By: Sean Crose
Saturday was a great night of boxing, one of those nights that makes you happy you’re a fan of the sweet science despite all the garbage that tends to be tossed around the sport. For Australia’s George Kambosos and American Stephen Fulton defied the odds, fought their hearts out, surprised a whole lot of people, and emerged victorious in battles they were presumed beforehand to lose. Kambosos took New York City by storm, becoming the light heavyweight king of the hill by besting young gun Teofimo Lopez in impressive and gutsy fashion at the theater in Madison Square Garden.
A short time later, across the vast expanse of the United States, Fulton won a razor tight decision over Brandon Figueroa after 12 brilliant rounds of action at Las Vegas’ Park Theater. Fulton also walked away with the WBC super bantamweight belt alongside his own WBO title. Figueroa, like Lopez, was a champion no more. At least for the time being. These were two talented men, after all, both of whom had clearly battled long and hard that evening. Mistakes were made, true (especially, it seemed, on the part of Lopez), but boxing has told a thousand tales of smashing returns after failed performances.
Neither Lopez nor Figueroa saw things in a reflective way, however. In fact, each man thought he had won his respective match. Fair enough. Fighters who have just emerged from the thick of things often feel they’ve been short changed by the judges. What made the events of Saturday night squeamish on both costs, though, was the fact both Lopez and Figueroa made it a point to come across like poor losers. Rather than showing their bitterness when the microphones were in their faces, as Marvin Hagler did after his controversial loss to Ray Leonard, the men who lost Saturday’s main events essentially stole the mic, and the moment, from those who had officially bested them.
Both Lopez and Figueroa aggressively claimed they had really won their bouts…in a manner that made it seem their words should have been obvious to everyone. They also treated the post fight interviews with the winners as if they were merely sham proceedings. In short, these men didn’t respect their opponents enough to let them have their moments in the spotlight. Call it old fashioned, but such behavior should be considered unacceptable. So Lopez and Figueroa felt they were robbed. Guess what? Kambosos and Fulton didn’t. And they had a right to speak at that moment, especially since the powers that be, as well as considerable numbers of viewers online, happened to agree with them. It’s been suggested that Lopez may have had some emotional baggage walking into his match with Kambosos. That may well be true and deserving of sympathy – but all of us have to be reminded when we’ve given off a bad look. Hopefully the people closest to Lopez and Figueroa will remind both men of how fighters are supposed to act – in victory, as well as in defeat.