By: Hector Franco
Last weekend the boxing world was turned upside down when George Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10 KOs) defeated heavy favorite Teofimo Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) to win the WBA, IBF, WBO, and Ring Magazine lightweight titles.
When the first bell rang to start the fight, Kambosos was a 13 to 1 and +600 underdog, according to BET MGM. Those odds became null and void when Kambosos landed a right hand at the end of the first round that put Lopez on the seat of his trunks.
Kambosos would not merely be a standard mandatory defense and showcase for Lopez, who was then ranked as the number seven fighter pound for pound by Ring Magazine following his win over Vasiliy Lomachenko last year.
The Australian fighter with the words “Never Retreat, Never Surrender” tattooed on his back outboxed, outfought, and outsmarted Lopez throughout the vast majority of the match. Lopez, to his credit, never stopped coming forward and scored a knockdown of his own in the 10th round.
But when the final bell rang, it was Kambosos who came away with the victory earning a split decision on the judge’s scorecards.
The win was manifested by Kambosos, who never wavered in confidence against Lopez in and out of the ring.
“You’re in the bright lights,” Kambosos said in a press conference before the fight. “I’ve been in the dark, in the trenches, in the gym—the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. I’m hungry. He says he’s hungry; he’s lying. I am hungry, and we are ready for war.”
The fight between Lopez and Kambosos was initially set to take place in June in Miami, FL, on the Triller platform. However, multiple delays, including Lopez testing positive for the coronavirus, led to the fight being promoted by Matchroom Boxing on the DAZN streaming platform and taking place in New York.
The delays likely played a factor in both men’s performances, but the fight exceeded expectations as one of the best of 2021.
With no rematch clause set in place and Lopez moving up to the junior welterweight division, the lightweight division has a brand new fresh face at the top of the division.
“A lot of people didn’t believe in me,” Kambosos stated in an interview with promoter Eddie Hearn for DAZN. “Maybe 99.9 percent of the world didn’t believe in me. They thought they were going to get rid of me in the first round. But the most important person that believed, obviously my team, but the most important was myself. I believed like crazy. I didn’t change throughout the whole preparation.
“I knew I was going to beat this kid. Take everything off him, and that is what I did.”
Waiting like hyenas for Kambosos are the top fighters in the division drooling at the opportunity to take on the Greek Australian-based fighter.
Fighters such as Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Shakur Stevenson, Vasyl Lomachenko, Devin Haney, and Gervonta Davis all congratulated Kambosos on the win, but also stated that they wanted to take on the Australian next.
This weekend, two future potential opponents for Kambosos will step in the ring. Davis will defend his version of the WBA lightweight title against late replacement and lightweight contender Isaac Cruz.
The opponent who seems to have the highest probability of facing Kambosos next is Haney, who holds the WBC lightweight title. Haney will defend his title against former IBF super featherweight champion Joseph “Jojo” Diaz in Las Vegas.
Haney coming out victorious in impressive fashion against Diaz will likely put him on the direct track to take on Kambosos. However, Kambosos has made it clear that he wants his next fight to take place in his native Australia.
“My next fight will be in Australia, in an 80,000-seat stadium,” stated Kambosos. “I think Devin Haney’s gotta look good this weekend. I will be there to watch. And if he looks good, then we’ll sit down, make it work, and let’s do it.”
Haney, for his part, has stated that he is willing to travel to make the fight with Kambosos.
“That’s the type of fight we will travel for,” said Haney. “When it’s for undisputed, for all the belts, he has the majority of them. If I have to go on the road, then I will.”
Last year, fans and pundits anointed Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, and Ryan Garcia as this era’s four kings at lightweight, with some including Shakur Stevenson.
It was hasty to compare a group of fighters to the likes of Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran without them stepping in the ring with one another.
And it looked like these fighters wouldn’t face each other anytime soon.
In one night, George Kambosos has changed the guard in the lightweight division. His victory over Lopez has significantly impacted the potential fights that can happen.
Longtime journalist and HBO commentator Larry Merchant once stated, “Fights make fights.” Kambosos seems willing to make fights happen with any opponent.
“I live for this,” said Kambosos. “I love this. The blood. The knockdowns. The back and forth exchanges. I’m a warrior. I’m a Spartan warrior. For me, I’ll do this every week if I have to.”
One of the new most wanted men in the sport is one that welcomes all challengers.
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