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Teofimo Lopez Just Crowned Himself the Prince of Boxing and He's Coming for the King

Teofimo Lopez knocked out Richard Commey Saturday to win the IBF lightweight championship.
Teofimo Lopez knocked out Richard Commey Saturday to win the IBF lightweight championship. | Mikey Williams/Top Rank

The Takeover was proposed. Suggested. Alleged. And over the course of 2017 and 2018, the seed for a bang-bang breakout was planted in no uncertain terms, as Teofimo Lopez tore through dreamers, pretenders, up-and-comers alike in boxing's lightweight division.

Though we may never see anything from him quite as visceral as his first-round knockout of Mason Menard on Heisman Trophy night one year ago -- seriously, find that YouTube video and watch it 50 times -- this year's follow-up iteration Saturday at Madison Square Garden was truly the moment in which #TheTakeover grabbed boxing by the neck.

12uppercut was in attendance for Lopez's second-round TKO win over IBF lightweight champ Richard Commey, and can confirm the explosive energy coursing through the building as the 22-year-old phenom dropped him far, far earlier than we could have expected. It all but confirmed that this co-main event was a lot more significant than pound-for-pound ace Terence Crawford's nightcap against Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

After all, it was the moment in which Lopez's achievements had finally matched his massive hype. That his talent, as promising as it appeared to be, was as authentically real as a flush right hand to the dome. After all, you can't set up a 2020 showdown with all-world superstar Vasiliy Lomachenko -- the realization of what was always the best-case scenario for the Brooklyn-born-and-raised brawler -- based solely on hype.

You gotta have that other thing.

Lopez always looked the part. His knockout highlight reel, after all, is longer and flashier at his tender age (and 135 tender pounds!) than even a seasoned heavyweight bruiser ought to hope for. But Commey, an able champion who both won and defended the IBF belt by knockout, was supposed to give this kid the biggest test of his career. To force him to show what he's ultimately made of when the game plan falls apart.

Instead, Teofimo delivered his most impressive, game-changing performance to date. And he did it at the World's Most Famous Arena, striking a swaggering stiff-arm pose in a Joe Burrow LSU jersey amid a deluge of flashbulbs and finishing things off with one of his signature backflips.

But, it wasn't a trophy that Lopez earned himself Saturday night. It wasn't just that IBF belt, either -- it's a crown. The Prince of Boxing announced himself by sieging the gates of the big time with that thunderbolt right hand, and was duly anointed by King Lomachenko after the fight as a member of his "club."

And with a unification super-fight against Loma himself now penciled in for April, his rise to royalty ain't done.