George Kambosos jnr used to complain he didn’t get the love he felt he deserved from the Australian public. It’s funny how a few pieces of hard-earned bling can change that.
About 200 people were on hand to greet the world’s new unified lightweight champion as he touched down at Sydney Airport on Thursday morning, proudly wearing the WBA, IBF and WBO belts he took off Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden in arguably the biggest win in Australian boxing history.
It was as close to pandemonium as we’re likely to get mid-pandemic. Chants of ‘Georgie! Georgie!’ rang throughout the arrivals hall as the crowd, waving both Greek and Australian flags, waited for the country’s newest champion to emerge.
Family, friends and fans, old and new, swamped him and his entourage as soon as he did – and Kambosos lapped up every single moment.
“It feels very good to be home,” a beaming Kambosos said.
“These belts are not only my belts but the whole of Australia’s belts, the whole of Greece’s belts. My family, my friends, everyone here – these are their belts as well. As much as I had to go do it inside them ropes, my family and my friends and both countries lifted me up, especially in that round 10.”
George Kambosos is looking forward to a well-earned rest before his next challenge.Credit:Getty
Plans for his next fight, most likely in April or May, are already in the works. Kambosos has not fought on Australian soil since October 2017, having chosen to shift his operations to the United States in pursuit of the very dream he turned into a reality almost a fortnight ago with his stunning split decision triumph over Lopez.
He dropped a big hint in one of his final US interviews before stepping on the plane to Sydney, telling the Joe Rogan Experience podcast he was already dreaming of fighting in front of 80,000 people at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne – home to the world’s biggest Greek population outside the homeland.
But he said Sydney and Melbourne were both “front-runners” and welcomed challenges from Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and Vasily Lomachenko, who have all called him out since his boilover against Lopez.
Haney, who holds the WBC title – the only major strap that Kambosos doesn’t have in the lightweight division – would appear to be at the front of the queue.
About 200 fans greeted Kambosos on his return to Sydney.Credit:Getty
“We’re bringing the big fights here now,” he said.
“I deserve that, I’ve earned that. We’re going to bring them to a massive stadium, 80,000 people. Haney, Davis, Lomachenko, Garcia – they’re all gonna get it.”
For now, Kambosos’ plans are rightfully simple: relax with friends and family and soak this all in across the Christmas period. He’s yet to rewatch the fight with Lopez – that will happen later this week. On Thursday afternoon, he’ll hit the gym. And at some point, he’ll finally get the opportunity to mourn the passing of his grandfather, who died while he was in camp, on the very same day his third child was born.
“Now that I’m home, I can go and see him at the grave site and tell him that I did it. I got them belts,” he said.
“It’s a special moment and in that round 10, he really lifted me up as well. [Then] I’m going to train … because now I’m the one being hunted. They want to come and get what I’ve got, what I’ve had to work so hard for. Come and get it. It won’t be no easy ride.”
Kambosos also hailed his victory as a landmark moment for Australian boxing – but as for reports that some of his countrymen are eager to take him on, he could not have been more dismissive.
“None of them. None of them,” he said.
“Don’t even bring up no Australian fighters. I’m coming for the big names – Haney, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, Lomachenko. That’s the only names I’m talking about. No one has earned it the way I’ve gone and earned it. No one gets a shot until they go and earn it and deserve it the way I’ve done it. They want a shot? Go over to the US and go beat the best of the best and you get a shot.
“We’re coming for the big fish because the world wants to see that. I’m cut from a different cloth. I’m not like the typical Australian fighter that’s going to milk this now. I’m coming for the biggest names, I want to take more risks. We’re going to keep fighting the best of the best and keep proving why we are the number one, the emperor, in the lower divisions.”
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