In a fight that has been over six months in the making, George Kambosos dropped Teofimo Lopez in the opening round and won split decision to take over the lightweight division. Originally scheduled for June 2021 in Miami, Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 and after eight date changes and a change in promoters and broadcasters the fight came off. The seven to one underdog Kambosos entered Lopez’s backyard at Madison Square Garden off the back of two tight decisions over Lee Selby and Mickey Bey to become the mandatory challenger for Lopez. Not many observers had given Kambosos a chance and I myself was expecting a solid victory from Lopez on the way to bigger and better things. Fortunately, boxing like all sports is not scripted and the action must play out to allow a winner to emerge and earn the victory. Lopez approached the Australian challenger aggressively in the opening round as he tried to blitz him with big right hands to the head.
With the regularity that Lopez was scoring in the first round it looked like this was going to be a short night in his favor. Then suddenly a short right hand put Lopez down to a knee. Over the next few rounds Kambosos continued to box intelligently and build a lead. Lopez struggled to get a foothold and was not jabbing his way in or applying a great deal of pressure. By the middle of the fight he was breathing out of his mouth and by the tenth round he was bleeding. Lopez was cut around the left eye and from his nose and showed the damage of the exciting fight the two men had waged. With Kambosos well ahead on the judges scorecards Lopez scored a knockdown in the tenth round and with just under two minutes to go there was drama. Was Kambosos about to unravel with the title on the line? No, George finished the fight strong and recovered from being dropped while Lopez shot his guns and had little left in the final six minutes. Lopez tried to cry foul but was booed by his hometown crowd.
The twenty-four year-old Lopez made a huge splash in October of 2020 with an upset victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko to win the “undisputed” or “almost undisputed” title at lightweight. The young, brash champion decided to snub the highly regarded Lomachenko of an opportunity for a rematch and opted to move on. Lightweight entering this year was the hottest division in boxing and many were comparing it to the “fab four” era with Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. Four young lightweights all on the verge of facing each other and providing us fans with great fights for the years to come. Since the start of 2021 Ryan Garcia has pulled out of two fights and declined to face WBC titlist Devin Haney despite being the mandatory challenger. Devin Haney defeated Jorge Linares and publicly called out Garcia while also confronting Teofimo Lopez on DAZN to call him out. Haney has struggled to get certain fights but is filling in to face JoJo Diaz next weekend. Gervonta Davis has bounced between weight classes but hasn’t faced a top lightweight in a while and does not seem to be maneuvering toward the other three guys. Finally, Lopez just lost which makes fights with the other three less likely for now and he has unsurprisingly mentioned a move up to 140 lbs.
The whole “fab four” narrative of these four all facing each other in big time lightweight matches is looking less likely now. George Kambosos is not obligated to face Teofimo Lopez in an immediate rematch and his manager Lou DiBella feels they are in the driver’s seat and can weigh options. The Haney vs Diaz winner is an obvious front runner as it would fully unify the division, at least for those who recognize Haney’s WBC claim. Lopez defeated Lomachenko but he is not gone and could knock off one of the young stars on the rise. Kambosos may also have the staying power to reign for a little and possibly defeat one of the other “fab four”. Shakur Stevenson may also move up sooner than later as he continues to grow and mature and he could be a serious threat as well. Kambosos will have a hero’s welcome in Australia and is already a draw there, its likely anyone who challenges him will come there rather than him coming back here. It can be tough to win in Australia as a road fighter, just ask Manny Pacquiao about his experience of facing Jeff Horn in his backyard.
For Teofimo Lopez it is hard to find a bigger egg on the face moment for a fighter than what happened last night. Lopez after defeating Lomachenko over appraised his status and broke with promoter Bob Arum to sign with streaming service Triller to take an extremely lucrative fight with Kambosos. Arum at the purse bid put what he felt was the proper value on the fight and the new kid on the block Triller bid incredibly high. Lopez angered Arum and Top Rank by butting them out by taking the high bid and using it as a way to blast his promoter. Well it turned out to be too good to be true as the fight got delayed several times, the venue changed and eventually Triller seeing the financial train wreck ahead got out. Lopez was brimming with confidence and boasting which gave the impression he was looking past this fight. The world was at his feet, all he had to do was get by a challenger seen as a formality and then get the bigger fights. Lopez is three million dollars richer but this loss will greatly impact his next few pay checks. He has called out Josh Taylor the undisputed champion at 140lbs. but with the loss it is not likely that fight would be next. Taylor has his eyes on a potential Terrence Crawford fight but who knows if that will actually come off.