Teofimo Lopez Jr. is ready to defend his titles tomorrow.
The lineal lightweight champion claimed as much and flashing the physique to back up such claims while on stage to formally announce his June 5 title defense versus mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. A press conference was held on Friday in Atlanta to announce their upcoming clash, which will air live on Pay-Per-View from a yet-to-be-announced location though likely LoanDepot Park (nee Marlins Park), home of Major League Baseball’s Florida Marlins in Miami as previously reported by BoxingScene.com.
A simple announcement presser quickly turned ugly as the pair of unbeaten lightweights sold it like they were ready to fight on the spot. Lopez has insisted that he will knock out Kambosos inside of three rounds, while Kambosos alleged that the defending champion has chin issues. Both boxers didn’t hesitate to get in each other’s face during a spirited exchange which saw Lopez lose his shirt and his cool.
“You’re lucky we’re not fighting right now,” Lopez shouted at Kambosos while on stage, separated only by press conference host Ray Flores who was ultimately forced to separate the two once matters escalated. “In reality I would put you on a f----- stretcher.”
The comment, among several others, seemed to capture the attention of Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs), who was having fun with the session. The Australian native is under the impression that he is further along in preparation for his first major title fight than is the case for the reigning lightweight king and 2020 Fighter of the Year.
“You can’t even make weight,” insisted Kambosos. “You wouldn’t even make weight. Look at you, boy.”
Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) used the moment to flash his ripped midsection, stripping off a t-shirt sporting an image of Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone character from The Godfather.
“You just showed me an example of why I’m gonna put everybody on their f-----’ ass,” vowed Lopez. “You know what, I’m gonna put my foot on your neck, my dude.”
The challenger wasn’t having it.
“I’m taking all your belts, all your belts,” promised Kambosos.
Brooklyn’s Lopez generally remains in shape, often posting videos of his workout session regardless of whether a fight is scheduled. Triller Fight Club presented Lopez and Kambosos with more than six million reasons to remain incentivized for the upcoming PPV event. Triller CEO Ryan Kavanaugh secured the rights to the lightweight championship fight after submitting an offer of $6,018,000 during a purse bid hearing held late February, outbidding Matchroom Boxing as well as Lopez’s now estranged promoter Top Rank.
Both boxers will collect career-best paydays as a result, fittingly after registering their most significant wins to date.
Lopez fights for the first time since outpointing Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) in their WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight title unification clash last October in Las Vegas. With the win, Lopez remained on the hook to honor his IBF mandatory title defense obligations.
Kambosos earned his way to that position following a 12-round unanimous decision over former featherweight titlist Lee Selby last Halloween in London, England. The win came 10 months after Sydney’s Kambosos edged former lightweight titlist Mickey Bey over ten rounds in their Dec. 2019 battle at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The victory over Bey took place on the same undercard which saw Lopez collect his first title, knocking out Richard Commey in the 2nd round to win the IBF lightweight crown. Lopez has since soared to superstardom following his convincing points win over Lomachenko., regarded by many at the time as among the best in the world, pound-for-pound. That distinction now belongs to Lopez, who believes his challenger is merely along for the ride.
“You should be thanking me, my guy,” shouted Lopez. “You should be thanking me!”
His challenger didn’t quite see things that way.
“What did you do? What did you do,” questioned Kambosos, before reminding him of the manner in which the two are permitted to collect healthy seven-figure paydays. “My team came and spoke for you. My team. Your promoter didn’t.”
The claim made by Kambosos refers to his manager, Peter Kahn urging Triller Fight Club (TFC) to get involved in the purse bid hearing for the lightweight title fight. Kahn has since earned the role of Chief Financial Officer for TFC, which presents the event along with Saturday’s PPV in Atlanta featuring YouTube star Jake Paul and former mixed martial artist Ben Askren in the evening’s main event.
Lopez is thrilled with how things turned out, as his side is due to collect $3,911,700 from the aforementioned purse bid amount less the percentage due to Top Rank. Kambosos and his team are entitled to the remaining $2,106,300, although a paycheck cannot climb into the ring and do the fighting for either boxer.
“Just be there June 5 and I’ll do the rest,” Lopez requested of his undefeated challenger.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox