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George Kambosos Jr. credits ‘mental games’ in winning formula against Teofimo Lopez: ‘I broke him down’

George Kambosos Jr. may have shocked the boxing world when he upset Teofimo Lopez as an 8-to-1 betting underdog on Saturday, but he didn’t shock himself.

Kambosos Jr., the unbeaten 28-year-old who defeated Lopez via split decision to capture three of boxing’s major lightweight titles, explained on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour that he already knew he’d bested Lopez long before the two even stepped in the ring.

“My presence and what I did in that fight and that game plan, and the mental games I played and psychologically breaking him down months and months ago — I believe I broke him down when we had that press conference [in April], originally on the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren fight,” Kambosos Jr. revealed on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “The way I brought myself to that fight and what I’d done in the rounds, and especially scoring that beautiful knockdown, which I said I would — I said I’d catch him early; if I don’t put him to sleep early, I will catch him and hurt him — that’s what changed the fight.

“I believe he was concussed through that fight, that’s what changes a fight. Not what Lopez didn’t do. It’s what I did throughout them rounds. And I broke him down. I could fight him every single day, twice on Sunday, and he would not beat me. I would beat him every time, and it’s just going to get worse and worse, but I know he wants nothing to do with me now.”

Kambosos Jr. (20-0, 10 KOs) and Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) first came together nose-to-nose at a pre-fight press conference in April, the day before Triller’s Paul vs. Askren boxing event. That was long before a slew of unsuccessful negotiation efforts on Triller’s part led to the bout’s rights being handed over to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport promotions, and Kambosos Jr. revealed Monday that he left that first press event knowing his foe was exactly where he wanted him after Lopez’s previous big win over Vasiliy Lomachenko.

“Look, I just say it the way it is, right?” Kambosos Jr. said. “I chip away at certain things. I spoke about his weight issues to make the weight, his sacrifice and dedication to the sport. I felt like he was enjoying it too much, enjoying the bright lights, and that rattled him, that got under his skin. But the most important thing is when we faced off and went eye-to-eye, that’s when you really see what a man is made of.

“When I looked inside his eyes, I saw that he was soulless and there was fear there. And when he looked inside my eyes, he saw that, ‘This Kambosos from Australia who shouldn’t be here, who should be taken out in a rout, is actually here to fight, has got no fear. He’s coming to take everything off me.’ And I think that stuck with him for a very long time, and it went the way it was meant to be.”

Still, the fight itself wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. After knocking down Lopez with a counter right in the opening round, Kambosos Jr. had to survive a scare of own when his desperate foe returned the favor by dropping Kambosos Jr. with a nasty right hand in Round 10. But Kambosos Jr. showed the heart of a champion — and showed why he was a frequent sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao’s during the Hall of Famer’s own championship career.

“It was my mistake,” Kambosos Jr. said. “I was actually angrier at myself when I came back in Round 11 in the corner. I made the mistake, I got a little bit carried away. It took a long time for this fight to happen, so I wanted to give the crowd and the fans their money’s worth, so I lost my composure and he caught me with a good shot, but like a true champion, I got up, I shook it off. That was at a 1:45 to go against a big puncher that they say in Lopez, and not only I came back, but I finished that round strong.

“I went to the corner, I told my team and my cornermen that I’m good. That — you know what? — I made the mistake, he didn’t do anything special, and now I’m going to punish him for the next two rounds. And that’s what I did. That Round 11 was probably my best round of the fight, and Round 12 I closed the show and won that round as well.”

Kambosos Jr. said he was confident in the decision by the bout’s end. He also isn’t worried about whether others are now unhappy with the split decision being awarded in his favor.

“They made the right decision and the world is happy,” Kambosos Jr. said. “The only three people that saw it any different is Lopez, Lopez Sr., and the other judge that scored it his way.”

As for what’s next, Kambosos Jr. now holds all of the cards.

The native Australian is the WBA, IBF, WBO, and The Ring lightweight champion, and marquee bouts likely lie ahead against any number of big-name opponents, from Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia to Gervonta Davis and Lomachenko. Kambosos Jr. said he is open to any and all of them, but with one requirement: After invading enemy territory numerous times in his last few bouts, the new champion’s next fight has to be in his homeland.

“One-hundred percent,” Kambosos Jr. said. “I’ve had to really go into the trenches, the backyards. Now this is two former world champions and an undisputed champion, all in their backyard, in my last three fights. And time after time, proving the world wrong. Being the underdog in all of them fights, but still standing.

“I haven’t fought in Australia since 2017. It’s truly my time to go back home, fill out a stadium of 80,000 people, and bring something back special to Australia, defend all my belts, all these beautiful belts. Because again, they’re my belts, but they are Australia’s belts as well, and they deserve this as much as I have them.”