WBO and Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion Teofimo ‘The Takeover’ Lopez 19-1 (13) has opened up about his brief retirement last year and explained the rationale behind it.
The 26-year-old from Brooklyn, New York declared he was hanging up the gloves in June last year, but few believed the ruse despite Lopez claiming on social media that he would be relinquishing his WBO 140-pound belt.
When the Puerto Rican-based sanctioning body push him one month later to decide if he was indeed retiring, Lopez recanted.
The original retirement announcement was, Lopez says, a well thought out plan to buy him more time with his young family.
“I’m not retired, man. I think I just did that for the downtime. I needed some time off, spend some quality time with my son,” Lopez told ProBox TV.
Lopez will return to action this Thursday night for the first time since his title winning effort against Scottish southpaw Josh ‘The Tartan Tornado’ Taylor 19-1 (13) at Madison Square Garden Theater in New York on June 10.
In the opposite corner will be once-beaten Jamaine ‘The Technician’ Ortiz 17-1-1 (8). The only loss on the record of the 27-year-old from Worcester, Massachusetts was on points to former three-weight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko 17-3 (11) in a competitive fight in October 2022.
“‘The Technician,’ they say. And this guy, he faced Vasiliy Lomachenko, a former opponent that I faced and champion,” Lopez said.
“So Jamaine Ortiz, we go back like nine years. We faced each other in the 2015 National Golden Glove final and it was a great scrap up. Everyone knows the National Golden Gloves is a very tough competition to win, let alone even get there and compete. So I know I’m facing somebody that definitely got the skill set to give me a run for my money.
“When it came to Ortiz, I didn’t want this fight, I was trying every other fight from [Devin] Haney, [George] Kambosos — we even went down to Jose Ramirez and he said he wasn’t ready for Feb 8. A lot of these fighters blow up in weight. After I beat Josh Taylor I took six weeks out… and what did I do? I actually started training.
“It was very hard to make these fights happen; nobody wants to face me after the performance that I did with Josh Taylor.”
Lopez says he is now spending more time in the gym than ever and rather than seeing his passion for the sport wane, he says it is continuing to grow.
“Boxing made who I am today, so all I can do is pay it forward,” Lopez said.
“That’s the only thing that keeps my passion brewing, keeps that flame, that burning heart… I think that I let boxing have its moment of trying out all these other fighters, I let my wife test out and touch all these other boxers, and she said ‘I want you back’.
“I said ‘aw man, I don’t want to do this, I’m very at peace with my life right now’. But you know something? She needs me. She don’t want to die in the sport. And I say that wholeheartedly because if we keep this up, if we let these suit and tie men take over boxing, who never laced up boxing gloves let alone take a punch to the face, where we’re going to end up going is no more boxing.
“This is why I came back. This is a takeover for that reason.”