Inside the Jab

New champ George Kambosos Jr. shows off his straps.
Photo: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Well, we did say that upsets happen !

In our Friday Faceup we suggested George Kambosos Jr. stood a chance against Teofimo Lopez but, it was slim. Whilst we were wide of the mark with our prediction, a first for a long time I must add, we did mention a few underdogs upsetting the ‘applecart’ in the past. The tough and talented Aussie sure did show up, ripping the lightweight crown from the Honduran New Yorker by a split, but convincing decision on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

We pointed lightly to Kambosos’ self-proclamation of a statue being erected in Sydney, Australia to honour his pending accomplishment. Well, he’s the one laughing now. The new champ was brilliant and, despite Lopez’ claim, was the boss on the night.

Kambosos (20-0, 10 KO’s) dealt with Lopez (16-1, 12 KO’s) intensity and wreckless abandonment in the opening minute to set his stall out for the fight, landing a booming overhand right flush on Lopez and registering the first knockdown. Lopez was caught cold and visibly shocked, but rose before the bell.

What then followed was a regaining of composure by the champion in the second round but the die had been cast. The heavily tattooed Aussie with ‘Never retreat, never surrender’ on his back, a mantra for his performance on the night, exuded supreme confidence boxing on the back foot but in the exchanges pot-shotting with his right hand over Lopez’ jab.

Lopez won some early rounds but the challenger took control mid fight and other than getting clipped with a big right in the ninth and subsequently dropped by a chopping right hand in the tenth, the Aussie stood his ground and dominated.

Both fighters were cut from the eighth in what was a bruising encounter, but two strong rounds by Kambosos in the eleventh convincingly, and twelfth sealed the deal. American TV punchstats showed Kambosos had landed 155 powerpunches to Lopez’ 115.

On the final bell the contrasting body language of both fighters showed Lopez title reign looked to have ended. Kambosos’ confidence was rewarded with a split decision victory by scores of 115-111, 113-114 and 115-112. It was highly debatable whether the second card told the story of the fight and a worthy new champ had been crowned.

Kambosos captured The Ring magazine lightweight championship and the multiple baubles of the sanctioning bodies. Devin Haney is the WBC ‘world’ champion, but the Aussie beat the man (Lopez) who beat the man (Vasiliy Lomachenko) and can rightly claim to be the lineal champion. As the fight went to purse bids there is no rematch clause so Lopez will have to wait in line, whilst the other 9st 9lb (135lb) contenders queue up to challenge the new champ.

An ecstatic Kambosos proclaimed post-fight ” You got the Four Kings, (but) I’m the Emperor !”. The result was one that sent shock waves through the sport. Lopez entered the contest 13-1 on to gain the victory, but boxing again showed us never underestimate an underdog. In many ways it has rejuvenated confidence in the sport.

Kambosos accepted he is now “the hunted” but big fights await him back in Australia, whoever he chooses to take on next. ‘The Emperor’ has deserved his place in the sun and we look forward to the next chapter.

Battle of Britain

Amir Khan (left) and Kell Brook get up close and personal.

Finally, two former ‘world’ welterweight champs and bitter domestic rivals Kell Brook and Amir Khan will settle their score in the ring. In London yesterday at a tense press conference it was announced they would meet on Saturday 19 February 2020 at the Manchester AO Arena.

The event will be promoted by BOXXER in association with Sky Sports who will televise the contest on their Box Office (pay per view) channel.

This is a genuine grudge match and although maybe coming a few years too late to have significance at world level, is an intriguing match up. Outside of Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury this is the biggest ‘name’ fight in the UK to be made. Both have operated for the last decade at the elite level and, although come up short in recent years, have bags of experience and pedigree. What makes the contest most intriguing is who has the most left ? They’ve both suffered KO defeats and bounced back to then be defeated again. They’re of a similar age (Brook 35 to Khan’s 34) and likely to put it all on line on the night.

Over the next few months there will be some cynicism towards the contest but it’s a fight that has a lot to offer. In a feisty press conference Brook (39-3, 27 KO’s) pointed to Khan (34-5, 21 KO’s) avoiding him for years. Khan responded with an explanation of being “on different paths” in the past but claimed he always wanted the fight. It will pit a man from Bolton NW England against one from over the Pennines (a local mountain range) in Sheffield. Therefore northern England bragging rights will also be at stake.

Both have been inactive – Khan last fighting in July 2019 and Brook in November 2020. Both have lost to elite fighters – sharing defeats to Terence Crawford in 2019 (Khan) and 2020 (Brook) respectively. Both have a back story to schoolboy level where their paths have crossed but never met in the ring. The animosity has been bubbling for many years and marinaded to this point.

It will pit a talented and historically quick orthodox fighter (Khan) against a slick southpaw (Brook). Over the next few months look for the hype to build towards their overdue, but still interesting showdown.

Finally, we build up this week towards Saturday’s (4th December) mouthwatering rematch between world ranked light-heavyweights Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde. Manchester’s Arthur (19-0, 13 KO’s) will attempt to repeat his defeating of Hackney’s Yarde (21-2, 20 KO’s) on split decision almost a year to the day. The big punching Yarde now has two recent defeats on his record and will attempt to get back on track. Arthur will be protecting his WBO world #1 ranking.

The fight is promoted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and will take place at the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. It will be televised live on BT Sport.

Look out for a full preview in the Friday Faceup.

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