After a satisfying weekend headlined by Terence Crawford’s TKO of Shawn Porter, the boxing world looks ahead to the next major event: Saturday’s long-awaited lightweight showdown between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr.
As is their custom, Scott and the gang have put up the velvet rope and sequestered themselves in the VIP Employee Lounge to deliberate the official Bad Left Hook staff picks for the fight. Odds are, the company’s weekly catering and “entertainment” budget will be exhausted by Friday. Shortly thereafter, they’ll emerge with a likely unanimous verdict, and the official company prediction will be some variation of a Teofimo Lopez victory.
Logically, it’s a very reasonable prediction. Instinctively, most observers of the sport will feel that’s the probable result. But, some fights you can’t pick with your head, or with your gut. Sometimes, you have to pick ‘em with your heart. And my heart, like the heart of every good and decent person, is with George Kambosos Jr.
Kambosos is fighting for a nation. For a culture. For history. The last (and only, as far as I’m aware) Greek boxer to hold a world level belt was Antonis Christoforidis. If you don’t recognize that name, it doesn’t necessarily make you a filthy casual. Christoforidis goes back so far, he was technically born a citizen of the Ottoman Empire. Greeks invented boxing as a structured, Olympic-style sport. But, it’s been a long time since they’ve been champions of it.
Kambosos is going out there on Saturday to reclaim the sports heritage and glory of Greece. He’s not just fighting Teofimo Lopez. He’s fighting against everyone that’s ever pronounced the word “gyro” with a “J” sound. Against anyone that’s ever put a pile of romaine lettuce on a plate and called it a Greek salad. And, to answer what most readers are asking themselves right now: YES. Those are cultural atrocities. Hate crimes on par with the tomahawk chop and the choco taco.
We’ve seen this sort of upset before. Greeks won Euro 2004 despite coming in as 150-1 underdogs. Greeks beat Team USA Basketball in 2006, back before Team USA Basketball losing became a semi-regular thing.
Sure, Teofimo Lopez is young and talented. But, is he better at boxing than LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, and the rest of that gang were at basketball 15 years ago?
Admittedly, this is not coming from a proper analytical perspective, but rather a bone-deep need to see Kambosos win. So, how do we get to that outcome? Well, Lopez has spent the past few months looking past this matchup. He’s spent more time fighting online with his promoter or potential future opponents than he has focused on the man straight in front of him.
You can dismiss the potential post-COVID issues we’ve seen other fighters suffer. You can overlook the fact that Lopez may have already outgrown the weight class, and has been openly speculating about moving up a division. One thing that can’t be questioned, if you’ve been listening to the man talk, is that Lopez comes into this matchup expecting easy work.
I don’t think he’ll get it. You can say what you will about the obvious talent of Lopez, and the relatively limited gifts of Kambosos. But, almost everyone agrees Kambosos is a tough SOB who’ll stand in and fight. If a stoppage doesn’t come quick or easy, Lopez will take risks he never did against Lomachenko because of the respect he had for Loma’s skills.
Buster Douglas. Corrie Sanders. Randy Turpin. Andy Ruiz, if your memory is short. Or, if you want to go way, way back? Apollo over Ares. The invincible and inevitable have been known to make inconceivable and ignominious history, particularly when they think they can look past a tenacious and motivated adversary.
It’s been that sort of year in boxing. Anthony Joshua, Mikey Garcia, Josh Warrington, Kenshiro Teraji, “Bek the Bully” Melikuziev, Kid Galahad… Every few weeks, we’ve seen a stunner of an upset. There’s still time this year for at least one more.
For the gamblers in our audience: If you want to put a safe $100 down? Go ahead, bet on Lopez. It’s very likely you’ll win yourself almost enough money for a medium sized combo meal at the fast food restaurant of your choice. But you know that won’t satisfy you in any material way.
You can, however, choose to believe in something beautiful instead. Take $10, risk it the other direction, and get yourself pulling an emotional oar for a righteous cause.
Πόλεμος Γεώργιος. Kambosos by 8th round knockout.