30 Nov 2021 | 06:59
Teofimo Lopez promised to enter the ring against George Kambosos Jr. and defend his unified lightweight world championships with a first-round knockout. Lopez tried to deliver on his word by coming out firing with massive power shots in the opening frame, but it was Kambosos who scored the knockdown with a monster of an overhand right. That moment set the tone for the night and what proved to be a shocking upset as the heavy underdog scored the win by split decision inside the Hulu Theater in New York City.
Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) picked himself off the canvas after the knockdown but spent much of the fight walking forward into flurries from Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs), never putting together extended streaks of offense. As Lopez stuck to headhunting in the early rounds, Kambosos slipped and popped off heavy jabs and came back over the top with straight right hands.
The way the fight began was all the more shocking considering Kambosos was seen as little more than an undeserving mandatory challenger entering the fight. While lightweight is loaded with big names and top-tier fighters, Lopez was ordered by the IBF to face Kambosos or vacate the championship. Lopez had added the WBA and WBO titles to his IBF belt with a stunning upset of longtime pound-for-pound elite Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020 and was not going to give up a title. Lopez agreed to the fight even as fans, media and his camp laughed off the idea of the Australian challenger being a test for the young phenom.