Tuesday, November 23, 2021

FINALLY! Lopez-Kambosos


The first time this observer saw the word “FINALLY!” in relation to the promotion of a Boxing event it was prior to my covering the first encounter between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield as a young writer, who was honestly just starting to get his feet wet in regard to not only the practice of being a writer, but also covering combat sports when the fight took place with much anticipation in November 1996. Of course, the term “FINALLY!” in all the promotion that surrounded the fight was due to the fact that the fight, which was originally scheduled to take place in June of 1992, but was cancelled due to a Tyson conviction that resulted in a three year jail sentence and the fighters subsequently taking different paths in those years including when Tyson resumed his career in 1995, was finally going to become a reality.


There are times however, where the phrase “FINALLY” can and perhaps should be used if not to describe the anticipation of an encounter, than certainly to describe the fact that an often postponed fight that was the result of various elements including, but not limited to illness, and the business elements that be in the sport is “Finally” going to take place. This observer is referring to the battle for the Undisputed Lightweight world championship between undefeated world champion Teofimo Lopez and undefeated IBF number one contender George Kambosos. In the interest of honesty with the reader, yours truly has had his preview for this fight written and sitting in the can since the bout was originally scheduled to take place in April of this year.  While elements of that material will be seen as this column/preview progresses, as most know, this bout has been postponed several times. Although I would prefer both as someone who has covered what has frankly been a fiasco over the past several months that can be referenced in the archives through various articles related to the fight and the Lightweight division here on The Boxing Truth®, the short version is that the champion Lopez first came down with the COVID-19 virus, while it is unfortunately true that the world remains in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic, that was just the start of things.


Unlike where in most circumstances when a fighter is ill, a rescheduled date once it is determined that the fighter is able to compete is made, this fight has seen several starts, stops, and changes in venue due to the inexperience of recent newcomer into the Boxing promotional business Triller. The promotional and entertainment entity that bid $6 million for the rights to promote this fight via an open purse bid held by the International Boxing Federation (IBF). Despite securing those rights and marketing the bout throughout the year to be staged as a pay-per-view event, Triller frequently changed dates and the venue where the bout would take place resulting in a rift between the promoter, the fighters, and the sanctioning organization, the IBF, that quite frankly resembled an ESPN 30 For 30 documentary.


In short, in October the IBF ruled that Triller had defaulted on it’s bid to stage the bout, resulting in the more seasoned promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who bid over $3 million in that IBF purse bid to step in and stage the fight, which will “FINALLY!” take place on November 27th at the Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, which can be seen globally on globally digital sports streaming network DAZN.


Now that yours truly has hopefully brought the reader up to date and hope to have done so in as condensed a way as possible, now we get to the preview of the fight itself. For Teófimo Lopez, who will enter the fight unbeaten with a record of 16-0, with 12 Knockouts, this will be his second title defense and first since unifying the world Lightweight championship to become an undisputed world champion when he defeated Vasyl Lomachenko in October of last year. Lopez, who had built a reputation for his ability to score quick knockouts that many would call head turning or highlight reel worthy, surprised many by showcasing his Boxing ability in the fight against Lomachenko in tactically out Boxing Lomachenko, who was viewed as a significant favorite over twelve rounds to win a wide unanimous decision.


The primary thing that Lopez proved in that fight, at least in this observer’s view, was that he was much more than a “Knockout Artist.” While it is very tempting to say that Lopez is the complete package particularly after such an unexpected and impressive performance that he put forth against Lomachenko, I will say for now that at minimum he showed an evolving skillset and that makes him an even more dangerous fighter to face and try to combat.


A danger that can be present for a fighter such as Lopez however, is after coming off of such a high in scoring the biggest win of his career in a fight he dominated, the potential to lose focus is there. While obviously we do not know as to whether that potential could be a factor in this fight, what Lopez will be facing in George Kambosos is a fighter that like him is unbeaten.


Kambosos, who is undefeated with a record of 19-0, with 10 Knockouts, is a former Australian Lightweight champion, who will have a slight advantage in terms of professional experience over the champion. Currently rated number one by both the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO), Kambosos is a boxer/puncher who has a very compact style and is a solid counter puncher. The key to this encounter in my eyes is whether or not Kambosos will be able to control the tempo of the combat.


Taking Teofimo Lopez’ last performance out of the equation for a moment, Lopez is a fighter who likes to walk his opposition down and land power shots with fight ending intentions. As compact as Kambosos is with his offense, it will be interesting to see whether he will be able to control the tempo against a fighter who is also quick even though that is an aspect of Lopez’ skillset that has not been a focal point of discussion in his career likely due to his ability to end a fight with one punch. Now, re-entering Lopez’ performance against Vasyl Lomachenko back into the equation, the possibility exists that Lopez could once again try to implement a tactical Boxing strategy.


An obvious question that will have to be answered by both fighters when they finally get into the ring to do battle is what effects if any have the postponements, as well as the legal issues involving both the IBF and Triller have had on them and their respective preparation for this fight. Boxers are after all human just like the rest of us and there has to be at least a little effect that a fighter has when faced with such circumstances as both Lopez and Kambosos have had over the last several months just trying to get this fight in the ring.


While there are other business elements at play regarding Lopez that will follow coming out of this fight that should be discussed, assuming of course in all seriousness that it finally does take place, this observer will close this column by saying that by the look of things, this fight is as close to taking place is it has been throughout 2021 and if Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing can succeed in getting the fight in the ring, the entire sport from the fighters themselves, to contenders in the Lightweight division that have been fighting while Lopez and Kambosos have been stuck in limbo, to those of us who cover the sport can be relieved that “FINALLY” it will happen. We can only hope.


“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”


Lopez vs. Kambosos takes place on Saturday, November 27th at The Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 5PM ET/2PM PT with Before The Bell, which will feature preliminary bouts on the undercard followed by the main card, which will begin at 8PM ET/5PM PT. (U.S. Times).


*Card Subject To Change.


For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices/platforms/Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.


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