NEW YORK – Vasiliy Lomachenko took offense Thursday when a reporter asked him if he was “happy” that Teofimo Lopez lost to George Kambosos Jr.
Despite their rivalry, Lomachenko expressed empathy for Lopez, who was heavily favored to beat Kambosos on November 27 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Lomachenko remembers what it was like to do his own soul searching following his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Lopez in October 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
“I am not happy because I understand what he’s feeling because I was in the same situation when I lose,” Lomachenko told a group of reporters following a press conference to promote his fight against Richard Commey on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. “It’s never happy for you when you lose. Sorry, my English is not good, but I think you understand what I mean.
“[When you] lose, it’s always hard to continue your career. You need to find motivation. You need to find what push you in the gym, what push you [to] come back in the gym and train hard and continue your career. So, I understand his feeling now. But it is what it is. This is sport. This is boxing. This is why we love boxing.”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko admitted he was surprised Lopez lost to Australia’s Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs), who was the mandatory challenger for Lopez’s IBF lightweight title.
“I was surprised a little bit, but before the fight I gave some chance [to] Kambosos,” Lomachenko said. “But I was surprised in the first round that he goes down. I was very surprised. And during the fight, I think Lopez have a problem with his strategy.”
Kambosos dropped Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) late in the first round, the round in which Lopez repeatedly predicted that he would knock out his challenger. Lopez wasn’t badly hurt, however, came back to make their 12-round, 135-pound title bout very competitive and knocked Kambosos to the canvas early in the 10th round.
The 28-year-old Kambosos displayed tremendous resilience of his own by withstanding serious trouble in that 10th round. He beat Lopez on two scorecards (115-111, 115-112, 113-114) to win the IBF, WBA “super,” WBC “franchise” and WBO lightweight titles.
Brooklyn’s Lopez was hospitalized a couple days after his first professional defeat to treat a breathing condition that multiple doctors determined would’ve prevented him from boxing Kambosos had it been detected during a pre-fight physical examination (https://www.boxingscene.com/doctor-teofimo-lopez-lucky-hes-not-dead-due-breathing-issue-kambosos-bout--162500).
“Every time you hear about an injury to a boxer, you feel sorry for the boxer,” Lomachenko said. “You sympathize and I’m really happy that he’s going to recover and get out of this situation.”
Caesars Sportsbook lists the 33-year-old Lomachenko (15-2, 11 KOs), a three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, as an 8-1 favorite to beat Ghana’s Commey (30-3, 27 KOs), whom Lopez stopped in the second round of their December 2019 bout at The Garden. Their 12-round lightweight match will headline ESPN’s four-fight telecast, which is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.