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Gordon: Move to 140 pounds fresh start for Teofimo Lopez

“The Takeover” is Teofimo Lopez’s nickname.

It’s also what he did to the lightweight division the night he beat Vasily Lomachenko to claim the unified lightweight championship — and what pressure did to him the night he lost it to George Kambosos Jr.

“People were in the stands,” Lopez said, recalling the Nov. 27 bout at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. “They spent money. They traveled from different parts and it’s like — to see me. To see us perform. The only thing I can do … is give them what they came to see.”

What the saw was the end of Lopez’s run as unified champion. They saw him bloody, battered and indignant when the majority decision was announced. They also saw him fight, he would learn afterward, with a condition called “pneumomediastinum,” according to 2021 report from ESPN.

He battled Kambosos with a torn esophagus, restricted breathing and air in places it shouldn’t have been.

Lopez lost a fight. He could have lost his life had he been hit squarely in certain spots.

“I literally risked everything for that,” said Lopez, 25 and a Las Vegas resident. “But I’m grateful that it happened the way it did.”

What he hopes they’ll see Saturday is what he terms “The Take Back.” Or the reclamation of what he believes is his rightful place in boxing.

He ends his nine-month layoff Saturday at Resorts World Las Vegas as a 140-pound junior welterweight against a man in Pedro Campa that he should definitely dismantle.

“I’m at peace. I’m at peace with myself,” he said this week. “With the world and everything around it.”

Moving on

He certainly wasn’t when he battled Kambosos, knowing he was also battling himself.

The previous promotion featured several postponements, each one wearing more and more on Lopez (16-1, 12 knockouts) amid what felt like a never-ending training camp. The weight cut was already draining enough for the sturdy and dense Lopez, likely contributing to the physical issues he battled the night of Nov. 27.

His courage doesn’t excuse the reckless approach and wild swinging that resulted in a first-round knockdown for Kambosos. A more tempered approach probably would have propelled him to victory.

His practical approach toward the loss would seem to signal growth. It wasn’t his first, he said, but actually his 21st counting the 20 he absorbed as an ambitious amateur.

“They’ve all made me who I’ve become today. Teofimo Lopez,” he said. “The only thing that I can say now is just — what do I want to leave behind? What is the Take Back? What is the Takeover?”

Lopez has had plenty of time to think about it while recovering from the loss to Kambosos — and the elbow and hand injuries that required surgery in February and March, respectively. He wants to become the undisputed 140-pound champion.

He wants more to entertain.

“You’ve got to know your field,” Lopez said. “When I’m in (the ring), it’s my canvas. It’s my art. It’s whatever I want to do with it. A wise man told me I have destiny is my hands. So it’s what we do with it.”

Starting over

He can start his trek toward undisputed supremacy Saturday by being refined and precise against Campa (34-1-1, 23 KOs), an aggressive 30-year-old fighter from Mexico tailor-made for Lopez to take out. What he can’t do is fight with reckless abandon, a lesson he learned the hard way against Kambosos.

He can’t take back the loss but he can “Take Back” control of his boxing career, so long as he’s composed like he claims to be.

“Staying activated, staying motivated and honestly becoming the greatest,” Lopez said. “I’m already great, but I just came back to add the ‘est’ at the end. … It’s going to be live. Teofimo Lopez. The Take Back. The Takeover. Coming back at 140. Looking forward to taking over the 140 division.”

No pressure.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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