George Kambosos has just won the biggest victory of his life; Now he becomes the emperor at Lightweight
When the fight finally ended on Saturday, George Kambosos approached Teofimo Lopez in his corner and kissed him. He squeezed Lopez’s hand and brought his face closer to Lopez’s, probably muttering words of comfort and encouragement. Kambosos was as enthusiastic in his attempt to show respect to Lopez in the moments following Kambosos’ greatest career triumph as he was in the ring minutes earlier as he served Lopez as one of its lowest moments.
Minutes later, ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr., said what Kambosos already knew. He had beaten the undefeated Lopez, the conqueror of Vasiliy Lomachenko, and won all three lightweight belts.
Kambosos had paid homage to Lopez, and Lopez reluctantly, for a moment at least, had returned the favor. But Lopez also looked dazed and shocked. As if he couldn’t believe what had happened or how. Even before Lennon spoke out, Lopez didn’t look like the 135-pound champion. He looked beaten.
“I could see it in his eyes,” Kambosos told me on Monday, less than 48 hours after the underdog 7/1 pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year. “I know he didn’t know what happened. Then he interrupted my time to shine. But he is young. He will learn.
Kambosos gave Lopez a few lessons on Saturday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Madison Square Garden. He used Lopez’s early aggression and wild punches against him, knocking Lopez down with a nice right-hand counter at the end of the first round to change the tenor of the fight. He showed Lopez himself worthy of respect by stepping off the canvas in the 10e and survive a furious attempt by Lopez to end the fight.
Then he showed Lopez how to behave in a post-fight interview. Kambosos remained calm when Lopez requisitioned Showtime interviewer Jim Gray’s microphone and said he had won 10 of 12 rounds, was the rightful winner and even the referee knew it. Lopez, who fights from Brooklyn, was the hometown favorite on Saturday night. After saying that he had dominated the night and that he was always going to return to the sport, the crowd started to boo him.
On Monday, however, none of this involved Kambosos.
“As the great Cus D’Amato said, you have to act like a champion before you become the champion,” Kambosos said. “I am cool, calm and collected at the moment. I’m just enjoying the moment.
He should. What he showed on Saturday night was that he belongs to the conversation as the world’s best 135-pounder. When people talk about the best young lightweights in the sport, the conversation usually revolves around Lopez, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia and Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Some people have compared this quartet to the middleweight era of the Four Kings in the 1980s with Leonard, Hearns, Hagler and Duran.
No, said Kambosos. He has now called himself Emperor. He said he ruled them all.
“What is greater than a king?” An emperor, ”Kambosos said. “An emperor comes to several lands and takes over. I came into the backyards of all these veterans and participated in these fights. I went there and shocked the world. I walked out of there with all the belts on.
“I’m the best guy. I am the best dog. I am the caller. I am not in any group. These guys all had to be in there together. But I have done this trip several times on my own, I was alone on this plane. I’m in the ring, and I’m the one man army. I’m in a section on my own. I have all the belts, all the jewelry.
Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) makes a good point. The Aussie hasn’t fought in his home country since 2017. Instead, he had to win fights in Kuala Lumpur and Greece, and he had to beat Wales-born Lee Selby in UK. Then, of course, he shocked Kambosos in his hometown.
Well, that was shocking to just about everyone except Kambosos, his manager Peter Kahn, and promoter Lou DiBella.
“You need the right dance partner,” Kambosos said. “Lopez was my perfect dance partner. Yes, I got better after the [Lee] Selby fight. Of course, I got better. Every day I worked harder to improve myself. Without a doubt, I was improving. I showed the world who George Kambosos is.
Maybe Kambosos caught Lopez at the right time, especially if you’re reading this Boxing scene history, who said that “Inside Lopez there seemed to be a swirling collection of rage, paranoia and loneliness creating a storm that he was desperately trying to protect himself with with training and self-help mantras. . “
Maybe, as Kambosos told me, he emotionally drained Lopez before the fight even started. Or maybe Kambosos is just better than most of us thought.
Either way, he now has to take the lead in lightweight.
If Lopez wants a rematch, he may have to travel to Australia in front of 80,000 fans to get one. If Haney beats Joseph Diaz this Saturday and wants to unify the four lightweight titles, Kambosos will have his say. If Kambosos, who earned $ 166,000 just 13 months ago against Lee Selby and then roughly $ 1.5 million against Lopez, wants a $ 5 million purse the next time he fights, he could very order it well.
It is in the future, however. On Monday, Kambosos was still in New York, but he will return home to Australia soon enough and will finally be able to spend time with his third child, born nine weeks ago. He can finally catch his breath over the past nine months, where the fight has constantly shifted dates, locations and streaming services and pandemonium instead of punches reigned over the schedule.
To finally find that place to relax and bask in what he has accomplished, he will travel the other side of the world to return home. For now, though, he’s just sitting on it.
READ THE RECENT Q&A OF BOXERS