Good sportsmanship hasn’t made its way to any portion of the buildup leading into this weekend’s lightweight championship.
Teofimo Lopez Jr. wants to make sure it remains that way following his upcoming title defense versus mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr.
“After this fight, I don’t want to have no handshake, none of that,” Lopez insisted during a contentious pre-fight press conference at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, where he and Kambosos will collide Saturday evening on DAZN. “We’re gonna put your ass in a f-----’ stretcher.
“I am gonna stay focused on the task today, stay focused on you.”
Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) makes his second defense as a lightweight titlist, having won the IBF belt in the main room at MSG nearly two years ago. One fight has followed, the biggest of Lopez’s career to date as he outpointed Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs) last October in Las Vegas to collect the WBA, WBO and lineal crowns.
The win over Lomachenko came two weeks prior to Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) advancing to the top spot in the IBF rankings following a win over Lee Selby last Halloween in London. The pair of unbeaten lightweights have spent most of their time since then trading harsh words while waiting on several fight dates to exchange punches in the ring. That finally ends this weekend, though doubtful there will be any love lost between them when all is said and done.
“At the end of the day, I look forward to putting on a show as long as I choose to do it, as long as I do it,” vows Lopez. "I give kudos to Kambosos for fighting his way to become my mandatory. Other than that, I don't respect you and... f--- you."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox