décembre 8, 2021

George Kambosos vs Teofimo Lopez world lightweight title

5 min read

« It was all meant to be. »

George Kambosos’ path to this Sunday’s (AEDT) world title showdown with unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) has been strewn with pot holes and misadventure.

Six cancellations, a change of promoters and Lopez’s COVID-19 diagnosis all threw the highly anticipated bout off course. But amidst the the uncertainty and confusion, life came full circle for the 19-0 Sydney fighter.

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Kambosos was willing to miss the birth of his third child during the initial dates set for the event but as the event was rescheduled time and time again, the lack of clarity around the fight afforded him time to be there for the arrival of the newest member of his family.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 16: Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr. pose during a press conference for Triller Fight Club at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on April 16, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia ahead of their June 5 lightweight title fight. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller) (Getty Images for Triller)

« It worked out good, » Kambosos told Wide World of Sports. « What happened was I was scheduled to fight October 4th. We were going to fly out on the 25th (September) for the fight.

« So me and my wife decided to get her induced to have the baby on a Friday so I could be here for the few hours and see my baby born before I fly out.

« So she had the baby on the Friday, it was a blessing. And I was meant to fly out the next day; that’s how prepared I was to fight on the 4th. That’s how much it meant to me.

« To have the baby, be there literally for a couple of hours and then fly out and fight. But everything changed and it all worked out the way it was meant to be. »

Fate had more in store for the « blessed » Kambosos that day. Within hours of welcoming his child into the world, the undefeated Greek-raised Sydney fighter’s day turned « bittersweet ».

« It was a crazy day, because on that same day my grandfather George Kambosos passed away, » he said.

« An angel came and an angel left. He was a good man. The motivation it’s giving me now, having the baby and losing my grandfather.

« He was so excited to watch it but he will be with me in that ring. He’ll be in my corner. It was all meant to be. I was here for the baby. I was here for the funeral. »

Kambosos has been through the ringer the entire year because of a myriad of issues out of his control. He’s been ready to fight the entire time and has maintained his steely resolve and unflinching work ethic.

Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr face off during a press conference. (Getty Images for Triller)

That could have changed while the boxing world’s tentacles took hold during a dispute between the Australian and previous promoters Triller.

The Kambosos camp moved to have Triller stripped of its promoting duties for the fight, which slashed the Australian’s total pay packet by about 25 per cent.

The undefeated fighter has never been about the money, because « we can’t take it with us when we’re gone ». He says his grandfather’s death further hardened his beliefs and reminded him why he’s in the fight game despite the challenges he’s been forced to confront to make his dream a reality.

« If I’m prepared to lose money and people think it’s a lot but when you work things out it ain’t too much. It’s about honour, » he added.

« It’s about leaving a legacy for the name George Kambosos. My grandfather passed away. I visit the cemetery quite frequently because it’s close to the gym. That’s my dad’s dad. I was named after him.

« There’s a lot of meaning there. I want to make that name very proud now. He was always very proud with what I’ve achieved and how I brought a lot of honour to the name.

Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr face off during a press conference. (Getty Images for Triller)

« When you go to the cemetery you see all these different names, and they’re just names. But when you walk past a name that is known, and people see the name and say ‘George Kambosos, that must be the grandfather of the undisputed champion,’ that’s what matters to me, not money. »

Kambosos goes into the fight a massive underdog, with most of the money on Lopez to defend his belts. Both men have been inactive this year. Both last entered the the ring in October 2020. Yet there are signs the 24-year-old champion might be taking the Australian lightly. Speaking ahead of the fight this week, Lopez was asked what his game plan is to defeat Kambosos.

« I’m just looking forward to putting on a show. I don’t have a game plan for Saturday night. I just got to do what I got to do, » he said.

« I’m looking forward to reminding myself who I still am, and that’s the undisputed unified lightweight world champion. »

Tensions between the camps almost boiled over during the week when fathers of both fighters, Teofimo Lopez snr and George Kambosos snr, had to be separated by security. Kambosos believes the bravado and the lack of respect for his team means one thing.

« They’re scared. I saw the look in his eyes earlier this year when we came face to face. He looked like a little boy. He even admitted it to me afterwards, he said ‘you got me that one’. They talk big but they don’t know what’s coming. »

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