Teofimo Lopez tells me he is ending George Kambosos fight in one round

2 weeks ago | 95

Teofimo Lopez defends his IBF, WBO, WBA (Super) and Ring magazine titles this weekend

WE are about to start a huge run of fight nights to close out the year - starting this weekend with the unified world lightweight championship between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos.

Next weekend, Devin Haney defends his WBC lightweight crown against JoJo Diaz in Las Vegas - and the week after that brings a big double header in Liverpool, with Conor Benn taking on former world champion Chris Algieri, and Katie Taylor also in action. We then finish up in Manchester for the huge heavyweight rematch between Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker.

I'll admit this week is unique for me. This is a major lightweight clash, but for the first time I can remember, I don't represent any of the fighters in the main event. This was a mandatory fight in which we beat Lopez's promoter, Top Rank, to the punch to secure the purse bid. Initially we lost the purse bid to Triller, but after a ruling by the IBF, we have now been awarded the fight.

I've got to say, Lopez is a joy to work with. Although he's not our fighter, he couldn't do more on the promotional front. And let's be honest, after his win against the pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko last year, this kid really is one of the biggest stars in the sport.

That's why when the purse bid came up, it was an opportunity I couldn't let pass us by. Lopez's profile is only going to get bigger and it was a major coup for us to bring him to the DAZN platform.

'Four princes of lightweight division'

Right now we're at an interesting moment in what is unquestionably the most exciting division in boxing, the lightweight division.

People keep comparing Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis and Lopez to the four kings of old - Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. But let's be honest, right now they're more like princes. In order to create an era that people will talk about over many decades, they have to consistently fight each other over a period of time.

When you look at that great era, those guys would fight each other multiple times and that's what made it so great. We sit in a moment where we could have the mix of Lopez against Haney, Davis against Haney, Davis against Garcia, Lopez against Garcia, Davis against Lopez, Garcia against Haney - and they could all fight each other over the next few years.

We've already got a handshake with Lopez's dad that if he's successful in getting through against Kambosos, and Haney then beats Diaz next week, then that's the fight we'll look to make in spring 2022.

Speaking of the dad, he's a real character. I guess he's like Marmite to most people, but you can't deny he's gold dust for the build-up. On Tuesday, it kicked off at the media workout between Lopez Sr and Kambosos' dad.

This fight's been brewing for a long time and there's plenty of frustration, with both sides blaming each other, as well as the former rights holder Triller, as to why this fight didn't happen. But when they step through the ropes at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, it will just be Lopez and Kambosos.

'Haney will come out on top'

Maybe I'm biased but I do feel that Haney is the best lightweight in the world. One thing you can't deny, though, is that of the four princes of the division, Lopez is the one with the big victory on his record. The others are still looking for that showcase victory, but I do believe Haney will come out on top in the end.

This weekend's fight between Lopez and Kambosos is really interesting when you look at the resumes. Lopez has that stand-out victory against Lomachenko while Kambosos' greatest win was against Lee Selby in their final eliminator last year.

One thing that's worth remembering, though, is the time these guys have had out the ring. We've seen it lots of times during the pandemic where fighters have been inactive and it's really hurt them when they step through the ropes.

Lopez is also a huge lightweight and you have to ask: How much longer can he make 135lbs?

Kambosos is so fired up, this is his moment. He could walk into the party and steal all those belts, and he's got a steely look in his eye. But Lopez pulled me to one side at a recent media day in Las Vegas and told me he's ending this fight in the opening round. I hope not, because I paid a lot of money for this one!

Complacency is always dangerous in any walk of life but especially in boxing. How many times do you see people looking at future fights, talking about becoming undisputed, talking about mega-fights, only to take their eye off the current job and come unstuck?

And that's a danger for Lopez. He's so confident going into this fight but all he's talking about is the Haney fight next year. For Kambosos, there's only one thing on his mind.

Whatever way it goes, it's going be full of excitement on Saturday. Look out as well for a great co-main event - the vacant IBF world super-featherweight title contest between South African Azinga Fuzile and Japan's Kenichi Ogawa. This is particularly interesting in a division rich with champions such as Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez. But it's particularly exciting for Britons Joe Cordina and Zelfa Barrett - who I'll be looking to put the winner in with in the early part of 2022.

Fury v Whyte will happen

There's been plenty of talk about Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte facing off early next year. But right now the arbitration and legal case continues between Whyte and the WBC. And although some say it's holding things up, ultimately it's in place to ensure that Whyte gets what he deserves.

Nobody can deny that Whyte deserves a world-title shot more than anyone in boxing. I hope the arbitration proceedings will come to a close in due course, and the fight will be officially ordered.

Right now, Whyte is a mandatory challenger to Fury and we hope to get an official ruling soon. Not only that, but we hope for a fair split considering how long Whyte has had to wait.

It's a great fight - two Britons facing off for the world championship as Anthony Joshua prepares for his rematch against Oleksandr Usyk around the same time. The heavyweight landscape looks set to get even hotter in 2022.

BBC Sport

- Nov. 25, 2021 @ 13:18 GMT |

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