George Kambosos Jr is the toast of the boxing world after his upset win over Teofimo Lopez on Saturday, where he out-pointed the heavily-favored ex-titlist to win the WBA, IBF, and WBO lightweight straps in New York.
Kambosos (20-0, 10 KO) sat down with FightHub TV’s Marcos Villegas the day after the huge win to discuss the fight itself, his thoughts on Lopez’s post-fight behavior, and what might come next for him as he looks to keep big fights rolling.
On how he feels after the big win
“It’s been a very long journey. It feels good, because the hard years and really having to earn it in the backyards, to have it all pay off and collect everything, it feels good. But there’s more to go now. The vision goes to the next level. I’d train today if I could!”
“It’s a great moment to finally — that dream that I’ve had for many years, from a young kid, to achieve it is very nice. ... I’m the kind of fighter that’s, like, ‘What’s next? What’s the next challenge?’ What can we do bigger than this now? That’s the kind of fighter I am. It’s good, I think I’ll enjoy it for a couple of days and then we’ll focus on what’s next.”
“I’m sure there’s more things to do. I’ll bring a big fight to Australia (for) 80,000 people. I think that will top it, defending the belts.”
On how he felt about his performance
“I’m extremely happy. The game plan was perfect, caught him beautiful in the first round. That was the plan, and I said it, like the great Cus D’Amato said, he told Muhammad Ali when he fought Joe Frazier, ‘Hit him with your best right hand. Make him respect you.’ That’s what I did. I knew he’d come out firing, I knew he’d try to land the big shots. That just drew him in the way we wanted it — boom, put him down, and the fight totally changed.
“I dissected him in every single round. I am upset at myself for round 10, because I went away from my game plan. I got a little bit too excited. The fans were going off and I wanted to really give the fans that extra bit and I got a little bit silly. But it just makes the fight even better, the stories even better. Because a lot of fighters would have stayed down, would have said, ‘You know what, I put him down, I was winning the fight, but I got caught.’ I got up, I finished the round hard, and came out round 11 for probably my best round of the fight, and round 12, closed the show.
“It shows, when it came to the championship rounds, my conditioning, how supreme it was. There will be things we gotta to sit down as a team and have a look at. I’m sure there’s a few flaws where we have to get better and better, but we’ll watch it, and I’ll bring my notepad out and I’ll start writing and go back and, you know, get even better. That’s what it is.”
On his boxing skills being underrated
“I don’t know what that thing is where they think I’m just an aggressive kind of brawler that comes in head-first, but we just went with it, we said, ‘No problem, let them believe that, let them think that. But we will shock them.’ War is deception, and when you don’t study your opponent you’re about to go to war with, then you find out real quick if you’re not fully prepared. We were fully prepared for whatever Lopez brought to the table. We studied him day in, day out, and executed the game plan very well.
“My timing, my speed, my precision, my power — they said I couldn’t punch. I can punch. Look at his face. I busted him up, put him down, hurt him multiple times. My conditioning, my stamina. The way I was in and out, volume punching — frustrate him, get out of there, frustrate him, boom, land the shots. That just shows the elite fighter I am. This guy was, what, No. 7 or 6 pound-for pound, 2020 Fighter of the Year? Where does that put me? I believe the fight, to be honest, wasn’t even close. I figure I’ll get my respect now.”
On whether Lopez was what he expected
“Look, I really wanted to feel the power and see what the hype was about, but — no disrespect to him, but yeah, he caught me in that round because I made a mistake, but the power was nothing special. I’ve been in there with welterweights and junior middleweights, and they can’t believe how hard I hit, and I take their shots no problem. Sparring with Manny Pacquiao, that as well. Guys like Jose Ramirez, Ray Beltran, Sergey Lipinets, Lenny Zappavigna — all these guys, they can’t believe what I do. It was a very good win and there was nothing really that surprised me. I knew the way he was going to fight, we stuck to the game plan and won the fight.”
On whether or not he was hurt in round 10
“I lost my composure for that split second where I got a little bit too excited. I was landing shots and I could just feel him breaking bit by bit, every shot I was throwing. He was gassing and (I thought), ‘I can get rid of this guy.’ But I went away a little bit from my jab and that was what was setting everything up. That split second, he caught me. It was just a flash knockdown, I was more angry at myself. I got up, finished the round like a true champion.
“I remember going to the corner, I said, ‘Alright, now I’m going to punish him for the next two rounds. Now, because you put me down for the first time in my career’ — it was my mistake, not that he did anything special. It was my mistake. And I’m going to punish you, and that’s what I did. I think I came out round 11, probably my best round of the fight barring the knockdown in round one, then round 12 closed the show, another great round.
“I think that knockdown, too, just made the fight even better. Showed more heart and what I bring to the table. A real warrior. A lot of fighters probably would not have got up.”
On Lopez’s first round blitz
“I knew he would come hard. Just catch, catch, catch, move. You obviously land a couple, OK, I feel what you’re throwing, nothing special, and I’m going to time you now. As he made the wrong mistake and stepped too close, boom, over the top. Beautiful right hand. And just before the bell when I came flying in with another beautiful right hand and kind of slipped, that landed flush. Man, if I set a little bit more, I could have put him to sleep right there and got the first round knockout. But the fight was the way it was meant to be, and karma’s a bitch.”
On the score cards and whether he thought it was close
“I didn’t believe the fight was close, but I was again worried with the judges. I’m in his hometown. My last two fights before that in (opponents’) hometowns, I had split decisions, so it was only right I had another split decision. I was sure one of the judges was going to go his way. But I did obviously believe they would give the right person the decision, which was me. I didn’t even think it was close, to be honest. I thought 9-3, possibly 10-2, and them two rounds were my mistake, not that he did anything special. If I stayed a little bit more composed, it could have been a full shutout. That shows — this was the 2020 Fighter of the Year, what am I?”
On Lopez’s post-fight comments
“Yeah, there’s no real comment there. The world saw what happened. The boxing world, the media, the reporters. His own fans were booing him. I came in and was getting booed when I stepped inside them ropes, and by the end they were applauding me and booing him, because it’s just delusion. Like I said, you’re delusional, brother. Move up the weight, whatever it is. It is what it is. It doesn’t bother me.
“He’ll look back on the tape, he’ll look at the video and say, ‘Well, I did get busted up, I should not have said what I said,’ because he lost a lot more fans instead of being humble and showing the respect that we both deserved in that fight. We went to war for the fans, and this fight took so long to happen, it’s only right that we gave an action fight like that, a Fight of the Year candidate if not Fight of the Year.”
On whether or not he spoke with Lopez after
“Nah, we didn’t (talk). We said we were going to not shake hands, but after 12 rounds like that, we shook hands. I told him I never disrespect anybody, but he had this story in his head that I disrespected his mother, but that was never the case. I would never disrespect anyone’s mother. It is what it is, if that’s what was mentally getting him up, I knew the truth and what I had to do. That’s where it was and where it ends. There is nothing else. We’ll see if we bump into each other and what he does next, but for now I’m the champ, I’ve got all the belts, and I’m here right now.”
On what he’ll do next
“We’ll be chasing the best guys. We don’t want to duck or dodge anybody. But they do have to come to Australia. That’s the difference now, because I’ve earned that. I’ve earned my stripes, to take these (belts) back home and do it in front of an 80,000-seat stadium in Sydney or Melbourne. I’ll fight whoever, but you gotta come see me, ‘The Emperor.’”
On whether he’d rematch Teofimo
“Yeah, if it makes sense, but I don’t know if he would want to do that after that. I don’t know what he’s gonna do now. I think he needs a lot of time, a lot of rest. Let’s hope that mentally — because I know he has had a few issues — that he doesn’t throw the towel in. I told him, go enjoy time with your son, forget all this. ... This comes and goes, but our kids will be with us forever. We’ll see what he does.”
On Devin Haney possibly being next
“We both said handle business and we’ll meet, so 100 percent, I love that fight. I think it’s a great fight. Let’s see if he handles the business, which I’m sure he will. That is a good fight against JoJo Diaz, too, no disrespect there. We’ll see, I’ll probably be there. If (Haney) does the business, we’ll do it in Australia in front of 80,000 people, early 2022.”
On inheriting the WBC’s mess as regards to “undisputed” claim at 135
“I’m sick of the whole undisputed, unified, undisputed — I don’t care. I don’t care! I’ve got all the belts. ... It is what it is. If the fans think it’s undisputed, think it’s unified, I don’t really care. I’m just taking heads one-by-one, this is fun for me.”
On everyone calling him out and congratulating him
“The hunter becomes the hunted! ... The way people were calling me out, it was a respectful way. They respected what I did last night, I took out the top guy. It wasn’t like some stupid call-out, they respected it. I’ll find the right guy. The Devin Haney is probably the (best) fight for me, that’s the fight I love. We’ll see what happens.”
On how a Kambosos-Haney fight plays out
“I’m too fast, too sharp, too strong. But he’s got business to handle first. I want to see what he does with JoJo Diaz, and then we’ll make the right decision. I don’t duck or dodge anyone. Look at my track record, I’ve fought these guys in their backyards, but this has got to be in Australia.”
On how long he’ll stay at 135
“To be honest, I could probably go down to 130. I might go down there and unify the belts there! I’ve got the kind of build that can go from 130/135 to 140 very easily. When I’ve got that speed and explosive power and the footwork in and out, I’m a lot like Manny Pacquiao. That speed and the way I was throwing my punches in bunches and getting in and out, you can go up multiple divisions and still be very successful. 135 is where I’m good right now. I’ve got the belts, I’m the top dog. We’ll see what’s next.”