Yes, the fight happened. It was on, then off, then off. It got made, in a strange manner, and got un-made in dramatic fashion, and finally on Saturday night, Teofimo Lopez gloved up against George Kambosos. And maybe Teofimo wishes the damn thing got cancelled, because it was a back and forth rumble, the men traded knockdowns, and it was the Aussie who came away with a split decision.
Yes, the mega underdog got the nod from two of three judges at the Madison Square Garden Theater, and will enjoy the adoration of about 5,000 more folks who were present at the upset of the year.
Triller had bought the rights to the lightweight title fight, but the fates didn’t want it to play out that way. So Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, who had been the second most after Triller, put the scrap on in NYC. I’m pretty sure Kambosos, who got this shot because the IBF ranked him No. 1 at 135, won’t come down from this high for a week.
One judge, Don Trella, had it 114-113 for Lopez, who was a 13-to-1 favorite, but he was over-ruled by the two who had it more right, Frank Lombardi and Glen Feldman saw it 115-111 and 115-112, for “the newwww.”
Kambosos told Chris Mannix after that “I believed in myself…I’m not the king, you got the four kings, but I’m the emperor, because I come to their countries.” The Aussie with Greek blood said his knockdown, off the right hand, made a certain mood, and he knew then he was going the whole route.
He went all class after, saying that the buildup, which had some ugliness, was for the hype. “This is for my kids, and my grandfather, who passed away two months ago,” he said. “All respect to him, he’s a great champion, he beat Vasiliy Lomachenko,” the victor said, but he was the better man. Then Lopez came over, grabbed the mic, and said he won. “I’m no sore loser,” he said, and promised “The Takeover” would continue. He got booed pretty heavily, and Kambosos called him delusional.
“Referee knew I won tonight, everybody knew I won tonight,” the loser said, saying he thought he won ten rounds. Kambosos told him to move to 140, and that they’d do it again, in Australia, in front of 80,000. Teofimo said he will go home and enjoy his kid, born 11 days ago. And he said yes, 135 is too tough to make. “No excuses,” he said, but yes, he will be going to 140. “This isn’t the last of the Takeover, this is just the beginning.” Classy, ultra classy Kambosos told Teo to go enjoy the baby, and forget all this stuff. Very fine performance, athletically and character-wise, as well.
Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs; holder of all 135 belts but the WBC’s version now with Devin Haney), age 24, has struggled some with the onset of larger fame and fortune, and has stated that he wanted to take out some of his uncertainty on the Australian native Kambosos, age 28, who entered with a 19-0 (10 KOs) mark.
Glen Feldman, Frank Lombardi and Don Trella all trucked in from Connecticut to be the judges.
In the first, the Brooklyn born Florida bred Las Vegas resident Lopez, a 13-to-1 favorite, went down, a right hand did it. It was at the end of a round that Teofimo dominated, though his over eagerness to get a quick KO made him a bit sloppy.
His right hand found the target several times, but a looping right put him on his butt. The shot came from Staten Island and Teo still didn’t see it coming. His pop Teofimo Sr told him he was off balance, no biggie, and asked him to go out there and finish the Aussie.
In round two, Kambosos again showed no fear, and stayed eyes wide open as Teofimo settled down. That meant he mixed punches, and that included a sweet and nasty right to the body. Kambosos’ chin had held and so had his heart. Another looping right landed clean on Lopez, and it could have been another knockdown, his defense needed tightening.
In the third, Lopez pumped the jab more, his combos were better, but Kambosos kept the chin tucked and a hook landed but he saw it coming. The ref fell on his bum breaking the two up as they jawed after the bell sounded, and you saw Junior Lopez, lol, chuckling. Dad told the kid to go to the body, work your way in that way.
In the fourth, we saw Teo go lefty, and he went right back to righty. Kambosos didn’t back up, he wasn’t lying when he said he was ready, and stayed ready, despite all the dramatics and delays. We saw a lil swelling on Teo’s right eye, but nothing to worry about. In the fifth, Kam didn’t get fatigued or fade.
Left hooks from Teo were being hurled hard, but the Aussie saw them, or took them fine. And then late he landed one of his long rights. Teo stayed too static and kept getting nicked by the right.
In the sixth, we saw both men’s face marked up equally. Kam edged to his right, and Teo didn’t cut off that ring, he allowed that edging. Teo stabbed to the body late but got pushed back by a surging Aussie trying to steal the round. A cut dripped on Kam’s left eye, for the record. His trainer told him to double jab and then fire that right after the round.
In the seventh, the action remained center ring, as it had been for most of the way. Teo had to contend with a guy mixing defense and offense deftly. Kam rifled a right uppercut, a lead, at the 45 seconds mark. This was a tight round, as Kambosos finished as well as he started. We saw on replay Kambosos throwing his jab wide deliberately and following with the right, which again landed clean. In the eighth round, Teo’s face now looked worse than George’s. And even more so when blood dripped from Lopez’ nostrils.
In the ninth, Kambosos still hadn’t faded, and his hand speed was still on, and his head movement, his in ring vision..everything. And then, bang, some power from Teo surged. George got buzzed, but weathered it, and ended the round with a sharp right. His looping right, because his hand speed is good, doesn’t take THAT long to get there. Replay showed a right cross on the chin buzzed him.
In the tenth, down went Kambosos (see pic below). 1:45 was left, and Lopez was smart, then too smart, too patient. A leaping left from Lopez had the crowd exclaim. Replay showed that a right from Teo which he funneled sharply as Kambosos dipped to his right did the damage. One knockdown apiece, then.
In the 11th, the Aussie got his legs back. Teofimo will look back and wonder why he didn’t try to end it a bit harder….Swelling and blood from the left eye of Teofimo cheered Kambosos up. The doc even got a look at the slice, and with 36 seconds to go, the action re-started. A right from Kambosos landed clean late, and we looked forward to the 12th. “This is the last round, gimme everything you got,” pop told Teo.
In the 12th, Kambosos looked fresh, but Teo worked more early. Then a Kam one-two landed, and had the crowd buzzing. He looked more energized than Lopez, in fact. He had bounce in his feet, his freshness told the judges a certain something. No knockdowns or kayo, we went to the cards, biting our nails on the way.