Teofimo Lopez stops Pedro Campa in 7th in return to ring

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Teofimo Lopez made a triumphant return to the ring, stopping Pedro Campa in the seventh round Saturday night at Resorts World Events Center.

Lopez made his debut as a 140-pound junior welterweight in his first fight since suffering the only loss of his career.

Moments after putting Campa on the canvas at the start of the seventh, Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) obliterated his outmatched opponent with a flurry of punches, prompting referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight at the 2:14 mark.

“I am grateful for this, I have returned,” Lopez said.

Campa dropped to 34-2-1.

The 25-year-old Lopez looked much more like the promising young fighter who captivated the world when he beat Vasily Lomachenko to claim the unified lightweight championship in 2020.

Campa, who relies on a straight-forward approach and hard-firing punches, struggled to land much, as Lopez stayed active throughout the fight and displayed impeccable defense.

On the attack, Lopez was much faster and crisper with his punches, landing 52% of his power punches, per CompuBox.

“I got to work a little bit more on some things, but overall it was good,” Lopez said of his performance. “It’s been a while. There was a lot on my mind. I nearly almost died (in) the last fight, so that was weighing on my mind, I had to clear it out.

"Going in there, I’m not afraid to die, but the last thing I want to do is not have my son have a father.”

It was only nine months ago Lopez hit a career low when he lost as a huge favorite to George Kambosos Jr. by split decision.

But the loss to Kambosos in New York City on Nov. 27 was later overshadowed by the news he fought with a condition called pneumomediastinum and had extensive air in the retropharyngeal space, per a report by ESPN, something he didn’t learn about until after suffering his first-ever loss.

“That was weighing on my mind, but I had to get that guy out, somehow, someway,” the Brooklyn fighter said.

Leading up to the seventh, Lopez was the aggressor, staying in pursuit and consistently peppering Campa’s face while absorbing shots and shaking off apparent ring rust.

Lopez appeared to back off in the fourth and fifth a bit, perhaps logging rounds while preserving energy, but returned to an active role and landed several combinations in the sixth.

“Little by little those punches are gonna add up and eventually it’s gonna hurt them,” Lopez said. “It may not do it right away, but in due time it’ll get them out.

“This is a blessing, man. Time is something we don’t get back.”

Earlier, Xander Zayas (14-0, 10 KOs) stopped Elias Espadas (22-5) in the fifth round, delivering a devastating right hook to the jaw to claim the vacant WBO NABO junior middleweight title.

The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico was dominant from the start, scoring a knockdown in the first round, then using sharp combinations to wear down Espadas over the next three rounds before ending the fight with 2:36 left in the fifth round.

Per CompuBox, Zayas, who threw 60 punches per pound, landed 42% of his power punches while 27 of the 86 punches he landed were to the body.