It has been more than a year since Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos last stepped on a scale before a presiding commission.
The pair of unbeaten lightweights waded through several holidays—including Thanksgiving just one day ago—to make weight for their oft-postponed lineal WBA/IBF/WBO championship clash Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) weighed 135 pounds, putting to rest any concerns of his struggling to make weight ahead of his second overall title defense. Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) clocked in at a fighting fit 134.4 pounds for his first career title fight.
Months of tension was evident throughout fight week and during the obligatory post weigh-in staredown, which remained civil but contentious before they were separated.
The bout represents the first for both boxers since separate wins two weeks apart last October. Lopez triumphed over Vasiliy Lomachenko via unanimous decision last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas to win the WBA and WBO lightweights while defending his IBF belt. Kambosos emerged as the IBF mandatory challenger two weeks later in a twelve-round decision victory over former featherweight titlist Lee Selby last Halloween on the road in London.
The mandatory title fight was formally ordered this past January before heading to a February 25 purse bid hearing. The session was won by Triller Fight Club, who submitted an offer of $6,018,000 to claim promotional rights.
Lopez and Kambosos stood to make far and away the biggest paydays of their respective careers, only to deal with a comedy of errors spread out over the next eight months. No fewer than six official dates were announced before the fight was scrapped altogether after Triller Fight Club was ruled to have defaulted on the terms of the purse bid. The next highest bidder was Matchroom Boxing, who agreed to proceed with its original offer of $3,506,000 to present the bout this weekend.
Lopez has spent his entire career at lightweight but has vowed that Saturday’s bout will be his last as he plans t set his sights on the 140-pound junior welterweight division. Kambosos has mostly fought at lightweight, with no designs of abandoning the division he vows to rule by the end of Saturday evening.
The chief support also settles old business in the way of crowning an IBF junior lightweight titlist. The vacant belt is at stake for a scheduled 12-round bout between top rated contenders Azinga Fuzile (15-1, 9KOs) and Kenichi Ogawa (25-1-1, 18KOs), both of whom made weight.
Fuzile weighed 129.6 pounds for his second straight fight in the United States. The 25-year-old southpaw from East London, South Africa became the mandatory challenger following a seventh-round stoppage of England’s Martin Ward in their title eliminator this past May 29 in Las Vegas.
Ogawa weighed 129.4 pounds for his second attempt at this very belt, also fighting in the U.S. for the second time. The 33-year-old Tokyo native briefly held the belt following a disputed split decision win over Tevin Farmer in their December 2017 vacant title fight in Las Vegas. The verdict was overturned after Ogawa tested positive for Androstanediol, leaving the belt vacant before Farmer claimed it eight months later.
Ogawa is 3-0-1 since then, and unbeaten in his last 19 starts since the lone defeat of his career which was avenged two fights later.
The winner of Fuzille-Ogawa will win the vacant IBF belt left behind after Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz missed weight ahead of his 12-round draw with Shavkat Rakhimov in February. Ogawa was initially due to face Rakhimov, who was unable to move forwarded with the mandated fight and was replaced by Fuzile.
Below are the weights for the remaining undercard bouts.
Raymond Ford (9-0-1, 5KOs), Camden, New Jersey, 126 pounds vs. Felix Caraballo (13-3-2, 9KOs), Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, 125.4 pounds—10 rds, featherweight
Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1, 17KOs), Zhoukou, China, 274 pounds vs. Craig Lewis (14-4-1, 8KOs), Detroit, 273.4 pounds—8 rds, heavyweight
Ramla Ali (3-0, 0KOs), London via Mogadishu, Somalia, 122.2 pounds vs. Isela Vera (1-0, 0KO), Long Beach, California via Hidalgo, Mexico, 121 pounds—4 rds, junior featherweight
Christina Cruz (1-0, 0KOs), New York City, 111.6 pounds vs. Maryguenn Vellinga (3-1-2, 2KOs), Park City, Utah, 110.8 pounds—6 rds, flyweight
Christopher Herrera (pro debut), East Los Angeles, 118 pounds vs. Jonathan Tejeda (pro debut), Mexico City, 115.4 pounds—4 rds, bantamweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox