TEOFIMO LOPEZ DEFEATS MASAYOSHI NAKATANI ON ESPN PLUS
OXON HILL, Maryland (July 2o, 2019) — There weren’t the usual fireworks from Teofimo Lopez, but he did enough Friday night to beat the tall and lanky Masayoshi Nakatani in his first bout to go the 12-round distance.
Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) won by scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109.
It wasn’t a spectacular performance from a young prizefighter who has a highlight reel full of eye-opening knockouts. But in Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs), Lopez faced an unusually tall, 6-foot foe who also was durable and tough.
Early on, Lopez had issues navigating the ring against Japan’s Nakatani, who wasn’t intimidated in the least by his vaunted punching power. The long-limbed Nakatani was able to keep Lopez at bay with his fast punches. While they didn’t land all that often, they gave Lopez something to think about.
But eventually, Lopez was able to settle in and became more comfortable as he boxed patiently and slowly closed the gap. In the fourth round, he landed some of his best punches and a right hand that sent Nakatani to the floor, but it was incorrectly ruled a slip by referee Harvey Dock.
While Lopez was in control, winning round by round, there was never the sense that he was going to finish Nakatani. He won, but it left some doubts as to just how ready he is for the elite at 135. With the victory, he is now in line to face Richard Commey, the IBF belt holder.
“I just need little tuneups. It’s part of the process. I’m thankful right now. It was my first main event. It was 12 rounds. Am I proud of it? No, but I’m proud that I showed everyone I could go 12 rounds,” said Lopez, who added that Nakatani had the most “annoying” style he has ever faced. Lopez’s face was visibly bruised and marked up, which he said came mostly from clashes of heads, but Nakatani did land his share of right hands.
Regardless, Lopez gave a tip of the cap to Nakatani, saying, “This guy was no pushover, 18-0 with 12 knockouts from Japan, ranked No. 3. I was No. 4. It was a world title eliminator. This is what it’s all about.”
Promoter Bob Arum was generally pleased with Lopez’s outing.
“He has a lot to learn,” Arum said. “It’s the tallest guy he ever fought. It was tough adjusting to it. The guy was a dangerous puncher. It was a good performance. I wanted him, when he had the guy going, to put the pedal down.
“The good thing that comes from this is that we know he can go 12 rounds. That’s always a question in my mind. Could he go 12 rounds, and the answer is yes.”
For Lopez, who now embarks on the next stage of his career at the world-class level, it wasn’t quite the statement he wanted to make. But he won, and now he moves forward.
After a slow start, where not much in the way of action was taking place, Hernandez Harrison (33-0-1, 19 KOs) turned up the heat in Round 6, as he started coming forward and letting his hands go more liberally, attacking both the body and head of De Angel.
He continued his onslaught in the next round, and with a three-punch combination that was punctuated with a left hook, sent De Angel to the canvas. While he was able to rise to his feet, the fight was waved off at 2:30 of the round, to the delight of Hernandez Harrison’s fans who showed up in mass to support him.
It was the third victory of the year for Hernandez Harrison, who didn’t fight in 2017 and 2018 because of promotional issues.
Middleweight Esquiva Falcao remained undefeated by scoring an eighth-round TKO of the durable Jesus Gutierrez. Falcao (24-0, 16 KOs), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist for Brazil, fought at his usual steady, methodical pace and slowly wore down Gutierrez.
Gutierrez (25-4-2, 12 KOs) was floored in Round 8 and a series of follow-up punches had referee David Braslow waving off the fight.
There’s nothing spectacular about what Falcao does from his southpaw stance, but he is a consistent fighter who has sound fundamentals. He’s now at the stage of his career where he feels he’s ready for bigger and better things.
“He was a very tough fighter. I was prepared because of that,” Falcao said of his opponent. “I saw that I hurt him, and I went for the knockout. I told myself that if I want to be a world champion, I needed to knock out this guy. Bob Arum, I’m ready for my title shot! I’ll go anywhere. Japan, Brazil, it doesn’t matter.”
Heavyweight Cassius Chaney stopped Joel Caudle in Round 1. But this bout won’t be soon forgotten as Caudle was knocked out of the ring headfirst by a barrage of power punches from Chaney (16-0, 9 KOs).
Instead of staying down and out, Caudle (8-3-2, 5 KOs) got up and made the decision to beat the count and reenter the ring.
A short time later, after Caudle took a series of punches, the bout was waved off.
Middleweight hopeful Tyler Howard needed to go the distance to defeat veteran journeyman Jamaal Davis. Howard, who struggled mightily in his last bout against Cristian Olivas back in February, was much more solid in defeating Davis by the scores of 80-72 (twice) and 78-73.
Davis (18-15-1, 7 KOs), who has fought the likes of Yuri Foreman, Gabe Rosado, Joel Julio and Peter Quillin in his career, showed a good chin throughout, taking numerous hard left hooks from Howard. But Davis simply couldn’t muster up enough offense to win rounds on the cards.
Lightweight Tyler McCreary remained undefeated by defeating a tough Jessie Cris Rosales by split decision. The scores after eight rounds were 77-75 and 78-74 for McCreary and 75-77 for Rosales.
While Rosales certainly didn’t back down, it was McCreary (16-0-1 7 KOs), a native of Toledo, Ohio, who showed the superior skills and speed in consistently beating him to the punch throughout the night. For McCreary, this could be described as a bit of a step up bout as, coming into this contest, Rosales (22-3-1, 10 KOs) had lost only to the highly regarded Shakur Stevenson and former world titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez.
Rolando Vargas defeated the tall and lanky Nathaniel Davis in two quick rounds in a fast-paced slugfest. From the very beginning, Vargas (3-0, 3 KOs) was able to close the gap on the much taller southpaw, who simply couldn’t keep this fight on the outside. Vargas hit Davis (1-1, 1 KO) numerous times with both hands and shook him up to a point in the second frame where David Braslow decided to call off the fight.