Lopez vs Kambosos: Blood boiling over Saturday, DAZN
SAN DIEGO, Calif., November 26, 2021 – Boxing fans should be forgiven for thinking the unified lightweight title fight between Teofimo Lopez Jr. of Brooklyn and George Kambosos Jr. of Australia already took place. It should have, but the path to this fight has faced more roadblocks than an action movie chase scene.
The original fight date in May was canceled due to Lopez Jr. coming down with COVID-19. But it turned out to be the least of the many issues involving a purse bid, two different promoters, eight different dates, disagreements over the venue, and lawsuit threats. It was a drama worthy of a telenovela.
Finally, Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing took over from Triller and will oversee the two men getting into the ring Saturday, November 26, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. It airs on DAZN in the US starting at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.
We hope Lopez Jr. and Kambosos Jr. are under house arrest until the opening bell, with someone checking their food for tampering.
The long delay built up anticipation for a fight initially considered a layup for Lopez Jr. (16-0 12 KOs) in his first title defense after his surprising defeat of Vasiliy Lomachenko against his IBF mandatory challenger Kambosos Jr. (19-0 10 KOs). It’s now been 400 days since Lopez Jr. heard “And the new.”
Kambosos Jr.: ‘Victory by any means’
With all this time to kill, Kambosos and Lopez and their respective trainer/fathers have had plenty to say, most of it heated. The two fathers got into it with each other at this week’s final (please) pre-fight news conference. The sons followed up by bristling at each other at the presser and the weigh-in, with Kambosos drawing the symbolic knife across the throat.
The mix may turn out to fuel the high anticipation of fans for this fight on Saturday to determine the world unified lightweight division champion between the Brooklyn native and the Aussie of Greek heritage, where it didn’t much exist before.
Lopez Jr.’s star is burning bright as one of the most exciting young talents in boxing. The long layoff and what Lopez Jr. now admits was a wicked hard battle against the coronavirus threw cold water on some of that excitement. But it gave fans time to learn a little more about Kambosos Jr. Although it’s his third fight in the US and second at Madison Square Garden, it’s only his second 12 round fight. He remains a 6 to 1 underdog.
Kambosos Jr. isn’t paying any attention. He’s convinced his focus, work ethic, and hours of looking into Lopez Jr.’s soul give him the edge needed to prove the oddsmakers wrong. Kambosos Jr. believes Lopez Jr.’s bluster is due to nerves. Listening to him, it’s hard not to buy-in.
“I am focused. Even with what happened with our Dads, it’s forgotten. There’s no emotion for me. I am here to do a job. I don’t think about what’s next. Ask Lopez. He thinks one million steps ahead. I’m focused only on him,” said Kambosos Jr.
“He’s coming to KO me early? No problem. That’s what I want to do. Victory by any means though,” said Kambosos Jr., who says he’s versatile and can bang, or box, or both.
“I’ve got a very smart team, and I am very smart at what I do. It’s not my first rodeo. I’ve been in the big fights, I’ve earned this the hard way,” adds Kambosos Jr. “But we’re ready, and we’re clever, and the preparation has been great. There’s no burnout or weight issues, nothing, no emotion, just coming here to win the fight and be a real champion.”
Lopez Jr.: ‘God is going to humble this man’
“God is going to humble this man through me,” said Lopez Jr., who calls himself The Takeover. “A lot of these people are so ambitious, and that’s OK, you have to be. But the thing is, sometimes you don’t get it because you probably won’t carry it the right way. You’re not going to be a people’s champ. You’re going to spend your money on yourself rather than giving back like a lot of fighters do.”
Lopez Jr. said he has little respect for the Aussie due to the disrespect shown him as the champion.
“The amount of disrespect from him, you disrespect my Mother? I told them, I warned him, his manager ‘don’t talk about my family’. I said they can say anything else, talk shXt about me, say I am a cockroach, an ant. But once you cross that line, that barrier; fXck his manager Peter Kahn and fXck George Kambosos Jr.” For his part, Kambosos denies saying anything about Lopez’s mother, but he’s made up for it with remarks about his opponent.
Lopez Jr. has shed doubters in his talents along the way to the title, especially after going the distance with Masayoshi Nakatani even though Lopez dominated the scorecards. But he followed up with a second-round TKO shocker over Richard Commey, followed by the win over Lomachenko.
Fight analysis: Talking turkey
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, so let’s talk turkey. Kambosos Jr. is taking a big step up. His most significant wins are over Mickey Bey and a faded Lee Selby.
Kambosos Jr. has been out of the ring just two weeks shy of Lopez Jr. It’s not optimal for either man. They may be fighting ring rust or its opposite, overtraining. If Lopez Jr. kicks it into gear early as he says he will, Kambosos Jr.’s confidence might be cracked quickly.
Forget the issue over size. Lopez Jr. must work hard to make the 135-pound limit, but he appeared strong and fit at Friday’s weigh-in, with both men one-quarter pound under the limit.
Kambosos Jr. isn’t a power-punching threat. He has sound fundamentals, and he will need to stay busy and mobile in the ring. Kambosas Jr. has the speed to do it, and he claims he knows exactly where to place his shots to disable Lopez Jr.
This bravado will run into a harsh reality in the ring. Kambosos Jr. has never stood in front of anyone with Lopez Jr.’s power or accuracy. He will find out quickly what his chin is made of. Determination will help Kambosos get through a few tough rounds, but it’s not likely to last through all of them. Lopez Jr. is eager to make it a quick night, but we believe the fight will go a few rounds at least. We call a TKO 7 for Lopez Jr.
Undercard fights in New York feature local talent
Azinga Fuzile of South Africa (15-1, 9 KOs) and Kenichi Ogawa of Japan (25-1-1, 28 KOs) fight for the vacant IBF World Super-Featherweight title in the co-main event.
Raymond Ford of Camden, New Jersey (9-0-1, 5 KOs) meets Felix Caraballo of Puerto Rico (13-3-2, 9 KOs) in a ten-round fight.
Chinese Heavyweight Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1, 17 KOs) takes on Craig Lewis of Detroit (14-4-1 8 KOs) over eight rounds.
Somalia native Ramla Ali of England (3-0) makes her second US appearance in 2021 against Isela Vera of Long Beach, California (1-0).
New Yorker Christina Cruz (1-0) meets Maryguenn Vellinga of Park City, Utah (3-1-2 2 KOs). Cruz is an accomplished amateur and well known in the New York boxing scene. She holds the record for most consecutive New York Golden Gloves championships at five, besting Mark Breland, and has seven USA national titles as well.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalism covering the Sweet Science for Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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