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George Kambosos Jr. upsets Teofimo Lopez to win Lightweight titles

Credit: Matchroom Boxing

George Kambosos Jr. waited almost a year to get his shot at Teofimo Lopez and his multiple lightweight world titles and took advantage of the moment. 

After various postponements and a very heated back-and-forth build to their grudge match, it was Kambosos who came out on top with a sensational, back-and-forth bout at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, streaming on DAZN. Setting the tempo with a first-round knockdown and closing out the last two rounds on a strong note, Kambosos scored a split decision win over Lopez to win the WBA “Super,” WBC Franchise, WBO & IBF lightweight titles. 

Judges Glenn Feldman and Frank Lombardi scored the fight 115–112 and 115–111, respectively, in favor of Kambosos. Only judge Don Trella scored the bout in favor of Lopez with 114–113. 

The action started fast in the first round when Lopez was the aggressor and threw power punch after power punch at Kambosos. However, it was Kambosos who drew first blood when he landed a counter right hand that dropped Lopez to the canvas.

Kambosos’ right hand and left jab found its mark on Lopez’s face for the next few rounds as the champion struggled to keep his nerves and anxiety in check. Lopez would find some success in the first half of the fight as the aggressor, but Kambosos’ boxing acumen outclassed the hot-headed Lopez.

In the ninth round, Lopez scored a big right hand that stunned Kambosos and unleashed a series of right hands that pushed his opponent on the ropes. Lopez kept that success going in the tenth round when sent Kambosos to the canvas with a chopping right hand and turned the tide of the fight in his favor. Although Kambosos got back up, Lopez continued attacking away at Kambosos. 

Lopez slowed down a bit in the 11th round and Kambosos took advantage by controlling the pace as Lopez dealt with a gash over the corner of his left eye. Kambosos took advantage of Lopez taking the foot off the gas pedal in the final two rounds by outboxing the now-former champion and going almost 50/50 on a number of exchanges with Lopez in the final 90 seconds of the bout.

The last two rounds may have been the difference maker for Kambosos, who not only took most of Lopez’s best shots, but also outworked Lopez. Kambosos threw almost 200 punches more than Lopez, out-throwing him 739 to 565 in total punches for the 12 rounds.

The fight went through a roller coaster of emotions for nearly ten months. After Triller won the purse bid for the promotional rights to this bout, a series of events from Lopez testing positive for COVID-19 to multiple failed attempts at staging the fight both in and outside the United States put the fight in limbo. Once an IBF-imposed deadline to stage the fight passed weeks ago, Triller was found in default and the promotional rights went to Matchroom Boxing, who finished second in the purse bid from February.

As for a rematch, there is nothing forcing both sides to have a rematch as there is no rematch clause. Putting aside the lack of a rematch clause, there’s also the future of Lopez at lightweight. It’s no secret that Lopez has struggled to effectively cut weight and a jump to junior welterweight had been viewed as an inevitability for some time. 

Kambosos has no ties to a network and no immediate mandatory title defense coming up, though that could change in the coming months. Kambosos could fight the winner of Devin Haney vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. (which is for the WBC world title) taking place on December 4. 

This was Lopez’s first fight since scoring his own major upset in 2020 when he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko in Las Vegas. Now Kambosos has his time in the limelight, with a number of big fights at lightweight waiting for him.

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