There’s a new Lightweight Champ in town!
By Darin Sepelj
George Kambosos Jr was crowned WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight champion of the world at Madison Square Garden after a split decision victory over Teofimo Lopez in what was considered an amazing 12 rounds of boxing. After being delayed numerous times the bout certainly did not disappoint. Both boxers went into the fight unbeaten, with Kambosos Jr having a record of 19-0 and Lopez (who was defending his belts for the first time) being 16-0.
The first round started off furiously with both fighters going full throttle. Kambosos Jr took many shots to the face but towards the end of the round he managed to drop Lopez with a powerful right hand. The underdog surprised the crowd and commentators with this shot and let everyone know that this would be a great fight. Most of rounds 2-8 saw the Australian landing the cleaner shots and therefore getting more points on the judge’s scorecards. Rounds 9-12 saw the most intense action of the match. In the last minute of the ninth round Kambosos took some heavy hits, but he still stood his ground firmly. Lopez was slowly getting back into the fight. Round 10 is where Lopez dominated and looked like he would secure a stoppage by knocking down Kambosos early and then relentlessly punishing him with many hooks and jabs. However Kambosos who has Greek heritage with his paternal grandparents originating from Sparta did not give up and kept on going like a true Spartan warrior. He certainly followed what he has tattooed on his back which is a famous Greek war cry “Never retreat, never surrender”. After much pain and punishment in the tenth round, George Kambosos Jr came back and fought exceptionally. Lopez was bleeding heavily in the last round with a cut above his left eye and despite his many attempts he could not knock-out his opponent.
Both boxers thought they had done enough to win. It went to the scorecards with 2 judges scoring it 115-111 and 115-112 in favour of Kambosos Jr, with the other judge scoring it 114-113 to Lopez. The split decision win meant that the biggest victory in Australian boxing history belonged to George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr. The underdog beat the reigning champion in his own backyard in what was a big upset. There were some sour scenes post fight, with Lopez being very bitter and claiming he definitely won the bout, interrupting the new champion’s big moment.
What’s next for Kambosos Jr? The best option seems to be fighting Devin Haney for undisputed status, with Haney holding the remaining belt. Lots of fighters alongside Haney reacted on social media wanting to fight the new lightweight champion, with Ryan Garcia and Shakur Stevenson also willing to challenge for the belts. Other fighters he could face are Gervonta Davis and Vasiliy Lomachenko, or he could rematch Lopez like he offered post fight. Manny Pacquiao who sparred regularly with Kambosos Jr congratulated him on Twitter and wished him well. What is definite is that the fight should take place in Australia as the reigning champion deserves to call the shots and it would be huge for Australian boxing.