By Keith Idec
FRISCO, Texas – Diego Magdaleno didn’t think twice Thursday.
The veteran lightweight recognizes Teofimo Lopez’s talent, yet yes, Magdaleno does believe the emerging, 21-year-old lightweight contender is overrated.
“I think so,” Magdaleno told BoxingScene.com prior to a press conference. “This is his 12th fight. He only has so much experience and this is the best opponent he’s had in front of him. So, it’s a big test for him. I’ve got everything to gain and he’s got everything to lose.”
The loquacious Lopez promised during a press conference at the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility that he isn’t about to lose to a 32-year-old southpaw who was stopped in the second round by former WBO lightweight champ Terry Flanagan three years ago. The Lopez-Magdaleno match will open an ESPN+ stream from Ford Center at The Star (midnight ET/9 p.m. PT).
“People, they’re talking very highly of me,” Lopez said, “so I have to back it up. … As the opponents get tougher, we’re gonna get better.”
Las Vegas’ Lopez scored one of the most memorable knockouts of 2018 in his last fight. His crushing right hand knocked out veteran Mason Menard (34-4, 24 KOs) just 44 seconds into their scheduled 10-rounder December 8 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Magdaleno has two losses – the aforementioned defeat to Flanagan and a 12-round, split-decision loss to Roman Martinez in April 2013. The longtime Las Vegas resident also has three times as much pro experience as Lopez and has sparred many rounds recently with Adrien Broner, Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza.
Magdaleno’s two fights in 2018 took place in Cancun, far away the bright lights beneath which Lopez has thrived. That makes Magdaleno feel like he is being underestimated entering their fight.
“Diego’s fought in Cancun his last two fights and it hasn’t been on mainstream in the United States, in front of everybody,” Magdaleno said. “And he’s been fighting on these big cards, being flashy, with the back flips, and people like that attention. You know what I mean? That’s what they’re used to seeing. It’s highlighted. It’s put right in front of them. It’s what’s recent for them. It’s what they know. They don’t know the wars and the experiences of what Diego has already been through. That’s gonna be the key to this fight.”
Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs) and Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KOs) will square off immediately before a main event that’ll pit Eleider Alvarez against Sergey Kovalev in an immediate rematch for Alvarez’s WBO light heavyweight title. Colombia’s Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) stopped Russia’s Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs) in the seventh round to win that championship August 4 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“This is the ultimate spot to be in,” Lopez said. “This is prime for me. This is the biggest fight of my career right now. This is gonna get me back into the world rankings. There’s titles on the line. This is a big fight and against a very young, hungry fighter. He comes in and he’s dangerous, because of how young he is. That’s the dangerous part of him. He’s reckless.
“But the key to this fight is my personal experiences, what I’ve already been through. You can’t overlook that. I’ve been in the ring, I’ve been through wars, I’ve fought guys who’ve had heavy hands, I’ve fought guys who were fast. I’ve fought every style of guy, so I’ve gotta bring everything I’ve got on fight night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.