Teofimo Lopez, WBO light welterweight champion, insists that his opponent, Steve Claggett, won’t be an easy fight for him this Saturday night, June 29, in their twelve-round main event bout at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, Florida.

(Courtesy: Top Rank)

The Elusive Mega-Money Fight

Fans feel that the 35-year-old Claggett (38-7-2, 26 KOs) is another chip shot for Teofimo (20-1, 13 KOs) to ensure he doesn’t get beaten again.

Those money fights have been elusive for Teofimo, partly due to his loss to George Kambosos Jr. and controversial wins over Sandor Martin and Jamaine Ortiz.

What has been missing from Teofimo’s game in the last few years or the impressive highlight reel knockouts he routinely scored until he fought Vasily Lomachenko in 2020? That fight changed Teo into a fighter who had a tough time just trying to win by decision.

Other than that fight, Teofimo has always chosen to face opposition where he was the favorite, which has resulted in his matches not generating much buzz with fans. Teo’s popularity, or lack thereof, is the direct cause of his tendency to take only gimmes, and he’s shockingly too obtuse to understand that.

“My thoughts on Steve Claggett is a Rocky Balboa movie. I’m Apollo Creed, and that’s what I think of it,” said Teofimo Lopez to Sean Zittel’s YouTube channel. “I don’t overlook him. He’s going to bring the best out of me in this fight.

Claggett has too many defeats for him to fit into the Rocky Balboa mold, and fans aren’t buying into Teofimo’s excuse for why he’s using this guy as his opponent. They think it’s just another soft pick by Teofimo, who hasn’t faced a talented fighter since 2020.

Teofimo made a big production about his fight with Josh Taylor, but that guy was washed, coming off a year layoff and a controversial win over Jack Catterall in February 2022.

“I pick those types of fighters to bring the best out of me. I want to see what more I can do. The other champions in my weight class, even though I’m the lineal and #1 in the division, want to unify these guys,” said Teofimo.

Teofimo, 26, could increase his popularity if he reached outside his comfort zone by moving up a weight class to 147 to take on Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis and Brian Norman Jr., but that would take courage.

It would also involve Teofimo giving up his habit of only taking sure-thing fights. He’s only had one fight in his career where he wasn’t considered the favorite, against an older, smaller, injured Vasily Lomachenko.

“We want to make these bigger fights. However, they have their agenda. They have their plans for their fighters. All I can do is stay active. That’s the main part about everything that I need right now,” said Teofimo.

Teo isn’t going to get those bigger fights that he wants unless he takes some risky ones against some of the fighters who are calling him out, like Shakur Stevenson and Keyshawn Davis.

If Teofimo isn’t willing to go up to 147 to fight Jaron Ennis or up to 154 to fight killers in that division, he needs to at least take the smaller risks against Keyshawn and Shakur.

“If I’m not well-prepared, this is definitely a tough fight,” said Teofimo about his title defense against little-known Claggett. “This will look bad on my record if things go his way. Having that championship mentality, I believe I’m going to win with flying colors.”

Of course, Teofimo is prepared for the Claggett fight because this is a journeyman-level fighter he’s facing. How can Teofimo not be ready for that kind of opponent?

He could beat this person even if he weren’t prepared, which says a lot about the type of match-making his handlers are doing for him. They must not have confidence in Teofimo to put him in with Claggett.

“I’m looking forward to a great match-up. We have the best matchmakers in the world. They know what they see and what’s going to come on June 29th,” said Teofimo.

After Teofimo’s last performance against Jamaine Ortiz, it’s understandable why he’s looking forward to fighting Claggett. That was a nightmare for Teofimo, with him getting outboxed the entire twelve-round fight and being booed afterward by the fans.

“Steve Claggett is a high guard and come-forward pressure fighter. The guy doesn’t stop throwing punches, coming forward, and the guy doesn’t take breaks. These guys are not easy fighters at all. It’s not easy. They’re tough, tough, difficult fighters,” said Teofimo.

It’s not appealing to hear Teofimo call Claggett a high-guard fighter because that suggests he’s a walking punching bag for him and not someone who has any shot at winning this fight.

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