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Teofimo Lopez's next steps? WBO junior welterweight champion opens up about looming custody battle

Just minutes after reigniting a promising career that appeared to stall in recent years, Teofimo Lopez was talking about retirement.

‘Now, just to stir it up, I might retire,’ he said ringside after easily beating Josh Taylor by unanimous decision on Saturday in New York to win the Scotsman’s WBO junior welterweight title. ‘I’m not getting paid enough. A million dollars? Get the f*** out of here.’

Lopez (19-1) isn’t really retiring, and a TopRank spokesperson said he actually earned more than $1million Saturday.

In any case, the 25-year-old Brooklynite said he needs to ‘take a break’ because he’s ‘tired of everybody bullying me’ — an apparent dig at the negative press he’s received.

Now that he’s a champion again in a new weight class, Lopez said he isn’t rushing to find a new opponent. Instead, his next battle is in court, where he hopes to win custody of his young son, Junior, after a difficult divorce.

Teofimo Lopez celebrates after defeating Josh Taylor at the Madison Square Garden Theater

Teofimo Lopez celebrates after defeating Josh Taylor at the Madison Square Garden Theater

Teofimo Lopez is gearing up for a custody battle with his ex-wife for their son, Junior

Teofimo Lopez is gearing up for a custody battle with his ex-wife for their son, Junior

Junior Lopez

Junior Lopez

Teofimo Lopez is gearing up for a custody battle with his ex-wife for their son, Junior

‘I was with somebody for five years,’ Lopez said. ‘They gave me a hard time and really screwed me up, mentally. I can’t really express too much because we’re going through the legal custody [process].’

Not too much is known about his private life, although he was married to a Honduran woman whom he reportedly met on a flight early in his career. Nowadays, though, his Instagram account is filled with pictures of his young son, boxing, and little else. 

Lopez was in a far different mood Saturday at the Madison Square Garden Theater than he was after his last fight — a disappointing split-decision win over Sandor Martin.

At the time, following the win, Lopez could be heard asking ‘do I still have it?’

The question seemed appropriate amid Lopez’s two-year tailspin. 

Since upsetting Vasiliy Lomachenko by unanimous decision in 2020, Lopez has fought only four times, including his 2021 split-decision defeat to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. — a fight that was delayed after the Brooklyn native tested positive for COVID-19.

Lopez and Taylor shared a post-fight hug after Saturday's bout in New York City

Lopez and Taylor shared a post-fight hug after Saturday's bout in New York City

Lopez and Taylor shared a post-fight hug after Saturday’s bout in New York City 

Along the way, Lopez has alienated fans and promoters, both of whom have grown frustrated with the mercurial talent and controversial statements. 

Most recently, he confessed to wanting ‘to kill’ Taylor in Saturday’s fight, which is the sort of thing that’s frowned upon in boxing, sports, and all walks of life.

But again, things were much different for Lopez on Saturday, and he apologized to Taylor in a post-fight interview: ‘I think let my emotions get the best of me. I do not want to take your life. I want to you to go back to your family. I apologize as a man.’

For that matter, Lopez’s attitude about himself seemed drastically different as well.

Where he was questioning his future in the sport in 2021, now he’s comparing himself to the best in boxing after conquering his second weight class.

‘Absolutely, I only get better,’ he said. ‘That’s what it’s all about.

‘Two Hall of Fame careers in one at just 25,’ he said. ‘You cannot tell me I’m not great. You can’t tell me I’m not the double greatest since Muhammad Ali. This is what I do best.’

Lopez does have good options whenever he chooses to return to the ring.

Teofimo Lopez (L) celebrates with his dad Teofimo Lopez Sr (R) after defeating Josh Taylor,

Teofimo Lopez (L) celebrates with his dad Teofimo Lopez Sr (R) after defeating Josh Taylor,

Teofimo Lopez (L) celebrates with his dad Teofimo Lopez Sr (R) after defeating Josh Taylor,

Jack Catterall (27-1) lost a controversial split decision to Taylor before beating Darragh Foley last month, and would make for a strong opponent. Similarly, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez — both of whom are 28-1 — could also make for an entertaining fight. 

But Lopez wasn’t thinking about any of them on Saturday at the MSG Theater. Instead, he seemed like someone who was ready to turn the page on the last few years, which have clearly taken their toll on him, both personally and professionally.  

‘I would just go back to my ex wife and that would give me more issues, more problems,’ Lopez said of his recent struggles. ‘And it was taking me away from my boxing.

‘Boxing is my wife,’ he declared before exiting his post-fight interview. ‘I married it at 17-years-young. That’s my first wife and I can’t disrespect my love.’

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