New York: It wasn’t supposed to happen and not in the plan. Saturday night, though, in the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theatre, Teofimo Lopez lost his lightweight unification titles because he was not the better fighter.
George Kanbosos Jr. set the tone early in the first round when Lopez went down with a right. Kambosos continued to set the tone when the Australian bounced back from a 10th round knockdown. He fairly won a 12-round split decision that could go down as upset of the year and set Lopez back to reality.
A loss for Lopez, also, that put the lightweight division in another direction when it comes to who gets what next year. But despite setbacks, and there were many that pushed this fight back numerous times, George Kambosos Jr. came from Australia and was crowned the new unified lightweight champion.
Kambosos, the mandatory IBF challenger, was determined when this fight was signed early last year.
The former champion was cascaded with boos in his hometown arena that spoiled a night belonging to Kambosos. Lopez was not ready to concede defeat and his tone resembled a politician that lost a bitter election. He claims to have won the fight and took ten rounds. Lopez said he was weight-drained.
All of those excuses are difficult to believe or understand, and I have stated more than once, you can never doubt the ability and determination that got Teofimo Lopez to become a great and young superstar of the sport.
Understand this, though,Teofimo Lopez lost his first title defense and there is no more room for excuses. No more time to blame the judges at ringside or Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, who stepped in and saved this fight with DAZN when Triller pulled out after sustaining a substantial financial loss with all the postponements and logistics. I said the titles were meaningless with all the delays and complications as other mega fights were on the horizon that took away from this anticipated bout.
“I don’t care what anybody says, I won tonight,” Lopez said. “At the end of the day, I’ve been here, I’ve done it. Look, I’m not sore loser. I take my wins like I take my losses. At the end of the day, I’m a true champion. I came out here, I did what I had to do and I went out there and I did my best.”
Lopez said the takeover continues and it won’t stop.. On the contrary, for the moment, the Lopez takeover was stopped. The takeover was coming to an end in that first round when Kambosos Jr. set an early tone with his right.
And lame excuses from Lopez and his dad about the decision are difficult to accept. Fighters and champions lose the big ones, even with the egos that came with the takeover of lightweight titles Teofimo Lopez won since dethroning Vasyl Lomachencko a year ago.
If anything, George Kambosos Jr. struggled to get here. The on and off of five postponements, back-and-forth travel from Australia, but the new champion kept to his word and brought the titles home as a unified and dignified champion.
One look of two cut eyes and blood showed defeat was all etched in stone on the face of Teofimo Lopez.
So analyze what went wrong. I would safely bet, Lopez and his dad, the training camp were not having an easy day after the loss of a fight they were certain to win that suddenly ended the takeover.
A Top Rank source said to me, “Teofimo will have to come back to earth, Forget about this takeover and make the adjustments. Get rid of the ego and face the reality of losing the titles.”
In reality, Top Rank, the promoter of Lopez, has a lot of stake with Teofimo Lopez. They lost the initial bid to stage this title defense that went to Triller and ended with Matchroom, because the ego of Lopez said he deserved more money and Triller guaranteed an excess of $5 million.
Of course, Lopez went home with less money and became his worst enemy as the ego continued to grow. The June 19 date in Miami was cancelled due to Lopez’ bout with COVID-19, and despite his claim of staying in condition there was a struggle for him to stay at the 135-Lb limit.
Lopez was looking ahead and moving on to another takeover at 140, with eyes on unified champion Josh Taylor who is also contracted with Top Rank. Perhaps, the distractions were a factor in this loss. Then again, Lopez claimed he was focused and in great condition to derail any plans of stopping this takeover.
But take a brief look again at the Punchstats:
— Courtesy of CompuBox
What stands out here are the jabs thrown by Kanbosos Jr. and Lopez trying to sustain his fight plan after seeing that first round dictate what could be ahead. Lopez said he was side swapped and the knockdown was no cause for concern.
Yet it should have been a concern. His father, as most if not all fighter-father relationships in the corner, was clearly not providing the proper direction and stuck with the plan. But how to counter that right of Kanbosos appeared and should have been a concern.
Bypass the foul mouths and obscenities of this father and son duo. look at the egos here that got in the way. To Teofimo Lopez and his dad, well they were the takeover and it was supposed to continue.
Perhaps, that ego needs to be altered and Lopez has to face reality. This loss does not look good. Reality will keep Lopez on the sidelines and recover with a first order of business to make changes in the corner, perhaps putting his dad on the sidelines and seeking a renowned trainer if he wants to resume a takeover.
Over the years the best have gone down to defeat. And at times that required a change in the corner. The ego and fight plan changed and it can if Teofimo Lopez uses the same strategy.
In the meantime, this takeover has been put on hiatus. It was fun while it lasted and Teofimo Lopez will resurface with hopes he faced reality Saturday night in New York.
FIGUEROA-FULTON JR. Draw? This super bantamweight unification could have been ruled a draw as both went to-to-toe and a top candidate for fight of the year that was difficult to score.
But Stephen Fulton Jr. unified the WBO and WBC titles with a majority decision that had a low key Brandon Figueroa leaving with a good argument about not ending up with the decision or getting the draw.
I had it even after 12-rounds (114-114) on the Showtime Boxing.PBC telecast, and it appeared, as Figueroa said, he landed the cleaner shots. If anything there is reason for a rematch unless Figueroa decides to move up in weight.
A combined 1,700 punches thrown, 1,060 from Figueroa (CompuBox) would be enough for the judges to render a draw here. But as they say often, put in the hands of judges and a close fight becomes controversial.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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