You hate to see it.
Two warriors go in the ring on a given Saturday night and give their all in a scrap that would redefine the “fighting in a phone booth” cliche. For twelve rounds Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr. asked everything of each other and themselves.
Both men came into the ring with undefeated records, but Lopez, coming off his surprising victory over the then assumed pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko, was the heavy favorite. While Lopez and Kambosos Jr. had a goose egg sitting in their respective ‘L’ columns, it was Lopez who had been in the ring with the superior level of competition. Most fight fans (and Lopez) saw Kambosos as nothing more than a mandatory “alphabelt” (yes, I just made up a word) challenger and a stepping stone to a bigger payday for Lopez. Lopez himself predicted he would take out his Aussie challenger in the first round.
But as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” In this scenario, George Kambosos Jr. is “life.” In fact, it wasn’t Kambosos who was felled in the first, it was Lopez. Near the end of the round the man from down under laid a sledgehammer right hand straight upon the face of Lopez, sending him down on his keister.
While Lopez looked more shocked than hurt when he got up, that’s probably because he came into the ring expecting a walkover, and instead, what he got was a war. After the first, the two combatants traded blows relentlessly, Kambosos more relentlessly, throughout the fight. Kambosos wobbled Lopez again in the fourth, and just when it seemed the fight was slipping away from Lopez, he scored a knockdown of his own in the tenth with a right hand to the head of Kambosos.
Lopez went headhunting in the eleventh and twelfth, but Kambosos was more than up to the task – winning both rounds by my eyes. The judges mostly agreed. When the scorecards were brought into the ring, the reading went like so: 115-111 and 115-112 for Kambosos, and 114-113 for Lopez.
That final scorecard was met with much righteous derision by my NY Fights colleague Tommy Rainone, who, in his bluntly titled piece “Enough Of This Bullshit” pointed out that Judge Don Trella “managed to score the first round 10-9 and not 10-8 as it should have been for George Kambosos, after the underdog dropped Lopez…”
Rainone continued, “…Trella also scored the twelfth and final round for Lopez…” even though “Kambosos closed the show…”
If you take away the one blind mouse (at least there weren’t three) out of this equation, Kambosos would have won the fight unanimously and rather clearly. And he deserves it too. Before the fight, Kambosos was a 13-1 underdog and he finished the night by scoring the biggest upset of this boxing year.
What Kambosos didn’t need is what came next. Draped in all of the belts he had just rightfully separated Lopez from, Kambosos repeatedly tried to show Lopez respect, but none was returned. Lopez barked at the better man (at least on this night and probably in more ways than one) before making a damn fool out of himself post-fight.
While Kambosos was being interviewed, Lopez pulled a Kanye putting the “bum” in bumrush, interrupting the new champ and declaring, “I don’t care what anyone says yo, I won tonight.”
Incredibly, Lopez even went further, saying “I don’t believe it was a close fight. I believe at the end of it all, I score it 10-2.” Lopez’s assessment only proved that there was a second blind mouse in attendance at Madison Square Garden last Saturday – Don Trella and Teofimo Lopez.
Hell, if you hadn’t seen a second of the fight, and just happened to tune in when the final bell rang, and you were judging who won the fight just by the way their faces looked, you could have scored the fight for Kambosos with ease. Kambosos definitely looked like he had been in a scrap, but Lopez looked like his face had been dragged across concrete.
Of course, looks don’t always correlate to an outcome in a twelve round fight (nor should they), but I think it’s telling that one guy (Kambosos) went to the hospital after the fight for dehydration, and the other guy (Lopez) checked in for two separate cuts over both eyes.
Yet here was Lopez, more battered and bruised, winning fewer rounds than his opponent, acting like a child at recess who wanted a do over after his team lost a pick up game of football on a makeshift field.
I don’t know, maybe this shit shouldn’t matter. But to me, it feels like it does.
And you know who else it ought to matter to? Teofimo Lopez. Because in two short fights, he went from the giant killer of Vasiliy Lomachenko, to the guy who when faced with unexpected adversity, not only lost, but showed his ass to the boxing world in the process.
“Look, I’m not a sore loser. I take my wins like I take my losses,” Lopez after he took the L argued in futility. “At the end of the day, I’m a true champion.”
Maybe one day that will be true. But on Saturday night, Lopez looked and sounded like a sore loser and anything but a true champion. If he needed any proof of the situation, he only needed to listen to the boos coming from the crowd in NYC (where he was born, mind you), and then watch Kambosos exit the ring with all of Lopez’s hardware hanging over his shoulders.
It didn’t have to be like that. But that’s how Lopez made it.
Like I said, you hate to see it.