By Tré Berry III🖊️ | 10/13/2020
Just being around IBF Lightweight Champion 🇭🇳🇺🇸Teofimo “Takeover” Lopez (15-0-0, 12KO👊), you get an immediate sense of aura at his events that radiates a certain level of connectivity that you rarely see with boxers and their core backing, most notably with their own home fans. Teofimo Lopez was raised in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, and he has quickly become 🗽New York’s most popular active fighter, as well as one of boxing’s most ⚡electrifying young talents that have captured the imagination of a certain contingent of fans who have gone quite some time without having that like-minded athlete that they could personally identify themselves with. In this article, I will explore the many different reasons as to why Teofimo has become so popular in the world of boxing, a captivity over the public that far supersedes the level of talent that he carries with him inside the ring when it’s time to let the hands do the talking.
While I did see something deeper than the surface of talent upon my introduction to Teofimo Lopez back in 2017, it personally took me a long time to 📌pinpoint exactly what it was that galvanized my cities public (I was born & raised in New York). There’s a certain flair and spontaneity to whom he is as a character, and many fans throughout the city have been pulled in to his orbit not just to see him bomb out his competition (that of course has much to do with it), how he does it, what will he do after his fights, and what will he ultimately say when a microphone is cast in front of him.
Networks and hardcore pundits in boxing have taken notice as well as Teofimo has flashed all the potential makings of a future box-office star attraction, and Promoter Bob Arum has given him a suitable platform where Lopez has been able to spread his wings and ultimately be himself, and at this point thus far in his young career, it is paying off rather nicely. It wasn’t until I was in attendance at MSG for his IBF Title shot against 🇬🇭Richard Commey last year where I finally found the missing link to the equation I was searching for, and it came at a rather odd moment as Choreographer/dancer and homegrown city-favorite 🇵🇷Rosie Perez was shown on the big screen as a build up to Commey and Lopez upcoming contest.
A little insight into my personal world…I had it BAD for Rosie Perez dating back to her time as a dancer on Soul Train back in the 80’s. Rosie typically comes out to many functions around the city, and is an avid boxing fan who always comes out to the events, so it has become customary to see her around where the action is, and has always been a personal pleasure of mine to see her in attendance wherever she goes. There was a short monologue shown on the big screen of her discussing her support for Teofimo while he 📈ascended his way through the contender ranks, and it was there where I figured out exactly where the connection between he and his fans are rooted at.
Looking deeper into what makes Teofimo Lopez the marquee attraction he has grown into – 🤔he is athletic, an explosive puncher, brash, charismatic, can be classified as walking entertainment, and carries a certain flare about him. Now when I mapped out all of those individual qualities, it immediately clicked for me personally. Who does Teofimo remind me of? well…fighting style completely cast aside, he reminds me a lot of a young Camacho from the mid 1980’s.
Puerto Rican legend 🇵🇷Hector “Macho” Camacho (79-6-3, 38KO👊) was one who had a penchant for the limelight and had a certain flare for the dramatic that was a 🌉perfect bridge that connected his exploits in the ring back to his roots in East Harlem. Camacho especially in the 80’s was without a doubt the perfect representative of the hood known as “El Barrio”.
Everything that Hector Camacho did could be categorized as “substantive style”, where the initial bombastic talk was backed up by the action that effectively gave his words ground for his legs to stand on – a life style synonymous with the times and the budding movement that was rising to fruition at a rapid pace during the mid 1980’s. What was that movement I’m speaking of? none other than Hip-Hop, at the point where it was ascending into its Golden-Years, stepping out to the forefront to where it began to garner widespread interest.
( EAST HARLEM – 104TH STREET AND LEXINGTON AVENUE – PICTURED BELOW )
What is synonymous with 📼hip hop? expression, confidence, swagger, loving what you do and finding a way to do it in style. Infusing the classic latin culture and associating it with hip hop was instrumental as well, as it tapped into a specific demographic that was in need for representation.
Now when transitioning it into boxing’s platform, you look at a Hector Camacho, and I don’t believe there was a more boastful, colorful character around than Camacho, who wore his Boricua origins on his sleeve, and who never turned down an opportunity to self promote, be great, and tell you how great he was before, after, and even sometimes during fights.
Now that that is specified, when you look at Teofimo Lopez, he shares much of the same type of character traits. His flash is a bit different than Camacho’s flash, who (Macho) would come out in some of the craziest costumes that you would ever see perhaps aside from 🇲🇽Jorge Paez, but Teofimo’s flare is more concentrated in his natural way of him exuding his confidence, looking to always put on a show, and get the job done in style, while capturing the tone of the moment.
His post-fight antics with the dancing, taunts & fort-night celebrations are instrumental in connecting him to a younger audience who are always looking for something new and fresh to attach themselves to and identify with. The one drastic difference between the 2, Camacho didn’t have much power. His “wow” factor in the ring was with his blinding unmatched level of hand-speed, and his all-around creativity, whereas Teofimo (while fast himself to a lesser degree), is an explosive athlete with battering rams for fist.
Lopez likes to talk trash before his fights, but he is dead-set on proving himself each and every fight as he operates with a chip on his shoulder. His 🎤postfight interviews, he is good at galvanizing a crowd and getting them to hone in on his overall message. Bringing spontaneous excitement before, during & after fights is part of the Teo charm that he has tapped into since a void was left by Camacho’s departure from boxing.
Taking a scope and analyzing what boxers from New York were able to captivate this specific audience, a few top notch prominent boxers come to mind that covered bits and pieces of the overall criteria. 🇺🇸“Iron” Mike Tyson in many ways hit on many of those 📍bulletin points, and gained those fans throughout the years while he ascended into that of a globally recognized star, but it wasn’t quite the same captivity that Camacho was able to tap into during his prime years to grasp the specific type of fan-base that I am going in-depth on in this article – the flair portion of the equation was missing, as Tyson at the end of the day was all business, with limited quotable’s, entering the ring in his customary black shorts, black shoes, and draped with his white towel with the middle portion cut out, looking to solely seek and destroy his opponent. You had someone like 🥈🇺🇸Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe, who was great, but had no charismatic traits about him.
🇺🇸Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi in some ways did embody what was missing, as he was every bit the showman that you would expect him to routinely be, but he wasn’t that elite level fighter to where he could really drive the antics home and broaden the imagination of the public, plus his power wasn’t there to give you that 📽️highlight reel moment that us fans have come to crave from the sports biggest entertainers.
🇺🇸Daniel “Miracle Man” Jacobs has been a great leading man coming out of Brooklyn, and standing as New York’s current best fighter, but he doesn’t quite have the marketable draw gene that we have been specifying with the other mentioned candidates, though his skills are widely noted, and revered.
Now one could say that 🇺🇸Danny “Swift” Garcia has tapped into the market in which I specified, referenced to his flash outside of the ring, and the punching power that he possesses in it – however there are a couple components missing for him in this category. While Danny has carved out an excellent career for himself, one could call him an overachiever, which is obviously something you want to be in any capacity.
It also reflects that seeing Danny come up, he lacked the explosiveness in terms of speed, unpredictable movements and spontaneous moments inside and outside of the ring that didn’t capture the imagination of the broad spectrum of fans to envision limitless ends toward what was achievable at the true 🔝top echelon of the sport, and in the circle of fame.
When you look at Teofimo’s skill-set, the general consensus wonders how far he can take his abilities, because he is clearly blessed with many components to his game, and his personality that most boxers today do not have, which makes Teo’s journey at this point thus far more interesting to follow.
The closest Post-Camacho star in that sense that we had produced was Brooklyn’s 🇺🇸Zab “Super” Judah, who had all the makings of an influential star to the inner city kids that were looking for that relatable figure that they could see themselves as, and it has translated pretty well to the current generation of boxers who looked to him for inspiration.
Many kids in the hood would cite Zab has one of their idols, and also being one of the biggest influences toward them getting into boxing in the first place. Now while Judah held a massive influence to those in the inner city, he wasn’t able to push the boundaries toward becoming superstar phenom status that merged different demographics.
Naturally, it is commonplace for us as a population to venture forth and seek out like-minded individuals who share many of the same traits of boxers from generations past that have influenced us personally at our core being in various different facets, whether it be a case of us 🪞identifying ourselves through the eyes and action of that person, or whether it be someone who we personally chose to be influenced by in an effort to pick up some traits that they possess that we ourselves are in search of in pursuit of bettering ourselves.
With that being stated, Teofimo in my eyes has stirred up some intrigue in the city that had been lost for years due to lack of representation in the sport at the Championship level, and had reanimated people who haven’t had the same type of connection to boxing since because of that. He successfully energized the streets of New York, and in return, his supporting fan-base has 🚀skyrocketed to great heights.
Teofimo Lopez at the age of 23 holds a ring of 🔑keys to aid his future, and he stands in a proverbial corridor with multiple locked doors surrounding him. The next step in his maturation stage is in becoming that 🔓locksmith to get able to navigate through those doors and taking full control of his own faculties, tapping into his full reservoir of abilities. He will have to deal with the natural process he will have to undergo with the dawn of his new platform in understanding how to maneuver as a sought after talent now that he has had a taste of the Title picture, and the gauze of the spotlight.
He has the tools necessary to achieve major things in the sport, so for him, it’s just a matter of keeping his head on straight and honing more of his craft on the job in live time as he walks down the path that he has worked hard to create. What is naturally built in for him though that he can hang his 🎩hat on is that spoken of bond with his hardcore fans, and the backing of a city who looked for someone identifiable to hitch their wagon to for quite some time in this current climate of boxing. With that being said, Teofimo has a wealth of hope from a large backing is heaped upon his shoulders.