‘One of the greatest moments’: Lewis ranks Kambosos among Aussie legends

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‘One of the greatest moments’: Lewis ranks Kambosos among Aussie legends

By Adrian Proszenko

Perhaps it’s appropriate, just moments after he had his hand raised in victory, that George Kambosos Jnr channelled his inner Jeff Fenech.

“I love you’se all,” he said to a stunned crowd at the Hulu Theatre in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Because in upsetting WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez, Kambosos Jnr has joined the likes of Lionel Rose, Fenech and Kostya Tszyu as a legend of Australian boxing.

If there was any doubt, you only need to talk to the renowned trainer who guided Fenech and Tszyu to the top.

“Undoubtedly one of the greatest moments in boxing history in our country,” Johnny Lewis told the Herald. “To fight someone at that level, I can honestly say that it’s right up there with the biggest-ever achievements in boxing.

“The odds were stacked against him, but he’s one of the fittest young athletes you’ll ever see and his mental strength and self-belief was of the highest levels. That’s what got him over the line.

George Kambosos Jnr was too good for Teofimo Lopez.

George Kambosos Jnr was too good for Teofimo Lopez.Credit:Getty

“A lot of things were needed for victory in this fight and he got it all right. It was a massive performance.”

Given the number of “championship” belts that are now being contested in world boxing, it can be difficult for anyone but aficionados to determine which are the legitimate prizes in the sport. The three aforementioned that Kambosos won - he also took out The Ring Magazine lineal championship belt and the WBC franchise strap - are the real deal.

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That he took them from a superstar - Lopez was undefeated in his previous 16 fights and appeared on his way to greatness after beating Vasily Lomachenko - is testament to the feat the man nicknamed “Ferocious” just achieved.

That he did it in Lopez’s backyard, after suffering a potentially momentum-changing knockdown in the 10th round, makes it even more extraordinary.

George Kambosos after winning the lightweight title in New York.

George Kambosos after winning the lightweight title in New York.Credit:Melina Pizano/Matchroom

“It was too good a story to be written like that. I’m so proud of him,” Lewis said. “It was really something special. He’s beaten an absolutely brilliant, hard-punching fighter and took him to school. Every Australian must be so proud of him.

“He won it because he’s George. Do you know what I mean? He just had that great self-belief and he was rewarded for that. I don’t feel like talking, but shouting it out. It was really, really special.”

Surprisingly, Kambosos has been largely snubbed by the mainstream media in Australia. Instead, the attention has gone to former footballers, with punters prepared to shell out $60 to watch them cash in on their second career.

Those who wanted to witness Kambosos make history needed only to shell out $3, the cost of a monthly subscription to DAZN, the platform streaming the event.

Perhaps the 28-year-old’s anonymity is in part due to the fact he rarely fights locally. In the five bouts before this one, he has travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Las Vegas, Athens, New York and Wembley.

He has also spent time in the Philippines sparring against the great Manny Pacquiao, fine-tuning his skills so that he was ready the moment his big chance came. And didn’t he take it.

Lopez has given himself the moniker of “The Takeover” and until Sunday he lived up to the name, dominating the lightweight division. The brash American predicted a round-one knockout, yet he was the one on the canvas after the opening exchanges.

The underdog was in control until the 10th round, in which he was floored. However, he showed that he can take a punch as well as he gives one and recovered to finish the stronger to win over two of the three judges.

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These are exciting times for Australian boxing. Tim Tszyu, Harry Garside, Jai Opetaia, Justis Huni, Brock Jarvis, Isaac Hardman and Moloney twins Andrew and Jason are just some of the rising stars on the local scene.

However, Kambosos is now the face of Australian boxing.

“Very much so and rightly so,” Lewis said. “Absolutely wonderful that it’s happened and no one deserves it more than George and his team.”

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