Dynamic prospect Teofimo Lopez has designs on someday challenging unified lightweight world champion and pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, and while there is no guarantee the bout will happen, Lopez knows that if it does he first needs professional experience against a left-handed fighter.
That is the one of the key reasons why Top Rank, which promotes Lopez and Lomachenko, finalized a deal Thursday for southpaw and former world title challenger Diego Magdaleno face Lopez on Feb. 2, Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told ESPN.
Lopez and Magdaleno will square off in a scheduled 10-round bout on the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card at the Ford Center at The Star -- the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys -- in Frisco, Texas, on the eve of the Super Bowl.
Lopez-Magdaleno will open the ESPN+ portion of the main card at midnight ET, just before the Eleider "Storm" Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev light heavyweight world title rematch that headlines the show. Two other notable fights on the card, featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez in a defense against Carmine Tommasone and the vacant lightweight world title bout between Richard Commey and Isa Chaniev, will air on ESPN beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
"Teofimo wanted to fight a southpaw. He says find me a southpaw if he's going to fight Lomachenko eventually, so we started looking for a southpaw," Moretti said. "It's rare when somebody asks to fight a southpaw."
Top Rank found a reputable one in Magdaleno, who is easily the most significant opponent in Lopez's professional career so far.
The 32-year-old Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KOs), who used to be promoted by Top Rank -- and whose younger brother, former junior featherweight world titlist Jessie Magdaleno, still is -- has won three fights in a row. His last two bouts took place in Mexico earlier this year following a 19-month layoff after he suffered a second-round stoppage loss challenging then-lightweight world titleholder Terry Flanagan in his hometown of Manchester, England, in October 2015.
"Diego is a former world title challenger and he knows how to box very well," Moretti said. "We expect good competitive rounds in this fight, which is what Teofimo needs. Teofimo wants to fight all styles and southpaw being a style he wants to fight. He's thinking Lomachenko down the road, but for now it's Diego Magdaleno."
Lopez (11-0, 9 KOs), 21, is a Las Vegas resident who represented his parents' home country of Honduras in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is coming off a sensational performance on ESPN on Dec. 8, when he scored a 44-second, one-punch knockout with a right hand against Mason Menard in the opening bout of the ESPN tripleheader on the Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza card in New York. After the knockout, in a clip that went viral, Lopez did a back flip and struck the Heisman pose and donned the jersey of Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, who had received the award minutes earlier on the previous ESPN telecast.
Menard was supposed to be a step up in class for Lopez, but he took him out violently and quickly. Next up will be Magdaleno, of Las Vegas, a far more talented fighter.
"Diego isn't the biggest puncher, but between who he has sparred with and who he's been in the ring with I'm really interested to see how Teofimo handles him -- or doesn't," Moretti said.