Brooklyn native Teofimo Lopez, the former lightweight king and current junior welterweight contender, kicked off fight week 100 stories above Manhattan. Lopez takes on Spanish southpaw Sandor Martin in a 10-round main event this Saturday, Dec. 10, at Madison Square Garden. Four days from his first main event at MSG’s “big room,” Lopez went face to face with Martin at Edge at Hudson Yards, the highest sky deck in the Western Hemisphere.
Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) captured his first world title at Madison Square Garden in December 2019, knocking out Richard Commey in two rounds. He unified the lightweight division with his October 2020 decision over pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko and hopes to repeat the feat at junior welterweight. Lopez made his junior welterweight debut in August with a seventh-round stoppage over Pedro Campa. Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) has won 11 straight fights, including a 2021 upset over four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia.
This is what Lopez had to say on Tuesday, 1,000 feet above Midtown:
“This means everything to me. I won my first world title at Madison Square Garden. Who can say that? It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I always heard from Frank Sinatra himself, ‘If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere,’ and what better place than the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden. To me, I believe that’s where legends are born – they are not made there, but they are born there.”
On last time fighting at MSG vs. Richard Commey:
“That was three years ago, before the pandemic and all of those things that happened, but honestly, I’m so grateful for it. The Arena was packed that night and you could hear everyone from New York, from all different parts – East Coast and West Coast – just coming out with support, and even from Ghana. He was the champion at that time. For the ring walk, I was literally jumping around and looking around the whole arena absorbing and taking it all in – enjoying the moment. I’m a showstopper. I’m a performer. And at the end of it, fighting at Madison Square Garden, you’re going to see that.”
On first time headlining at Madison Square Garden:
“This is a huge moment for me. This is a moment of a lifetime. This is equivalent to my first world title. These are the things I’m really looking forward to. This is my home. My hometown, my home field, and we are really looking forward to putting on a show for everyone on December 10th.”
On favorite Garden moment:
“They’re all my favorite, but it was my fifth fight, and I believe my second time fighting at The Garden against Ronald Rivas. This is when my name really started to pop. It was my first time fighting in the big room at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks play. It was the undercard of Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz, and I just set this guy up perfectly – it was so nice. I dipped, dipped, and rolled, and I hit him with a mean hook and just put him down perfectly. It was a perfectly placed punch. I felt at that moment when I looked at him that I could have had some coffee before I threw the punch. It just felt like slow motion at that moment. It was right there I believe where the Takeover turned into full effect and at what better place than Madison Square Garden.”
Lopez-Martin tops a televised quadruple-header airing immediately after the Heisman Trophy Ceremony at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+. Heavyweight sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson aims for his 13th straight knockout against the battle-tested Jerry “Slugger” Forrest, Puerto Rican junior middleweight star Xander Zayas steps up in class against 28-fight veteran Alexis Salazar, and 2020 Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis looks to jumpstart his world title ambitions in a lightweight duel versus Juan Carlos Burgos.
Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images