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WBO Confirms Teofimo Lopez Is Still Champion Despite Retirement Announcement

WBO Confirms Teofimo Lopez Is Still Champion Despite Retirement Announcement featured image
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 13: Teofimo Lopez Jr. poses as he is introduced before a junior welterweight fight against Pedro Campa at Resorts World Las Vegas on August 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lopez won the fight with a seventh-round TKO. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Following his win over Josh Taylor on June 10th, Teofimo Lopez announced his retirement from boxing and affirmed as such in later weeks. Despite his announcement, the WBO still considers Teofimo Lopez the WBO champion of the super lightweight division as confirmed recently when they denied Arnold Barboza Jr.’s request to be considered the mandatory challenger. Barboza is currently the #1 contender on the WBO’s super lightweight rankings.

While the WBO did acknowledge that Arnold Barboza Jr. (28-0, 10 KO’s) filled the requirement to be deemed their mandatory challenger of the super lightweight division, they decided against positioning him as such due to Teofimo Lopez (19-1, 13 KO’s) being allowed a period of 9 months to defend his title against any top 15 contender, due to him having recently won his WBO title.

Following this voluntary period, any WBO contender deemed as a worthy mandatory challenger will be considered for the position if they launch a petition, including Arnold Barboza Jr. Though this is all standard protocol for the sanctioning body, WBO also seems to affirm that Teofimo Lopez is still a champion despite his announcement of being retired.

What is peculiar is that WBO president Francisco Valcarcel had confirmed Teofimo Lopez’ retirement himself roughly a month ago, yet Lopez is still rated as the WBO champion on their own ranking boards. As such, despite Teofimo Lopez’ own announcement of being retired, there is reasonable doubt as to whether this is truly the case given the WBO’s current stance suggesting otherwise.

The WBO is always at liberty to change their direction however, and if deemed necessary Teofimo Lopez can always be stripped of his title to bring a resolution to the WBO title. There is, however, some risk in not relinquishing Teofimo Lopez’ title given his retirement statement as the division can remain stagnant.

High-ranking fighters such as Arnold Barboza Jr. are well-placed in the WBO rankings, but not necessarily on the ranking boards of other sanctioning bodies. If Teofimo Lopez remains absent too long without any intention to fight, this ‘voluntary period’ where Lopez was supposed to defend his title will only work adversely for high-ranking contenders.

While fighters like Barboza can continue to stay active, their position on the WBO ranking boards will not necessarily benefit their careers if Lopez will not fight during this voluntary period of nine months. Instead, the WBO belt could be vacated to create a new champion, while Teofimo Lopez can be placed as the champion in-recess to allow him the chance to fight for a world title upon the end of his apparent retirement.