BACK TO K-9 KIM’S CORNER

By Steve Kim Updated on November 30, 2021

Man at Work

A funny thing happened at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. What was thought to be a rather easy and routine title defense for lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, who was matched with 13-to-1 underdog, George Kambosos, was anything but. 

It turned out Kambosos never read the script.

To paraphrase 'Duke' Evers from Rocky: He didn't know it's was a damn show, he thought it was a damn fight.

Instead of getting folded early and playing the willing role of cannon fodder, the native of Australia, floored Lopez in stunning fashion at the end of the first round, and for much of the night, out-hustled, out-boxed and out-fought the favored Lopez. At the end of the night, he had his hands raised in victory via split decision. 

Melina Pizano for Matchroom Sports

"A lot of people were against me that didn't believe I'd do it," Kambosos told SNAC.com. "But there was one person who believed it I'd do it --- and that was myself. I didn't just beat him, but I really beat him up. I busted him up, I hurt him real bad. I shocked the world, I've got all the belts, now."

There was no take over on this evening.

While Lopez forecast a first round knockout, the problem was that he didn't account for the other 11 that followed. 

Kambosos believed he had full control of the bout, "As soon as the bell went because I knew when he came out crazy, I said, 'Beautiful, he's emotional, I'm going to catch him.'" Which is exactly what he did as he sent Lopez on the seat of his pants with a booming over hand fight near the end of the opening stanza.

 

Ed Mulholland for Matchoom Sports

As for the fateful 10th, when Lopez returned the favor by scoring his own knockdown, for a spell it looked as though that he would find a way to retain his WBO, WBA and IBF titles.

"I wasn't hurt," Kambosos claimed. "I was actually more frustrated because I was picking him apart. I got a little too excited in round nine and ten with the fans. I actually tried to put my foot on the pedal and take this kid out. I went away from the game plan a little bit, and when he did land that shot, it wasn't a great shot, it was more of me making a mistake.''

After surviving the round, he had this message for his corner, "Y'know what? That was my fault, he didn't do anything spectacular there, I'm going to punish him now for two rounds."

Lopez was never able to regain that momentum in the final six minutes,  and when the scorecards were read both Glenn Feldman (115-112) and Frank Lombardi (115-111) had him up, overruling the tally of Don Trella (who had Lopez ahead, 114-113).

Bottom line, they got it right. 

Ed Mulholland, Matchroom Sports

People can state the Lopez may have overlooked the relatively unknown challenger, or that he suffered from ring rust, and maybe his weight cut effected his performance,  but none of that really matters. Lopez lost and his momentous victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko is now a distant memory. 

It was 13 months ago that Lopez pulled off the upset, but since then his career has been beset by questionable decisions outside the ring that seemed to directly effect his performance inside of it. The 24 year old Lopez didn't suddenly forget how to fight, but the blade that had once been so sharp as he vanquished Richard Commey, and then Lomachenko, is dulled due to recent inactivity.

What should have been a launching pad to bigger and better things, instead became an enterprise in greed, hubris and delusion. 

Since the end of 2019 (when Lopez won his first title), he has fought just twice in the past 23 months. In the calendar years of 2020 and 2021, he performed just once. There was a time when Lopez was thought to be the leader of the new school, now you have doubts about his long term future, as he moves up to the junior welterweight class.

 

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

Admittedly you can accuse me of being a prisoner of the moment, but as someone who once drove the 'Teofimo Express', it's hard to overlook the constant issues that surround him. Generally there is a certain amount of stability outside the ring from your stars, although there was always something in regards to the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao, who were no stranger to out-of-the-ring distractions. Yet, through it all, they always found a way to overcome.

Against Kambosos, he fought not with a sense of urgency, but with a sense of entitlement. As if he was expecting his opponent to capitulate at his whim. And while he landed some hard punches, Kambosos never hesitated to land quick combinations in return, and he consistently won exchanges with his faster hands.

But this should really be about the winner, because the overall effort of Kambosos should not be forgotten about. When faced with his moment of reckoning late in the fight, he stayed true to his Spartan roots, while Lopez sputtered down the stretch. 

Melina Pizano for Matchroom Sports

While most of the focus on the Triller snafu focused on the plight of Lopez, it was Kambosos who put in long camps in the States while his wife was pregnant. His manager Peter Kahn explained to SNAC that after a 12 week camp in Miami for the original June date, once that fight was postponed (as Lopez came down with Covid) Kambosos had to quarantine for two weeks by himself as he returned to Australia. ("In a room where he couldn't up the door for 4 days," Kahn pointed out.)

As this fight was rescheduled, he trained for 10 weeks in Australia in the midst of their lockdown. Former lightweight contender Lenny Zappavigna was his only sparring partner for this camp, which then finished up in Florida. His grandfather passed away a couple of months ago in the lead-up to this event.  

Kambosos said of this ordeal, "We went through a lot, but I kept that tunnel vision. I stay focused, I stay composed. I didn't take my foot off the pedal. Not once did I say, 'I've had enough, I'm going to take some time off.' Because I knew this moment would come, it would eventually come.

"Even if it were a years time, I would've kept preparing like a man possessed because it really was a war of attrition. Small battles, they ultimately lead to victory of war. We got the job done by any means necessary."

And now he is...in his own words: the emperor of the lightweight division.

"'I'm the guy who beat the man, who beat the man. So I'm the man now."

Ed Mulholland for Matchroom Sports

 

DOWN UNDER

In the immediate aftermath of his victory, the 28 year old Kambosos, who resides in Sydney, spoke of having a title defense in Australia.

The next challenger better pack a Vegemite sandwich.

"That's exactly what we're going to do," confirmed Kahn, who alongside promoter, Lou DiBella, will be mapping out his immediate future. "It looks like April, pick a top 15 guy, defend the title, build an audience, and have people come out to see their new national sports hero."

Kahn makes it clear, "We're in control. We have the leverage."

Kambosos plan on being in Las Vegas this weekend as Devin Haney faces Joseph Diaz.

"I'm the top dog, now," he stated. "So I want to see guys earn their shot. Obviously, there's a good fight coming up this week. I want to see some good action. I want to see if these guys earn it, then we'll sit down and talk. But at the moment, I'm enjoying what I achieved (on Saturday night)."

 

FINAL FLURRIES

The bout between Stephen Fulton and Brandon Figueroa was a good one. I had Fulton edging it. 'Scooter' is now the WBC and WBO 122 pound champion.... A guy that wants a shot at Fulton, is former unified champion, Danny Roman, who just happens to be rated number one in that division by both sanctioning bodies....Amir Khan-Kell Brook is another 'hot tube time machine' match-up....It's obvious that USC takes their football program seriously....Should Jordan Davis of Georgia be the Heisman Trophy winner?....The New England Patriots keep blowing people out methodically, week after week....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com....

 

 

About Author
Man at Work
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.