The enormity of what he has achieved hasn’t yet sunk in for George Kambosos jnr.
Having become the unified champion after taking the WBA, IBF and WBO and belts – as well as The Ring magazine lineal championship belt and the WBC franchise strap – from brash American Teofimo Lopez, you would expect a celebration befitting the occasion. Yet champagne corks weren’t popped.
The hours immediately after etching himself into Australian sporting folklore at New York’s Madison Square Garden couldn’t have been any less glamorous.
Kambosos Jr becomes unified champ
Australia’s George Kambosos Jr earned the title of the unified lightweight world champion after a shock win over Teofimo Lopez.
“I was stuck in the hospital,” Kambosos told the Herald and The Age on Monday. “In the hospital, they don’t care if you’re the undisputed champion or whoever you are, you have to wait your turn. There are emergencies that come in and they take your place.
“I was in there for three or four hours before I finally got to the hotel. I had a nice burger, went upstairs and tried to get some sleep.
“I knew I was going to do this and there really hasn’t been much celebration.”
Stitches above the left eyebrow and an eye check were mundane boxing wash-up but what Kambosos did in the hours prior is unprecedented.
No other Australian – not even hall-of-famers Kostya Tszyu and Jeff Fenech – has won three world-title belts in the one bout. Their legendary trainer, Johnny Lewis, rang Kambosos to tell him he is now among our greatest pugilists, just as the new champion was having his eyebrow stitched.
“I’ve achieved something massive here,” he said.Advertisement
“I’m the greatest fighter in Australian history already. I’ve achieved the biggest win in Australian history with all of these belts.
“There is more to do, there are other belts and other divisions. I’ve got to take out these other guys now.
“I’m the one being hunted now. I’m not the hunter any more. I’ve got a lot of motivation, a lot of inspiration. I’m very stubborn, if they think they’re going to take these belts off me, they’ve got another thing coming.”
The split-decision win over Lopez, and the spoils that come with it, are the result of a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. Kambosos puts himself through three workout sessions every day and even wanted to get back into the gym on Tuesday before his team intervened by locking it up.
“Sometimes I put the sweat suit on and run 10km in the stinking heat, just to keep that hunger, that mindset,” he said.
“I never want to cut a corner, I never will. I’ll continue with these belts to push myself to the limit.”
The victory, which appeared to shock everyone but himself, was one Kambosos had pictured many times. The 28-year-old Sydneysider said he felt the presence of his late grandfather – who passed away on the same day he welcomed the birth of his third child, on August 24 – just moments before creating history.
“I felt him there, the spirit was there,” he said.
“We were in the dressingroom and we had the Greek flag. The Greek flag fell down out of nowhere when the cameras were on us.
“I felt like someone touched me on my shoulder. I looked at my dad and said ‘He’s here. I’m going to win this fight’.
“It was a good moment.”
For all of his achievements, Kambosos jnr hasn’t received the coverage given to some of his boxing compatriots. Perhaps it’s because he seldom fights in Australia, although he has promised his titles will be defended on home soil. His preferred opponent is WBC champion Devin Haney, who holds the only belt the man dubbed ‘Ferocious’ is yet to collect.
“I want to come back home and fill out a stadium,” he said.
“I felt like someone touched me on my shoulder. I looked at my dad and said ‘He’s here. I’m going to win this fight’.”
“All those belts, 80,000 people, in Sydney or Melbourne. That’s the next step now.
“Devin Haney fights this week coming, I will be there. We will see if we can get that across the line, that might happen.”
Already, plans are being made to honour Kambosos’ achievements.
“We’ll see if there’s ticker tapes,” Kambosos said. “I’ve been told they are going to do a bronze statue now.
“I’ve got some good friends high up in business and I’m friends with some politicians. They have already started the talks and it’s up to them to make it happen. That would be cool. As long as no one graffitis it or I will be on them.
“That’s what happens when you work so hard and put everything into it, day in and day out.”
Lopez was ungracious in defeat, claiming he won of the 12 rounds despite being clearly outpointed.
“I think he was severely concussed,” Kambosos said. “Rumour has it he’s still in hospital at the moment. I landed some brutal shots, some hard shots. It was just constant bang – temple shots, jaw shots, nose, body, everything. I continually busted him up.
“It shows that you can be the strongest-looking guy, everyone can say he will be too big and too strong, but that’s the size of my heart.
“His own people booed him. They booed me when I first walked in there when I went in and stood at the end of the apron.
“I looked at them all and said in my head ‘you will applaud me by the end of the fight.’
“When I stood on the ropes bleeding and bruised, they all applauded me and got on their feet.
“Then he went out and said all of that stupid stuff. The fight wasn’t even close, I beat him nine rounds to three. They booed him and the whole world saw the fight.”