There’s been a lot of talk about Greek-Australian lightweight George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos Jr (19-0) recently, namely due to his upcoming fight against undefeated unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez.
The fight has been postponed numerous times, marred by hosting rights debacles and a positive COVID-19 case, but now, after six postponements, the date has been set for 27 November at the Hulu Theatre in New York.
“It’s a big industry and there’s a lot of sharks and snakes and chameleons in this sport where they change their skin and colour real quick to benefit themselves, but I’ve got a good team around me. I got my father, my co-manager Jim Kambosos, who makes sure that no one rips us off or stuffs us around…Ultimately it’s my business and I’ve got to make sure that that no one rips me off,” he told Neos Kosmos.
Although Kambosos has held the IBF Pan Pacific lightweight title since 2017, he is well aware of the challenge that faces him next month in the United States.
“It’s very hard to pinpoint the challenge even with this fight. I’m a big underdog. I’m a six to one underdog. I know how well I’ve prepared. I know how hard I’ve trained and how much it means to me and the motivation and inspiration I have to win this fight,” he said.
The fight against Lopez comes during a climate of ‘celebrity and social media star’ boxing cards. The biggest criticism of these fights is the perceived lack of seriousness of those entering the ring and that the prestigious sport has become more of a celebrity spectacle than the endurance of star athletes.
“It’s its own thing. The hardcore boxing fans, the sporting fans don’t like it. Obviously I don’t focus on it too much. I know it does bring some different eyes onto the support, but then again it does diminish how great our sport is when you’re letting guys come in and make you so much money and having these gimmick kind of fights,” Kambosos said.
“But again, it takes a lot of guts to get in the ring, so I applaud them, but it’s a different level. When you compare these guys coming in, these YouTubers or these celebrities to elite fighters like myself, it’s a totally different level. You can’t even compare the two.”
In either situation, the big pay days that do come from these huge boxing matches are credit to the fans, who Kambosos has always been vocal about his appreciation for.
“I never deny anyone a photo, I never deny anyone a chat because at the end of the day the fans are the ones that make the sport so great. Without the fans, what are we fighting for? The fans want to come and watch us and support us. You take everything like a public professional and you want to be a people champ and that’s the way I look at it,” he said.
Perhaps his high regard for fans of his sport comes from his own ability to stay level headed and humble. Kambosos prides himself on his focus on what he feels is most important in life; his family. With his wife and three young children behind him, there’s no need for any more motivation for being at the top of his game.
“I just keep my focus on what I’m trying to achieve and the legacy I’m trying to achieve. I know how hard this journey has been, when I was fighting for very small amounts of money and little recognition, but I was chipping away to get to today where I have a lot of recognition and I’ve got a lot of fans and support and obviously you know we’re talking about the payday of a few million. In the end that money is for my kids to put a roof over their heads and to be able to give them the best schooling and the best life,” Kambosos explained.
“I know that if I get stuck in the bright lights and I forget where I come from, I can easily fall back there and I can easily be on a downward slope and lose fights and all of a sudden I’m back to square one fighting on small shows for very little money.”
Kambosos is well aware of how children can change the course of one’s life. He’s already felt the impact himself at just 28 years of age. While there is the very real risk of facing the ugly side within the ring, Kambosos hopes that one day they can understand the value of determination and hard work.
“My daughter being the oldest at four she’s trying to really understand what I do. My son, you know, I’m getting worried about him because he loves boxing. He’s always asking if I’m going to the boxing gym or if I’m training at home. He’s always asking questions about boxing and he’s always grabbing the gloves and he wants to punch and practise,” he said.
“They do understand and have an idea of what I’m doing and what dad’s work is. But the full risks that are involved with boxing and knowing the level I’m at is not grasped yet but they will one day, one day they’re going to be able to look back and say ‘wow, there’s my dad and what he achieved’.”
Now Kambosos is counting down the days to when he can potentially add another “beautiful belt” to his collection. Despite the delays and missing precious time with family, the boxer is feeling better than ever and has not let the disappointment of rescheduling get the better of him.
“It was crazy. I’ve been to the US so many times but this was a tough one because I was in camp for four months over there. Preparation was fantastic, even preparation right now is unbelievable. I feel better than ever…”For it to fall over with him [Lopez] getting COVID was a very bitter pill to swallow. But my tunnel vision came in. I was very disappointed at the start but it took me a couple of hours and I went back into the gym and at the end of the day, no one’s going to remember how long it took. They’re going to remember who won this fight,” Kambosos said.
“It’s taken a very long time to get to this position so I’ve stayed patient, I’ll continue that focus that is unbreakable. If that couldn’t break me then what’s going break me? I had the birth of my third kid and the passing of my grandfather on the same day, and I literally went and trained at night so if that there is not going break me, no one is going to. This kid [Lopez] isn’t going to break me.”
Kambosos’ perception of his upcoming opponent is no secret, pinning him as disingenuous and dazzled by the fame and for that, the boxer plans to bring Lopez down a few pegs.
“You can just see the way he acts the way he talks. I find him very fake, where he says one thing and he tries to be really religious, but then he flips the script and says other things that you know would go against that. His whole charisma is fake. Once a real one stands to him, and like I did in that press conference and I stared into his soul, I really saw exactly what he’s about,” he said.
“I just stay focused on what I’ve got to do and his little celebrity act and the limelight he has now is going to end very soon and he’ll be down the bottom again trying to get back up. The boxing world forgets you very fast.”
Ultimately, as enticing as humbling Lopez might be for Kambosos, the purpose of his boxing career, beyond providing for his family, is to ensure his family name is honoured for years to come. With his “Spartan warrior blood” and the “ANZAC fighting spirit” in his soul, Kambosos would make any Greek-Australian proud with his achievements.
“I want the George Kambosos name to have honour. We talked about the passing of my grandfather who was George Kambosos as well. I go visit him at the cemetery and I look at all these different gravestones and I don’t know who’s who. I know that when people will pass my grandfather and they see ‘George Kambosos’, they’re going to know straight away that that must be the grandfather of the undisputed champion, he must be related to George Kabosos the fighter. And that’s legacy there,” he said.
“Money comes and goes. The bright lights come and go, the media, the interviews will come and go but the name and what you do in your life, that lasts forever.”
You can catch the Kambosos vs Lopez match up by visiting www.dazn.com.