Newly crowned unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. revealed he intentionally baited Teofimo Lopez into an emotional fight on his way to a thrilling world title win.
Australia’s Kambosos pulled off a stunning split decision victory over the heavily favored Lopez in New York on Saturday.
Lopez flew out of the blocks in the opening round, looking to make good on his promise to hand Kambosos an early knockout defeat, but it was the Aussie who landed a fight-changing knockdown in the first frame.
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Speaking on Sunday, Kambosos said the antagonistic actions he and his team employed in the lead-up were all part of the plan.
“We knew he was going to come out firing and that was a lot of the psychological games, to get him upset, get him angry and I knew he would come crazy and I just stayed calm, stayed composed, caught his shots, took a couple but knew that the power wasn’t going to faze me,” Kambosos told Matchroom.
“I knew he made that mistake when he stepped in a little bit too heavy and I lined him up with a beautiful right hand and caught him clean, put him down and the fight changed.”
After taking the first round, Kambosos appeared to have the edge through the early and middle stages of the fight, but Lopez rallied to make a contest of it before landing a knockdown of his own in the 10th round.
Lopez swarmed in an attempt to end the fight but Kambosos got to the bell, before coming out strongly in the final two rounds to seal the victory.
“It was more a flash knockdown,” Kambosos said of the Round 10 moment.
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“I think I got a little bit too excited with the crowd and I sensed that I was about to run him over and really put him to the sword. That’s a good learning curve too. I got a little emotional at that stage.
“I think when he put me down in the 10th and tried to finish me off and I got up and was still throwing punches and still there I think that psychologically destroyed him.
“He thought, ‘This guy ain’t going. What is he made of?’ I knew that would have deflated him so I came out and Rround 11 was probably my best round and Round 12 closed the show.”
The fight improved Kambosos’ record to 20-0, while Lopez (16-1) tasted defeat for the first time in his career.
In the ring immediately following the decision, Lopez said he felt he won the bout 10 rounds to two.
“I don’t need to respond to that, it’s delusional,” Kambosos said.
“He’ll look back at it and think, ‘I was wrong there’ because he lost a lot of fans from doing that.”
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As for what’s next for Australia’s first unified champ since Kostya Tszyu, Kambosos plans on dropping in at the Devin Haney-JoJo Diaz fight in Las Vegas next week ahead of a possible undisputed bout on home soil next year.
“One hundred percent, but that’s got to be in Australia,” he said.
“I have taken the hard road, I have been in the trenches overseas, I’ve got everything now. If they want a shot, they’ve got to come see me.”