Boxing has always been a sport of tales told from different perspectives. The narrative changes depending on who’s telling the story. Teofimo Lopez, the reigning unified lightweight world champion, unveils his version of the much-discussed sparring sessions with Devin Haney in an interview with Punsch Drunk Boxing.
The sessions, surrounded by a whirlwind of rumors and hearsay, took place on two separate occasions. According to Lopez, the first of these encounters took place at a fighting club in Las Vegas.
“It was a spirited bout,” Lopez reminisces. “Devin was throwing his jabs a lot, moving around the whole time. But he was also talking – a lot. The kid talks more than we were throwing punches, so it was a bit annoying. And then you’ve got his dad and his hikeman, trying to rile him up.”
The verbal interruptions, however, did not distract Lopez from his objective. “I remember looking at my father going into the sixth round,” Lopez recounts, a grin forming on his lips. “I told him, ‘watch what I do to him.’ And next thing you know, I’m stepping to the side, throwing a mean uppercut, just tearing him up. You’re talking about 12, 15 punches in seconds.”
The relentless assault led to the halting of the sparring session, but not before a request for a rematch was issued. This rematch was staged at Mayweather’s gym a few days later. With a prior understanding of each other’s styles, this second round of sparring had a different dynamic.
“Haney, he was still trying to talk his way through the session,” Lopez notes, his tone laced with bemusement. “But this time, I was ready. I was prepared to show my game, show my work.”
In reflection, Lopez feels that he was able to figure Haney out fairly quickly, but what he cherished most from the experience was a moment of realization he believes Haney experienced.
“After the sparring, he just goes down the stairs, sits there, just thinking,” Lopez muses. “I can see he’s pondering about what just happened, about his career. Because you face certain fighters, and you start questioning yourself. It’s a humbling experience.”
These sparring sessions, undoubtedly, added a unique layer to the narratives of both fighters. While it’s clear that Lopez emerged feeling confident, only time will tell how these encounters have shaped Haney. The real drama, however, would unfold when they meet again – this time, not as sparring partners, but as contenders in the ring.