We’ve got two big main events on Saturday night, with Teofimo Lopez taking on George Kambosos Jr in a lightweight title bout on DAZN, and Brandon Figueroa and Stephen Fulton Jr unifying junior featherweight titles on Showtime.
One fight has the heat and the buzz because the build-up has been so dramatic and theatrical, the other is just a damn good fight between two of the best fighters in their division.
Who wins on Saturday?
Lopez vs Kambosos predictions
- Current Odds: Lopez -1000, Kambosos +600 (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
Scott Christ (58-19)
This is a fight where there is an abnormally high opportunity for the loser to not just lose, but really look bad when you remember all the press conference and — I’m assuming later today — weigh-in bravado. Kambosos in particular has talked an incredibly big game; if he gets sparked out early like the Lopez side are promising, gonna look awful. On the other hand, I think his trash talk has been effective in what he’s going for — it seems like George has aimed mostly to make Lopez emotional. We saw Shawn Porter try to do this, though with a softer approach, with Terence Crawford. Didn’t work out. But Lopez is far more openly emotional than Crawford, so who knows?
On the other side, obviously if Lopez loses it’s going to look horrible for him, because he’s a huge favorite. If Lopez is focused and doesn’t make massive mistakes, I just can’t see him losing this. Kambosos is a good fighter, but I don’t see anything he does better than Teofimo, and he’s not nearly as explosive. Forget the Lopez you saw against Vasiliy Lomachenko, a technical master, or Masayoshi Nakatani, who is tall and awkward and tough as nails. Remember Teofimo against Diego Magdaleno or Edis Tatli? Because that’s closer to the sort of opponent he’s got here, at least on paper. I mean, remember when he blasted the hell out of the really, really good Richard Commey in two? Kambosos has to have the fight of his life and Teofimo has to screw up, either having already done so in preparation or on fight night itself. Lopez KO-5
Wil Esco (62-15)
Wow, it’s really amazing that this fight hasn’t happened already. Obviously this bout has been a long time in the making, but my thoughts on the matchup haven’t changed at all since it was originally announced however many months ago. Teofimo Lopez is going to brutalize George Kambosos, that’s just the truth of the matter. Nothing against Kambosos who I’m sure is a tough and courageous fellow, but here he’ll be walking into a fire he won’t be walking out of. Lopez is a much better fighter than Kambosos, has better athleticism, and much better power, and it won’t be very long before he starts landing big shots on the Aussie. I’d actually be fairly surprised if Kambosos makes it out of the first half of the fight. Lopez TKO-4
Editor’s Note: Wil’s original pick was a TKO-4, but after he saw the press conference, he sent me this note: “Slight adjustment, Teofimo looks pretty pissed off. Make that Lopez TKO-2” — Scott
Patrick L. Stumberg (63-14)
I distinctly remember writing my pick for Lopez-Kambosos before the June date imploded, but I can’t seem to find where I saved it. I choose to blame Lopez.
As a fan of watching convoluted schemes blow up in promoters’ faces, I want nothing more than for Kambosos to demolish Lopez in the most anticlimactic fashion imaginable. There is no more fitting end for this long, wet fart of a saga. Unfortunately, while Kambosos seems to have the right approach, he lacks the tools to execute it properly. Though a very solid aggressor who could hypothetically force Lopez onto the back foot, where “The Takeover” is far less comfortable, I don’t see Kambosos overcoming this level of skill and power with his limited finishing ability.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Kambosos bank some early rounds, but like Richard Commey before him, he can only stay in Lopez’s face for so long before things go pear-shaped. Lopez ends a competitive firefight somewhere around the midpoint. Lopez TKO-5
And the staff winner is...
Teofimo Lopez (3-0)!
Figueroa vs Fulton predictions
- Current Odds: Figueroa +260, Fulton -330 (Odds courtesy DraftKings Sportsbook)
Scott Christ (58-19)
My head absolutely says Fulton; he’s a much better boxer from a technical standpoint and has an excellent jab that he uses as a genuine weapon, not just a range finder or something to flick out. If he can keep this a pure boxing match, he’ll win going away. I’m not sure he can, though. Figueroa has an incredible engine and seems like a guy who just loves to fight.
But I gotta go with my head here, as I think about it. We’ll see how much Figueroa likes a truly difficult fight — not just one that’s competitive or gritty, he got that against a too-heavy Julio Ceja, but a fight where he’s almost certainly going to sincerely struggle with the style Fulton wants to impose. Figueroa might be able to get some rounds and I think he’ll fight his heart out, but I don’t know that he can do the necessary damage to turn what may be a pretty aggressive tide. If Fulton stays locked in for 12, he wins. Fulton UD-12
Wil Esco (62-15)
Stylistically I think this could turn out to be a pretty fun one. Brandon Figueroa doesn’t have any issues with pressing the action and Stephen Fulton thrives off letting his opponents come to him while he times his combinations and counters. I won’t even deny it here, I’m pretty high on ‘Cool Boy’ Steph and think he’s a viable pick for best fighter at 122. Sure, he’s probably got a little more proving to do in that regard, but I certainly think he’s got the skillset even if he’s not the biggest puncher. As far as Brandon Figureoa goes, it’s not that I don’t think he’s a decent fighter, I just don’t think he’s a special one and I fully expect Fulton to expose that on the night. I think Fulton puts on an impressive display of speed and skill to largely dominate Figueroa on the scorecards. Fulton UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg (63-14)
This fight comes down to a simple question: did Fulton slug it out with Angelo Leo because he wanted to, or because he had to?
In terms of overall boxing acumen, Fulton damn near laps Figueroa. He’s faster, sharper, more adept with his footwork, and was skilled enough to hold his own on the inside against a dedicated body puncher. Even with Figueroa’s freakish dimensions, he loses a boxing match to Fulton 10 times out of 10. Thing is, Leo was able to walk Fulton to the ropes with worrying regularity, and though Fulton was able to outmaneuver him in the pocket, Figueroa’s mix of insane volume and thudding power makes him far more of a threat than the feather-fisted “Chinito.”
It’s inevitable that Fulton’s going to boss the first half of the fight. He’s way, way too slick for Figueroa while both men are still fresh. If he lingers on the inside too long, though, Figueroa’s bottomless gas tank will inevitably tilt the scales in his favor. That said, Fulton has so many other weapons, namely that piston jab, that I can’t reasonably expect him to fight in Figueroa’s wheelhouse to the bitter end. He controls the fight at range and holds his own in the slugfests, turning aside a late surge to claim a comfortable decision. Fulton UD-12