SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 19, 2019 – The origins of the famous proverb “Youth must be served” have been lost to history. It holds true for the rising stars barely out of their teens featured on the undercard of Saturday’s welterweight championship between Terence “Bud” Crawford and Amir “King” Khan at Madison Square Garden. They don’t intend for a moment to be lost to history. Their goals are to make a big impression on the big stage they’ve been given at The Mecca of Boxing. The ESPN PPV televised card airs starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on ESPN-PPV.
Teofimo Lopez talks big, intends to back it up
In the co-main event, 2018 Prospect of the Year Teofimo Lopez of Brooklyn (12-0, 10 KOs) appears in his first 12 round fight againt Edis Tatli of Finland (31-2, 10 KOs). Tatli, age 31, a two time European lightweight champion, is making his U.S. debut in a big way. He’s never fought outside Finland. His biggest win to date wasn’t in a boxing ring. Tatli won the Finnish version of “Dancing With The Stars” late last year. See him in action in his winning freestyle routine with partner Katri Makinen.
“I came a long way for this fight because I know I can win,” said Tatli. “I have been in with the better fighters, and my talent will show on Saturday night. All fighters dream of fighting in America. To fight at Madison Square Garden on a card like this is a dream come true.”
Lopez is loved by some, hated by others. He’s outspoken to the point of braggadocious, brash, and doesn’t lack for confidence. When he knocks out an opponent, he dances, shimmies, and throws a backflip in the ring. Ask who his favorite fighter is, and he doesn’t hesitate. “Me. Because I’m just that great!”
Lopez promises fans haven’t seen nothing yet and promises to deliver. “People are coming to see me. What you guys are going to see is not just speed and power, but ring IQ. People want to see back flips and Fortnite dances and everything else.”
The even-keeled veteran Tatli isn’t letting Lopez or the big stage affect him. “I feel great, I can’t wait to get in the ring on Saturday. Everything has been going well, I’m enjoying my stay here.” Tatli believes the key to the fight for him is to box smart, to hurt Lopez early, and go from there.
Responding to the criticism of his ring antics, Lopez doesn’t apologize. “We do what we do just to entertain everybody. Not everyone’s going to like it. At the end of the day, I’m in co-main event. We’re on the move to greatness, everybody.”
He’s not wrong. Lopez should take care of business long before the championship rounds. The young man out of Brooklyn is a shooting star who commands attention. No one is lukewarm about the kid; you love his bravado or you hate his showboating. Lopez will get the chance to introduce himself to a broader audience, hoping to make his case for the opportunity to fight a title eliminator against Richard Commey of Ghana later in the year. Lopez wants this to lead to a fight with lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko. If you like ambitious young fighters, you’ve got to love the 21-year-old Lopez.
Shakur Stevenson steps up, takes a risk against Christopher Diaz
U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson of Newark (10-0, 6 KOs) faces his toughest opponent to date, Christopher Diaz of Puerto Rico (24-1, 16 KOs). Stevenson’s IBF Intercontinental title and the vacant NABO title will be up for grabs.
Diaz has just a single loss against WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito last July. Diaz survived the first knockdown of his career to finish the fight on his feet.
“Shakur made a mistake when he accepted this fight,”said Diaz. “I’m sure he’s going to be a world champion one day. He’s a very good fighter, but his team made a terrible error in judgment.”
“All fighters say this, but this was truly the best training camp of my career. This is my first fight with Freddie Roach, and we had perfect chemistry from day one. I’ve been sacrificing and training hard for three months. I am going to take his undefeated record. I am going to win this for my family and for Puerto Rico.”
Stevenson is coming off a first round knockout win over Viorel Simion of Romania, not a world beater but a good performance for the young Olympic silver medalist.
“I want to get great in the sport of boxing, and to be great you need to take risks,” said Stevenson. “The victory that I’m going to get tomorrow evening will mean everything in my career. I deserve a title shot after this.”
The 21-year-old Stevenson has gotten caught up in some unfortunate distractions outside the ring. He cannot afford to lose focus against Diaz, age 24. Diaz is determined and will have the Boricua fans in the house at MSG behind him.
Stevenson’s ambition is healthy, but he needs to slow his roll. Top Rank is carefully cultivating Stevenson as a homegrown star of the future. He’s still just 21 years old. Critics have questioned Stevenson’s long-term ability, but he has plenty of time to develop his skills.
In the opener, Felix “El Diamante” Verdejo of Puerto Rico (24-1, 16 KOs) fights former interim world champion Bryan Vasquez (37-3, 20 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight contest with potential world title implications.
Ademes vs. Galarza headlines ESPN opening broadcast
Prior to the evening’s PPV, five opening fights will air on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.
Leading the lineup is a super welterweight fight worth your attention. Carlos Adames of the Dominican Republic (15-0, 12 KOs) takes on hometown hero Frank Galarza of Brooklyn (12-2-2, 12 KOs). Adames is a heavy-handed power puncher who can stop a fight at any moment. He would love to put a win over a significant opponent like Galarza on his record.
Known as the “Notorious Rocky,” Galarza shares the same heart and will as his famous namesake. He has steadily worked his way back into contention after his first loss to Jarrett Hurd. His most potent weapon is his sheer heart. He needs to lean on his experience and maturity. He love nothing more than a good firefight, and it would be entertaining while it lasts. But Galarza has to restrain himself. His best approach is fighting smart behind a jab, stay busy, and move in and out of Adames’ range. The vacant NABF Super Welterweight title is at stake.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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