George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos rose from humble beginnings to the abyss to be crowned the undisputed world champion in lightweight, with boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao playing a major role.
A heavily tattooed Australian (28) has worked hard for recognition for years.
But everything could change on Sunday in Melbourne if he wins his duel against American Devin Haney with the WBA, IBF, WBO and WBC belts.
After a stellar amateur career spanning more than 100 matches, Kambosos has successfully moved into the professional ranks as a teenager and now boasts a 20-0 record with 10 knock-outs.
In 2017, however, she took a happy break, which helped him start the road to his sensational moment this weekend.
He was little known at Freddie Roach’s famous gym in Los Angeles when the legendary coach thought he could be a good sparring partner for Pacquia before his WBO welterweight game against Jeff Horn in Brisbane.
Pacquiao lost wonderfully to Horn, but the Filipino and Kambosos made friendships and the Australian helped him prepare for two more title matches when he rode over 250 laps with the 12-time world champion.
Kambosos says this experience has helped him shape who he is today.
“He told me then that I would become world champion, and when I heard it from a great great of all time, when I heard it from a guy like Manny Pacquiao, it gave me extra support,” Kambosos told reporters.
Pacquiao, who ended his boxing career last year and unsuccessfully ran for Philippine president last month, said he knew from their first meeting that Kambosos could go to the end.
“He wanted to be the best and he took his sparring with me as part of his education,” The Sydney Morning Herald said.
“I’ve never seen the same fighter twice. He was more than a sparring partner, he was a training partner.
“George worked harder than anyone else in the camp, I think that’s why we got along so well.”
– Bullied for your weight –
Kambosos, who was born in southern Sydney to Greek parents, was often bullied as an overweight child as a child, which led to his father enrolling him in boxing lessons to improve his fitness.
He lost extra pounds and fell in love with the sport.
After advancing as an amateur, he decided to become a professional and won his first match in front of his home fans in Sydney in 2013.
To support his career, he decided to settle in the United States with his team, which led to a relationship with Pacquia.
The defeat of Lee Selby in London in 2020 made him a mandatory challenger for the IBF lightweight title, which eventually brought the Australian a rift with WBA, IBF and WBO champion Teofim Lopez at Madison Square Garden in November.
Kambosos seized his chances in a bloody battle and catapulted himself into the big world by angering the American in a stunning division of decisions as a heavy loser to win all three belts.
“I had to earn everything in my career. I had to work hard, extremely hard to get to this position,” Kambosos said before Sunday’s fight against Haney, who holds the WBC lightweight title and is not defeated in 27 games.
“I’ve never really been given anything or an opportunity, I’ve always worked hard to earn it. And that’s how I like it.”
The work has put Kambosos on the brink of his greatest success, with more than 50,000 people expected to fill Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium to see if he can become one of Australia’s best boxers.
mp / arb / pst