By Sean Jones: Lightweight prospect Jose ‘El Rayo’ Valenzuela (8-0, 5 KOs) confirmed last Saturday night that the rumors of him having knocked out Teofimo Lopez in sparring are, in fact, true.
(Photo credit: Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions)
El Rayo says he stopped Teofimo, who is three years older than him, with a body shot.
In looking at how hard-hitting ‘El Rayo’ Valenzuela destroyed his opponent Nelson Hampton (7-4, 4 KOs) by a first-round knockout last Saturday night on the Brandon Figueroa vs. Luis Nery card at the Dignity Health Park, in Carson, California, it’s not surprising he was able to destroy Teofimo.
El Rayo is a tremendous puncher with either hand, particularly when going to the body.
What’s interesting is that El Rayo Valenzuela hasn’t received the same press as 135-pounders Teofimo, Ryan Garcia, Tank Davis or Devin Haney, but he’s got the potential of being one of the best.
Even at 21, El Rayo looks better than Ryan Garcia, Teofimo, and Haney. The power and the punch placement of El Rayo make him a threat to any of the top guys at lightweight.
The devastating puncher El Rayo, 21, said that he “twice” knocked out Teofimo in sparring several years ago before he made his pro debut in 2018.
Rayo confirms knocking out Teofimo
“It’s 100% truth, I stopped him in the first round to the body,” said Jose ‘El Rayo’ Valenzuela last Saturday night at the post-fight press conference intaking about him stopping Teofimo Lopez in sparring years ago.
“Right before my pro debut [in 2018], he [Teofimo] came back two weeks later, I stopped him again.
“We said six, and he did four. He only wanted four, so he didn’t come out for the fourth round, but that’s old news.
“I want to move forward, I want to get big stoppages like I did tonight, and keep getting better and have people talk about this and not about sparring that was years ago,” said El Rayo.
You can see the power in El Rayo’s body punching from his fight against Nelson Hampton last Saturday. He possesses scary power.
What’s impressive, though, is El Rayo was already a devastating body puncher three years ago when he was just 18 when he sparred the then 21-year-old Teofimo Lopez. For El Rayo to knockout Teofimo twice in a row says a lot about his punching power.
You can’t blame Teofimo for not coming back for thirds after what he experienced against El Rayo. He can’t take the body shots from him.
Valenzuela predicts Teofimo KO over Kambosos
“I haven’t watched too much of George Kambosos,” said Rayo Valenzuela when asked about his take on the June 19th fight between Teofimo Lopez and his IBF mandatory George Kambosos Jr.
“I’ve seen what I’ve seen. I think Teofimo will stop him. I don’t think Kambosos has fought anyone near [as good as Lopez] and is ready for that step. But it should be a good fight. I have Teofimo winning in five rounds.
“That’s a great fight,” said Rayo Valenzuela on the May 29th match between WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and Jorge Linares.
“I think that’s what Haney needed that fighter that would take him up over the hill to give him the respect that he deserves.
It’s going to be a great fight. I think Haney takes it. I think Linares is slowing down now, so perfect fight,” said El Rayo Valenzuela.
George Kambosos Jr is a small guy compared to the hulking Teofimo, who arguably should be fighting at 140, if not 147 already.
Kambosos has excellent speed and power for a lightweight, but he’s not going to be facing a normal 135-pounder on June 19th.
Teofimo is HUGE for the lightweight division, and without a rehydration clause to keep him from shooting up near 150 lbs on fight night, Kambosos Jr won’t have a prayer.
If they had same-day weigh-ins like in the past, we wouldn’t see as many weight bullies as we do today, but that’s how the sport is now.
Rayo wants Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Gonzalez next
“These prospects at 135 that aren’t champions,” said Rayo when asked who he wants to fight at lightweight next. “The bulldog guy from Mexico? [Isaac Cruz ‘Pitbull’ Gonzalez].
“That’s a great fight for me. I think that’s a great fight, he’s very tough, and I think that I’ll take the victory. And all these other guys that are there that are prospects.”
“I think Tank or Teofimo,” said Rayo when asked who the best fighter is at 135. “They both have so much momentum and the knockout power. That’s why I feel that I fit in there with these guys, as you saw. I’m a strong fighter.
“I think that’s a great move because I think he’ll beat [Mario] Barrios,” said Rayo when asked about his opinion on Tank Davis moving up to 140 to take on WBA ‘regular’ light welterweight champion Mario Barrios on June 26th.
“Barrios is a good fighter, but Tank has qualities that can adapt, and he’s strong enough to be at 140. I think Barrios is a perfect fighter for that, and he can get a title. It’s a great move.
“Yeah, hopefully, I can get on David’s undercard,” said Rayo when asked when he’ll be fighting again. “That’s what they told me. So I’ll be back in August.
“It was a first-round knockout with an overhand left. I felt very good, I felt very strong,” said Rayo about his knockout win over Nelson Hampton.
“I think I should have done better head movement because he got me with some silly shots that he shouldn’t have got me with. But I actually happy because I can learn from this, and he fought back unlike my last opponent.
“I’m definitely going to stay in this division . I can make weight really easy,” Rayo said on whether he’ll move up to 140 or stay at 135.
“I was actually thinking of going down to 130 because I make weight pretty easy. I would eat all week three times a day. No, I feel good, I feel strong. We’ll see what the future holds.
#2 IBF, #3 WBA Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Gonzalez (21-1-1, 15 KOs) is another talented lightweight that doesn’t get a lot of press from the media, but he’s an excellent fighter.
If El Rayo can knockout ‘Pitbull’ Gonzalez, that’ll shoot him up high in the rankings at 135 if he chooses to stay in this weight class rather than move down to 130.