To this day, Teofimo Lopez Jr. couldn’t tell you whether George Kambosos Jr. deserved the nod in his last fight, or even how he got the job done on the road versus Lee Selby.
All that was of concern to the lineal lightweight champion was that Kambosos was the only one standing in line by the time he was ready to defend his crown.
“To be honest, I don’t look at who I’m facing in the way of watching film or anything like that,” Lopez clarified during a recent media conference call to discuss his upcoming mandatory title defense. “So, I really can’t say. I heard it was a close fight, a close call. However, George Kambosos is the guy that got the win, he got the job done and became my mandatory.”
Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) earned the right to next contend for the IBF lightweight title following a 12-round decision win over Wales’ Selby last Halloween on the road at Wembley’s SSE Arena. The fight took place two weeks after Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) bumped off pound-for-pound entrant Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) to win the WBA and WBO titles along with the label of WBC “Franchise” champion while retaining his IBF strap.
Lopez earned 2020 Fighter of the Year honors based off of the career-best performance, a feat he hoped to parlay into a blockbuster event for his first fight of 2021. The 23-year-old knew of a mandatory title defense looming overhead, but still hoped to land a bigger fight against fellow divisional young guns Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23KOs), WBC titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) and Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs).
Once it became clear that all were headlining in different directions, the focus then shifted on his upcoming challenger.
“A lot of folks—these guys had four months after I beat Lomachenko, and I’m talking about the guys in my division—they had four months to send me a contract. Not one of them did,” insists Lopez. “This is all ended up becoming about George Kambosos at the end.
“This is not on me. I guess they expected me to throw contracts at them after becoming undisputed. I have all the belts. It’s crazy, a lot of folks don’t see the behind-the-scenes stuff. I don’t duck or dodge anybody. I don’t overlook any of my competition. I’m just looking right through him.”
Lopez-Kambosos takes place June 19 atop a Triller Fight Club Pay-Per-View event from loanDepot Park, home of MLB’s Miami Marlins.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox