Boxing

Delusion Reigns Supreme on Team Teofimo Lopez

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It truly was a stunning upset Saturday night in Madison Square Garden Theater when 13-to-1 underdog George Kambosos defeated unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez via split decision.

But stealing some of the luster from the fandom-energizing night was Team Lopez’s sore loser response and the absolute delusion coming from Teofimo Jr. and his trainer/father Teofimo Sr.

If you listen to Teofimo Sr.’s account of the evening without watching the fight for yourself, you would get the impression that his son was flat-out robbed, in a fight he dominated from start to finish, by a vengeful industry out to silence his son for speaking too many truths to power…and that the MSG Theater crowd was absolutely up in arms over the injustice.

“It was a complete robbery,” Teofimo Sr. told Seconds Out after the shocker. “We dictated the fight from the beginning, aggressively, taking all those points. Everybody in the world knows what happened, everybody’s saying he won 9-3, 10-2, the whole arena saw it and it was just disgusting…Everybody was just upset, they booed the decision in the Madison Square Garden…I could not believe what they just did to us…Everything can be bought, that’s why I teach my boy ‘you gotta take them out.’ If you don’t take them out they could do something to us…You know, I’m saying he was coming up too fast, too strong, making a lot of noise and things happen. Things happen, you know.”

The truth, however, was that most everyone had Kambosos winning the fight, with even the most aggressively Lopez-leaning observers admitting the fight was very close. And the overwhelmingly pro-Lopez New York crowd at the MSG Theater was energized by Kambosos’ effort, only booing after Teofimo Jr. delivered this buzzkill soliloquy during his in-ring, post-fight interview:

“[You’re] a hell of a fighter, but I won tonight. Everyone knows that. The referee raised my hand. I won tonight. I don’t care what anyone says, yo. I won tonight…I ain’t no sore loser. I take my wins like I take my losses. At the end of the day, I’m a true champion. I came out here. I did what I had to do…I don’t care what anyone says, man. I am as real as they come. And, watch, this is the takeover, man. We don’t stop. we keep coming, yo. At the end of the day, man, I love you all. I won this fight.”

Double kudos to Kambosos, by the way, for not only being a hell of a fighter, but also a bit of a diplomat. The Australian battler would write off Lopez’s bad sportsmanship as the byproduct of being concussed.

“I think he was a little bit concussed,” Kambosos told members of the media. “He took some big shots in that fight, so concussed, a little bit delusional…I don’t have to say anything, to be honest. The whole world saw the fight. His own fans in the crowd were booing him. That just shows, you know, the kind of maturity he has…I don’t think there’s a man in the world or woman in the world that believed it was any other way, except for Lopez and Lopez Sr.”

Right now, the world will be knocking on Kambosos’ proverbial door, looking for a shot at his newly-acquired IBF/WBA/WBO world titles. But, where does Teofimo Lopez go from here?

According to his father, he’ll be headed up to 140, where he’ll take a stay-busy fight early next year and then face unified 4-belt junior welterweight champ Josh Taylor later on. Aside from the insider boxing plot to bring down his son for “coming up too fast, too strong, making a lot of noise,” Teofimo Sr. blames Saturday’s loss on his son staying too long at 135 and having to work too hard to make weight.

And therein lies the biggest obstacle to Teofimo Lopez Jr., a naturally gifted fighter with potential generational abilities, getting back on track and fully living up to his potential. A detachment from reality seems to be hardwired into his thinking, programmed into his head by a father who, frankly, doesn’t seem all there and whose between-rounds guidance on Saturday was limited to gems such as “F**k this motherf***ker up already!”

The red flags were waved long before Saturday’s upset, though. Lopez Jr. had been giving oddly grandiose interviews where he mentioned himself in the same breath as legends such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Willie Pep, and Mike Tyson. He lamented over everyone “hating” on him for his accomplishments. He gave a distinct insecure little kid vibe when he brought his belts to the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant fight and rushed on stage, post-fight, to pose with those belts alongside the newly-crowned unified super middleweight champ, Alvarez.

The strange “something’s off” vibe prompted this writer to opine on another site last month that “he’s been giving every appearance of being someone on the precipice of a humbling tumble.”

The road back to a world title and main stage glory is there for Teofimo Lopez. He’s good enough to get back there without too many major changes in his outlook or preparation. Staying there and becoming the long-reigning elite player he aspires to be, however, will require some major soul searching and professional realignment.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com