Former champion Teofimo Lopez recovered from his first pro defeat with a seventh round TKO of Mexican journeyman Pedro Campa in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Lopez, 25, hit Campa with an upward jab on round 7 before pinning his foe to the ropes and offloading with a flurry of overhand rights that prompted referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight at 2:14.
The Top Rank Boxing at ESPN main event was Lopez’s first ring action since a November loss to George Kambosos, in which he dropped four lightweight titles in ESPN’s Upset of the Year.
The bout also marked Lopez’s junior welterweight debut, and early on, his strength didn’t have its usual impact. Though he wasn’t sharp to begin with, Lopez never ran into much trouble against the 13-1 underdog (according to Caesars Sportsbook).
“We’ve been at 135 (lbs) for about nine years, it killed my body,” said Lopez, who had a minor esophageal tear when he fought Kambosos after a tumultuous training camp. “…We want Josh Taylor…We want (Regis) Prograis, we want (Jose) Zepeda, that’s what we want. We want to be world champions in two divisions.
“I’ll take all those boys and take away all their dreams. I’m here to be their nightmare.’
Taylor, Prograis and Zepeda belong to the class of Lopez’s new division. Campa, 30, is definitely below that. His face had twisted round after round and when the fight ended, his left eye swelled shut and his nose was spitting blood.
Fighting out of Las Vegas, 25-year-old Lopez seemed to land at will, but it wasn’t necessarily a statement-making achievement after the second-longest hiatus of his career.
When Lopez (17-1, 12 KOs) last took the ropes, he took a win over Vasiliy Lomachenko and was widely recognized as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
Campa (34-2-1, 23 KOs) wasn’t talented enough to cause trouble, nor the kind of test that could show Lopez’s willingness to compete for a title in a new weight class.
A title shot is unlikely to come in his next fight, which is slated for December 10 in New York. Taylor will likely fight Jack Catterall in a rematch on November 26, while Prograis and Zepeda will battle it out for a vacant title this fall.
Xander Zayas, one of the most touted boxers, scored a fifth round KO of Elias Espadas (22-5, 15 KOs) in the headrest fight.
The 19-year-old Puerto Rican scored a knockdown in the opening round with a left hook and finished the 31-year-old Mexican in round 5 to improve to 14-0 with 10 KOs.