Editor's note: Vasiliy Lomachenko is three-fourths of the way to his goal of unifying boxing's lightweight division after defeating Luke Campbell Saturday in London. Only one major belt remains, and that title will belong to either current titleholder Richard Commey or mandatory challenger Teofimo Lopez once that fight is officially made for late in 2019.
Lomachenko seems poised and ready to fight either man once the opportunity comes together, and that seems particularly true when it comes to Lopez. Over the past couple of years, the 22-year-old upstart and his father have spoken often of their desire to face Lomachenko, with Lopez's father (also named Teofimo) having some harsh words for the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
So how does Lomachenko's final hurdle to unification play out? Former two-division world titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr. has the scouting report on how both Lopez and Commey would match up against Lomachenko in a potential fight with all four belts on the line.
How does Lopez match up with Lomachenko?
Bradley: He has to win the Commey fight first. I have doubts about that one. That's a tough fight for Lopez at this stage in his career.
He's a dangerous guy, but if you match him up with a guy like Lomachenko, well, it's going to be like high school trigonometry. It's going to be like trigonometry all over again for him. He's going to learn a little something about angle. He's going to learn about what you think is there is not always there.
I saw a lot of vulnerability in Lopez in his last fight. He got hit with some clean right hands by Masayoshi Nakatani. You can't get hit with those kinds of shots against a guy like Commey. You can't. Commey has lethal punching power in both hands.
You know how it looks from the outside and how it is in the inside, once you get in there with Lomachenko. I think Lomachenko's going to play around with Lopez. I think Lomachenko's going to punish him for saying the things that he and his father have said. He's going to punish him because his father kept picking on Lomachenko and disrespecting Lomachenko. I think Lomachenko's going to let the fight go on as long as he wants to go on. He's going to just pick the kid apart and leave him in pieces.
Lopez, at this point, has no way to turn around. He's put himself in this position, but like I said, first of all he has to get past Commey.
It will be a learning experience. I don't think it will hurt his career because he's still young in his career, but it will affect his pride. He'll gain a lot of experience from a loss to Lomachenko. It'd be a little piece of humble pie at the same time.
Even though he is a big 135-pounder, Loma, myself, I mean anyone that's at the top level understands what we witnessed when he fought Nakatani. To me, he was exposed, and he got exposed in a way where he was hit with right hands, almost too often, and he was never able to make that adjustment.
One of the defenses that Lopez likes to use is the catch and shoot. So, that's his thing, you know, similar to an Anthony Yarde, where they drop their left hand and they don't really use the left hand to block anything and they depend on shoulder roll. Well that's no special defense. He depends on the shoulder roll, and the way you beat the shoulder roll is a good jab, educated feet, come over the top with the right and then bring back the left hook, because their opponent is lined up for that type of punch.
Loma, being a southpaw, will probably land that straight left hand every time he pulls back with his hands -- his left hand down and his right hand up. I just see Loma slowly breaking him down and then stopping him. I see Loma stopping Lopez, I honestly do.
How does Commey match up with Lomachenko?
Bradley: These guys, they don't know. They don't understand trigonometry, they don't understand angles. Loma does, and it'd be the same problem for Commey as it would be for Lopez -- but I think it'd be even worse for a guy like Commey.
Richard Commey, he fights steady, stiff, not really a whole lot of upper-body movement. He throws punches wide. Loma will be able to time him with shots. Commey's only chance, honestly, is to catch Lomachenko, knock him on his behind and, and not let Loma get up. He's got to knock him out. That's the only way -- he has a puncher's chance, and that's it.
Commey will probably get stopped a lot sooner than Lopez will, because of the angles, because of the speed and because of how educated Lomachenko is. I take nothing away from Commey. He's a tough, tough guy, but there are levels to this game, man. There's levels, and Lomachenko is at the elite level. Commey is a great champion, but he's not elite.
Why are both of these matchups good for Lomachenko?
Bradley: I understand that the Lopez camp, they might feel a certain way because I'm saying it, but from my experience I'm saying if Lopez doesn't fix that defense, he will not last with Lomachenko. He will get peppered, and peppered, and peppered, until either his father throws in the towel, which he probably never will, or the kid won't even come out anymore, or he gets knocked out. He gets stopped, because Loma is going to punish him. I'm serious. He's going to punish him badly, because of all the talking that he's been doing.
And for Commey, he's like a robot. He's going to come forward, and he's going to fight, and he only knows how to fight one way. He doesn't know how to fight backing up. And as soon as Lomachenko figures that out, which will take probably a round or two, it's going to be over. He's going to start taking Commey apart, setting him up again and again [to] walk him into something.
Could Lopez show you anything against Commey that might shift your opinion?
Bradley: If Lopez can tighten up his defense and he can come behind his jab, come behind an educated jab and start setting up his offense, then he can give Lomachenko something. Some sort of resistance, because the kid is powerful, he is young, and now we know he can go the distance, no problem. But that's what he's going to need to do. He's going to have to go back to the drawing board, and I'm not sure if his father did take him there. His father has embedded this style in him, which caused tons of problems for him, getting hit with the right hand over and over and over again by a taller guy.
As far as the Richard Commey fight goes, I mean, Lopez can win that fight. He's the more athletic fighter. He's the more skillful fighter. But there's one thing that Richard Commey does very well. He has that grit, that determination, and when he takes a licking he keeps on ticking. If you don't hurt him, if you don't really hurt him, then he's going to take you out. He's got punching power with both hands, and he's dangerous during every second of a fight.
Lopez will have to be on his A-game. If he's not on his A-game against Commey, he's going to lose the fight. Not just lose it, he's going to get knocked out.