Teofimo Lopez makes his long-awaited return in opposition to feisty George Kambosos Jnr, writes Matt Christie
BRACE yourselves, we had been informed, the light-weight division is about to catch fireplace. Teófimo López had out-bedazzled Vasiliy Lomachenko, Ryan García appeared mustard whereas halting Luke Campbell, Devin Haney was getting higher and higher, and Gervonta Davis was threatening to stick round at 130lbs. A brand new period was upon us, they mentioned, simply you wait and see.
Well, one yr on and we’re nonetheless ready. There are sparkles of promise however we aren’t any nearer to any of the large 4 (or 5, in the event you embody Lomachenko) really preventing one another. If anyone wanted proof of the hurt the present politicking in boxing can do, or fancied a fast a lesson about what occurs when promoters, networks and a number of sanctioning our bodies rule a sport with out the necessity to reply to anybody bar themselves, they want solely take a look at the light-weight class: A division loaded with sufficient expertise to rival bygone eras and a lot pink tape round their necks they will’t get shut to one another. I don’t subscribe to the favored notion amongst old-timers that they don’t make fighters like they used to. Simply, they don’t make the fights they used to.
So we make do with what we are able to get. This weekend, Teófimo “The Takeover” López, the world champion and holder of no less than three sanctioning physique straps (good luck attempting to work out what’s occurring with the WBC belt), will appease the IBF, pay them a hefty payment, and battle the bloke they deem to be essentially the most worthy of a shot. George Kambosos Jnr, 19-0 (10), took his place atop the IBF rankings by beating Lee Selby final October. The solely different top-level fighter he’s crushed is Mickey Bey, who he outpointed by way of cut up determination over 10 rounds in December 2019. In the rankings we use, the fiercely impartial TBRB rankings, Kambosos sits at quantity eight. And that would appear about proper.
Frankly, given among the unbelievably unhealthy obligatory challengers the sanctioning our bodies have one way or the other manifested in recent times, it is a good matchup. A bout between a world champion and a high 10 contender ought to usually be welcomed with open arms however, with the elite preventing so sparingly today, it’s a disgrace they’re not preventing their closest rivals once they do. Even so, after 13 months on the sidelines (for a wide range of causes) since López’s beautiful exhibiting in opposition to Lomachenko, will probably be good to be reminded about what all of the fuss was about. On that night time in The Bubble, contained in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Teófimo wowed the smattering of ringsiders and lots of extra watching on tv around the globe.
López was magnificent. He was disciplined, on level, and clever. Only seldomly flashy, he caught to his gameplan, fenced with startling precision and took the battle to Lomachenko. As we rubbed our eyes in each marvel and disbelief, López sat on his stool after six rounds, content material he had received all of them. Loma did up his recreation within the second half however the lead his opponent had secured was all however unassailable. The scores had been lopsided on the finish, too lopsided, however the best man received. A star was born. A legend had fallen. And that new period was supposedly upon us.
Two weeks later, Kambosos and Lee Selby engaged in shut, largely unexciting fight. Selby sometimes threatened to take management however, whether or not off type or previous his greatest, he couldn’t successfully comprise his opponent. Kambosos took the choice after 12 rounds on a cut up that appeared clear lower. But, once more, the best man received. Even so, few had been including Kambosos’ identify to the heady mixture of light-weight expertise again then. So contained in the Theater (previously the Felt Forum) at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night time, thanks virtually solely to the IBF, he will get his probability to show he belongs. For that to occur, he’s going to have to be immeasurably higher than he was in opposition to Selby and hope, too, that López is just not fairly as supreme as he appeared in opposition to Lomachenko.
The Aussie is aggressive and basically sound. He has fast palms, throws eye-catching hooks in shut and is adept at straight punches down the center, too. Freddie Roach used to usually name on George when he wanted high quality sparring for Manny Pacquiao and sings Kambosos’ praises. Undoubtedly, the time spent on the Wild Card may have offered the 5/1 underdog with invaluable training. Yet, in comparison to López, he’s decidedly tough across the edges. His chin can dangle somewhat too lengthy within the air as his ft wrestle to maintain time together with his arms. He leaves himself open to counters when he assaults. And López, 16-0 (12), is a grasp at punishing any errors.
The choose merely has to be for the world champion, a hearty 1/8 favorite on the time of writing, to win. Kambosos received’t be overawed by the event, nor will he give a nasty account of himself. But what he’ll certainly discover is a fighter who is just too good, too correct and too spiteful. Though it’s all the time one thing of a raffle to predict an inside the space defeat for a fighter who has by no means been stopped – George Kambosos may end up to be this period’s George Chuvalo for all we all know – the sensation is that López, clearly within the temper for a battle, will land sufficient punches to finish the bout earlier than the tip, maybe within the center rounds. That new period we’ve been listening to a lot about simply may, finally, begin to take form.
The undercard is buoyed by one other sanctioning physique strap being contested. A vacant super-featherweight belt is up for grabs when Azinga Fuzile, 15-1, and Kenichi Ogawa, 25-1-1, collide over 12 rounds. It might be a terrific encounter, and we make Fuzile a slim favorite, however neither fighter is ranked in the true Top 10 so we received’t be calling the winner a world champion, though the IBF will.
Also on the Matchroom-promoted undercard is promising 9-0-1 featherweight southpaw, Raymond Ford, in opposition to Felix Caraballo in a 10-rounder, marketable however restricted heavyweight Zhilei Zhang takes on Craig Lewis and Somalian-born Ramla Ali, who fights out of Greenwich, London is about to battle Isela Vera.
The Verdict After too lengthy out of the ring, anticipate López to make up for lost time.