Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. has shocked the world, defeating Teofimo Lopez via split decision to become the new unified Lightweight Champion.
The judges scored the contest 115-111, 115-112 and 114-113.
Kambosos handed Lopez his first professional defeat in his own backyard at the Hulu Theatre in Madison Square Garden to become the Lightweight Champion and in the process extend his record to 20-0 (10 KO), to cause one of the biggest upsets in boxing history coming in as a 13/1 underdog.
It was the fight of Kambosos’ life, dealing with multiple setbacks to lead up to the fight which was over a year in the making. This was due to promotional issues, injuries, COVID-19, five different venue changes and eight different dates being set.
The Sydney native remained determined, continuing to train the whole time despite the birth of his child and the passing of his grandfather.
The opening round was action packed, with Lopez coming out fast by throwing a flurry of punches as soon as the bell rang. Kambosos was far more technical and composed early, rolling with the punches and looking to counter.
Lopez had promised a first-round knockout pre-fight, and was headhunting early being overly aggressive. This did not play into his favour when Kambosos timed a right hand in the final 20 seconds of the opening round that sent the Brooklyn native to the canvas and allowed Kambosos to steal the opening round.
This marks just the second time Lopez had been knocked down in his professional career since his debut fight against Ishwar Siqueiros in 2016.
Looking for revenge after the late knockdown, Lopez opened the second round similar to the first, hunting for the knockout despite his corner telling him to remain for composed and take his time.
As the round progressed Lopez did start to slow down and looked to pick off Kambosos more rather than solely head hunting, but Kambosos still had success with the right hand.
Kambosos looked to be enjoying himself in the ring, talking trash to Lopez at the end of the round with the two exchanging power punches prior to the bell ringing.
Kambosos looked a lot more comfortable in round three, picking his shots while Lopez’s pace and output began to slow slightly. Both had a similar game plan, looking to set up the right hand from behind the jab with both having shared success with it.
The round ended strongly for Lopez, who was able to catch Kambosos just before the final bell sounded with the Australian able to remain on his feet.
In an interesting turn of events, Lopez came out in the southpaw stance for the fourth round. This was short lived, soon returning to his conventional orthodox stance.
Kambosos began to start taking the fight to Lopez, doing an excellent job of countering when Lopez would step forward to strike and throw. The 28-year-old was able to land a good right to the body which he followed up a few moments later with a left hook to the head which connected cleanly.
The ended with both swinging heavy leather with Kambosos appearing to land some good shots in the wild exchange.
The fifth followed a similar narrative to the previous round, with Kambosos firing back whenever Lopez threw anything and looking to be the far more accurate striker.
The round was primarily Kambosos’, who was able to land another big overhand right in the final 10 seconds of the round, looking to be getting more and more comfortable as the fight progressed.
Round six was also Kambosos’ round, getting out of the way of many of Lopez’s shots and then counter with his own without taking much damage. The Sydney native continued to time the right hand well, landing another good shot in the opening minute of the round.
Lopez’s activity slowed throughout the round, appearing to look for one big shot while Kambosos continued to accumulate damage.
Lopez was however able to land a good right hand, which opened a small cut below the left eye of the Australian. Kambosos answered back to close out the round landing one of his own, and then proceeded to taunt Lopez and landed a left to the body.
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At the start of the seventh the damage around the left eye of Lopez was noticeable, having taken heavy damage from the right hands Kambosos had been landing.
Kambosos continued to outbox the then champion, with Lopez looking out of answers and just hoping to land one big fight altering punch.
The most notable moment of the round was when Kambosos landed a clean right uppercut square on the face of Lopez, which he had been trying to set up for the past few rounds.
It was clear from the two fighters’ body language at the end of the round that Kambosos was in command, skipping back to his corner looking full of energy while Lopez slumped to his stall.
Kambosos was able to continue to time his shots well and have more success in the striking exchanges, landing cleaner shots throughout the eighth round as the fight steered more and more in the challenger’s favour. Lopez looked tentative and was unable to use the power advantage he had to his benefit.
While Lopez had some success in the final minute with his jab, Kambosos kept answering back, landing another overhand right followed up with a combination that appeared to hurt Lopez.
Again, the round ended with the two throwing a flurry of punches. Though Lopez was able to land two good right hooks, it still appeared to be Kambosos’ round.
After eight rounds, Kambosos was clearly having more success, having landed 95 power punches compared to Lopez only landing 68.
The corner work for Lopez was interesting throughout the fight, with his cornerman giving him false hope, telling him he had won the previous round despite Kambosos’ success.
For the early parts of the round Kambosos landed the cleaner punches and was the more active fighter, but that all changed when Lopez landed a good right hand which appeared to rock the Australian.
Lopez followed up with immediate pressure and landed a few good right hands to the chin of Kambosos, who showed excellent heart to stay up and continued to fire back himself able to land a left hook.
The round was Lopez’s best of the fight so far, and looked as though the fight was starting to move back into his favour.
After the strong end to the previous round, Lopez came out in round 10 stalking Kambosos, hoping to continue where he left off from the previous round.
This finally paid dividends shortly after, landing a right hand which knocked Kambosos to the canvas, leaning the fight back into Lopez’s favour.
When the fight resumed, Lopez came out swinging a flurry of punches, smelling blood and feeling a finish could be on the cards after struggling during the middle rounds. Kambosos was able to just survive, leaving the opportunity missed for Lopez who had the Australian hurt but allowed him too much time to recompose himself.
Kambosos was able to have some success early in the 11th, but soon Lopez again was teeing off on the Aussie.
After struggling to land earlier in the fight, Lopez was able to find his shots a lot better and was landing far more accurately this round.
Kambosos’ heart was on full display, appearing determined to keep fighting and continued to fire back, still able to time the overhand right effectively. The sustained damage to Lopez’s left eye took its toll soon after, with a cut opening up above it as blood began to spill down his face.
The round was controlled by Kambosos for the most part, with Lopez looking to take the round off after some early success in the first minute.
Kambosos was the far busier fighter in the final round, able to fight similar to how he did earlier, answering back whenever Lopez threw anything. On the flip side, Lopez continued to head hunt and look for one big punch.
By the end of the round, Lopez’s face looked a mess, covered in blood from the accumulated damage Kambosos was able to land.
After all 12 rounds Kambosos had landed 155 power punches compared to 115 to Lopez, a surprise to many who thought the Australian would not even make it out of the first three rounds despite outboxing Lopez.
“I believed in myself, I backed myself and I said it time after time, you might not believe me, but I believe in myself and look at me now, I have all the jewels. I am not the king, I am the emperor,” Kambosos said post-fight.
The Australian gave respect to Lopez post fight but warned that this performance was not a one off.
“It’s my night and it’s going to be my night for a very long time,” he said.
“I am the greatest fighter in Australian history.”
Lopez did not offer the same respect and was not humble in defeat, claiming he won 10 of the 12 rounds, which Kambosos responded to by calling him delusional.
“Take it like a champ, let’s do it again in Australia,” Kambosos said.
“80,000 fans in Australia, let’s do it again.”
A potential match-up with current WBC Lightweight Champion Devin Haney for undisputed gold could be on the cards next for Kambosos, with the American calling him out post-fight via Twitter. Haney will have to get through Joseph Diaz first, who he fights next week.
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