At the age of 24, Teofimo Lopez is already a unified champion in the lightweight division. It only takes one punch to win a fight though.
Challenger George Kambosos will hope he can find that on October 4 at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York on October 4th.
Lopez has the nickname ‘The Takeover’ and that’s just what he has done in the lightweight division. The American currently holds the WBA Super, IBF and WBO titles, not bad considering he was knocked down in his first professional fight.
He fought back to win that 2016 debut contest and the former Olympic boxer comes into this fight with a 16-0-0 record. Lopez went on to win NABF titles and the WBC Continental Americas belt. It was in December 2019 that he beat Richard Commey in two rounds to become the IBF lightweight champion.
Lopez didn’t fight for another ten months but when he did, the American caused a massive upset. He faced Vasyl Lomachenko, who held the WBA Super and WBO titles. Lopez won the title with a unanimous points decision. One judge gave the fight to him by 10 points, another by just four.
That win has elevated his career a few levels. There has been talk of a rematch with Lomachenko but it’s fair to say that the pair don’t get on. His opponent had turned down any rematch clause, so Lopez isn’t that keen on giving the former champion a return fight. Well not yet anyway. Money talks in boxing and a rematch is possible, but Lopez has to get past Kambosos first.
Then there’s a possible fight with WBC champion Devin Haney, who’d be an ideal opponent. Lopez has the ‘franchise’ WBC title but that’s not universally recognised in a sport that supplies plenty of work for belt manufacturers.
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George Kambosos also has a perfect professional record. The 28-year-old Australian has won all 19 pro fights and has the adorable nickname ‘Ferocious.’
He’s been patiently waiting for this title shot. It was due to take place in June and then August, but the champion had Covid-19.
Kambosos is the mandatory IBF challenger. He achieved that position by beating Britain’s Lee Selby on Halloween night last year. Selby is a former featherweight world champion and had moved up in weight. He lost on points to Kambosos, who didn’t mind at all having to go to London to earn this title shot, not even on Halloween night.
The real horror was the scoring with one judge giving it to the Australian by eight points and another to Selby by a point. Do the judges watch the same fight?
This is going to be a step up in class for the Australian who made his professional debut eight years ago. There was talk at one time of this title match being held in Australia rather than the USA. Lopez wasn’t at all keen on going into isolation for a couple of weeks and the IBF soon ruled out a trip down under. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were also considered but now Kambosos has to travel to his opponent’s home city.
10 of his 19 wins have come inside the distance. He’s the underdog for this fight and a successful Lopez defence looks highly likely. The champion will want to win in style after the shock caused in the Lomachenko fight. An impressive title defence will lead to bigger fights and then he can start moving up the divisions.