SOMETIMES you get so used to seeing certain fighters win fights quickly that it comes as a surprise when they are extended and forced to go through the motions.

This was certainly the case tonight in Oxon Hill, Maryland, where lightweight Teofimo Lopez, usually so explosive and dominant, was unable to make a dent in Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani and had to go the full 12 rounds for the first time in his 14-fight pro career.

Lopez, 14-0 (11), was in the end a clear winner, by (somewhat harsh) scores of 118-110 (twice) and 119-109, but struggled to get to grips with the six-foot Nakatani and was disappointed he couldn’t have produced the kind of fireworks for which he has become known.

Asked about his performance, the 21-year-old from Brooklyn told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna, “Horrible. But it is what it is. The guy’s tall. From this point on, we’re only fighting guys my height.”

Nakatani, 18-1 (12), has held the OPBF lightweight belt since January 2014, and came into the fight with Lopez undefeated. He will, thanks to his awkwardness and durability, have taught Lopez more than any of the Americans previous opponents, the majority of whom were stopped by the NABF champion.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Having made it through this IBF eliminator, Lopez’s next fight is meant to be against IBF champion Richard Commey, 29-2 (26), a rangy, heavy-handed boxer-puncher from Ghana. “We’re going to fight Richard Commey, and after that, we’re getting all four belts against (Vasyl) Lomachenko,” said Lopez.

Despite going 12 rounds for the first time as a pro, and realising not every opponent he faces will succumb to his power, Teofimo Lopez has evidently lost none of his confidence.