During a rare weekend without UFC action to focus on, boxing takes precedence this Saturday as three-belt lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez finally prepares to make the first defence of his titles against IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. Will it be a happy end to a disruptive 2021 for the champion, or is an Australian upset on the cards?
Lopez insists God will humble Kambosos Jr for family disrespect
The Takeover hasn’t been seen since stunning Vasiliy Lomachenko last October, but returns to his birthplace this weekend and vowed to show the Australian challenger his rightful place on Saturday night. As quoted by Boxing Scene, the 24-year-old had plenty to say about the topic:
“You have to know your place and on Saturday, God is going to humble this man through me. A lot of these people are so ambitious and you have to be…
But the thing is, sometimes you don’t get it because you probably won’t carry it the right way – you’re not going to be a people’s champ – you’re going to spend money on yourself, rather than giving back like a lot of fighters do.
The amount of disrespect from him, talking about my mother? I warned him [and] his manager, don’t talk about my family – they can say anything else – but once you cross that line, that barrier, fuck his manager Peter Kahn and him.
I’m thankful that DAZN has picked up this fight, for Eddie Hearn and everyone that has played a role in this. It’s a blessing to be here but it’s time to start putting people in their place, time they sit down and be humble. There comes a point that you just have to smack these guys.”
Kambosos Jr backs himself, as he should
Kambosos Jr doesn’t think so. I wrote about how the original bout was twice postponed from June because of Lopez’s positive COVID-19 test, which only served to fuel George’s fire more.
Despite being a huge pre-fight underdog, Kambosos is publicly backing his motor and underrated defensive abilities to prove key en route to a surprise outcome later this week.
“My speed, the way I move, explosive power and combination punches that I have in my artillery… my stamina and fitness is just too much for this kid.
He’s praying that it’s a first-round knockout because it has to be, what’s he going to do for the next 11 when he doesn’t get it?
I’m fully prepared, got a big motor and every round I keep getting better. My defense? So underrated in the boxing world, super sharp and my reflexes, head movement and footwork, they’re going to find out the hard way.”
Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) earned this shot by winning an IBF title eliminator via split decision vs. Britain’s Lee Selby 13 months ago. It’s unsurprising he isn’t favoured, as that was his second successive victory of that kind after edging past Mickey Bey in a 10-round duel in Dec. 2019.
The win over Bey was heralded as a career-best result at the time and while his UK debut last year didn’t exactly leave fans drooling over this matchup, it importantly showed he can go twelve rounds against world level opposition – the first time he’s done that as an eight-year pro.
While this will be the biggest challenge of his career, he’s previously shared the ring with esteemed company – boxing legend Manny Pacquiao in 2017 – so shouldn’t be overawed by the occasion, especially having had to wait almost six months from the original date.
Whether he’ll be able to spring a nasty surprise on Lopez, whose handlers are already looking forward to bigger and more lucrative fights in 2022, remains to be seen. Be sure to stay tuned to moandsports.com though, as I’ll have fight coverage and a full review on the site this weekend.
Picture source: Getty Images, Ed Mulholland via DAZN