Hulu Theater, Madison Square Garden:
Boy, Triller truly dropped the ball on this one. After snagging the IBF mandatory fight between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr it was Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing that comes out with a well; “triller” of a fight. Over the course of just 13-months the 135-pound straps have gone from Vasiliy Lomachenko to Teofimo Lopez, to now “Ferocious”. But can Kambosos own lightweight.
The 28-year old Australian helped provide a super war, amazing upset, all while being the boxing’s version of “the little engine that could”. Coming into the fight he sat as a 13-1 underdog as once again Kambosos was “the road team”. And it came in the eighth try at this fight in its fifth venue.
Both fighters had to deal with outside the ring family drama. But once fight week arrived, Lopez (and Lopez Sr) were the aggressors. And it only got worse as the week went on, as he’d tell Kambosos to be humble. Lopez continued to predict a first round knockout. And in fairness, he was almost right. Just the other way.
Will this go down as a Hagler versus Hearns or Gatti against Ward type war? No, but with the straps on the line, the pressure built up, it can definitely join the pantheon of great battles. And both fighters didn’t hide what their game plan was. However, that aggressiveness almost cost Lopez with a solid right that was there all night.
Both fighters had their opponent in trouble. But with Kambosos’ heart, discipline, and defense it helped set up the split decision win (114-113 Teo, 115-111 and 115-112 the other way). According to CompuBox the flurry of shots fired from Kambosos were at a 739-565 advantage, and outlanded Lopez 182-176.
Can Kambosos Own Lightweight
Immediately after the decision, Devin Haney who had a handshake deal with Hearn, and Lopez to battle sent this out:
As long as he gets past a tough JoJo Diaz next, that fight should happen. Although everyone now wants the smoke from the Spartan. Case in point from “KingRyan”:
My return fight I’ll fight Kambosos 🥊👀— RYAN GARCIA (@RyanGarcia) November 28, 2021
Lopez hits hard, and Kambosos frustrated him. But there’s at least one that hits a lot harder in Gervonta Davis. Garcia has some of the best hand speed in all of boxing. And Haney is better defensively than Lopez, and can pick him apart from the outside. Don’t think that in two weeks if Lomachenko gets past Richard Commey, he won’t want another crack at the belts he held. Especially since he won’t have to deal with the attitudes from Team Lopez; and can out box him from a million different angles.
The one thing truly in the corner for Kambosos is the power of self belief. Not too far behind that is his volume striking. All the other top lightweights have holes in their mental games. However, for Kambosos to truly be the lone face at 135, will be incredibly tough. Because just one closed fist in the right spot trumps a strong mental game.
Can Kambosos Own Lightweight; Does It Make Sense To Run This Back
For a fleeting second it appeared that two warriors would squash their beef. They embraced, their fiery fathers embraced, Kambosos offered to do it again in Australia. However; things then went back to being sideways. Lopez just had to chime in during Kambosos’ post fight comments to say he won the fight 10 rounds to two, drawing boos from his home crowd.
Because of the high stakes, and the way the fight turned out, it would be great to see it a second time. But that’s only known thanks to hindsight. While it would be good to see Lopez move to 140 and face Josh Taylor, he doesn’t necessarily deserve the chance to go up and walk into an undisputed opportunity. Either a Regis Prograis or Jose Zepeda, or possibly both would be a good measuring stick for him there first.