Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) was diagnosed with “extensive air in the retropharyngeal space” by doctors during a hospital visit immediately after the loss to Kambosos, ESPN’s Mark Kriegel reported.

In ESPN’s upset of the year, Lopez was dropped in Round 1 before he floored Kambosos in Round 10 of a decision defeat. A victory over Barboza, ESPN’s No. 9 junior welterweight, would thrust Lopez into the title picture in a new weight class.

“When he started saying he was going to come to 140 and take over and jump right into title shots, it was a slap in the face to everybody at 140,” Barboza told ESPN. “You’re at 135, it’s different.

“His dad mentioned my name as a tune-up fight. That pissed me off. … I’m trying to get this fight so bad. I don’t care what it takes: I’ll fight in his living room and his dad can be the referee and his mom the judge.”

Barboza (26-0, 10 KOs) scored decision victories over Alex Saucedo and Antonio Moran in his past two fights, but he has never competed at the top level. The 30-year-old fighter, who was born in Long Beach, California, knows a win over Lopez would change the trajectory of his career.

“He beats me, he gets back at title contention at 140; I beat him, my name gets out there more,” Barboza said. “He is a big name — he’s the type of guy I want to beat and make a statement against. It will be good on my resume.

“After the fight with me, if he does actually take it, I don’t think he will be the same. I think he’ll retire after that. Him and his dad, they gotta be careful. We’ll see if they are who they say they are. They talk the talk and now we gotta see if they can walk it.”

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