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New Australian world boxing champion George Kambosos Jr was so focused on overcoming his demons to beat the American who tried to bully him — that he trained through family tragedy to develop the steel he needed to win. 

The 28-year-old Greek-Aussie caused the biggest upset of the year to beat heavily-fancied world lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez last month after the American tried to humiliate him before the fight.

Kambosos jr refused to take a day off in his preparations to fight Lopez, even when his beloved grandfather, George Sr, died on September 24.

The heavily tattooed Sydneysider also missed his partner Bec Pereira giving birth to their third child – remarkably on the same day his grandfather passed.

George Kambosos Jr missed his partner Bec Pereira (pictured together) give birth to their third child - remarkably on the same day his grandfather, George sr, died in the lead-up to his epic world title win. Kambosos Jr and Pereira are pictured together

George Kambosos Jr missed his partner Bec Pereira (pictured together) give birth to their third child - remarkably on the same day his grandfather, George sr, died in the lead-up to his epic world title win. Kambosos Jr and Pereira are pictured together

George Kambosos Jr missed his partner Bec Pereira (pictured together) give birth to their third child – remarkably on the same day his grandfather, George sr, died in the lead-up to his epic world title win. Kambosos Jr and Pereira are pictured together

Pereira and Kambosos Jr are pictured together in Sydney before he went

Pereira and Kambosos Jr are pictured together in Sydney before he went

Pereira and Kambosos Jr are pictured together in Sydney before he went 

George Kambosos Jr is embraced by his dad Jim Kambosos after beating Teofimo Lopez to win the unified world lightweight title in New York

George Kambosos Jr is embraced by his dad Jim Kambosos after beating Teofimo Lopez to win the unified world lightweight title in New York

George Kambosos Jr is embraced by his dad Jim Kambosos after beating Teofimo Lopez to win the unified world lightweight title in New York

Two months later, Kambosos Jr caused the biggest upset in the boxing world, shocking the heavily favoured American in an epic contest to win the unified world lightweight title and become the sport’s hottest property.

‘I still don’t have the words to express this feeling. My face aches from smiling,’ Ms Pereira said on social media after the fight.

‘We are so proud. You backed your words!’

‘Always by my side,’ Kambosos Jr replied. ‘We did it.’

He and Ms Pereira are teen sweethearts. Both from Sydney, they met not long after Kambosos Jr made his professional boxing debut, aged 19, at Sydney’s Croatian Club.

Before that Kambosos Jr was bullied at school in the Sutherland Shire as an overweight 11-year old after coming to Australia with his grandfather from Sparta, Greece.  

‘The 11-year-old me was obese,’ he told Athlete’s Voice. ‘I weighed the same as I do now, 61kg.

‘I was bullied, teased and picked last for sports during lunchtime at school,’ he said.

It was at that moment that his father enrolled him in boxing classes, and Kambosos Jr quickly dropped the excess weight.

As a teenager,  he was placed in the Cronulla Sharks development squad, but found himself at a crossroad when he was forced to chose between boxing or rugby league.

He decided to chose boxing, and from there he began a long struggle, ‘crawling’ to win recognition, the chance to earn a few dollars, while sparring with established fighters, and eventually invitations to fights that would get him noticed. 

George Kambosos Jr took up boxing at 11 after being bullied during school lunchtimes and kept it up to improve his footy fitness

George Kambosos Jr took up boxing at 11 after being bullied during school lunchtimes and kept it up to improve his footy fitness

George Kambosos Jr took up boxing at 11 after being bullied during school lunchtimes and kept it up to improve his footy fitness

At just 13 Kambosos Jr told his father Jim he would one day be a champion

At just 13 Kambosos Jr told his father Jim he would one day be a champion

At just 13 Kambosos Jr told his father Jim he would one day be a champion

George Kambosos Jr gets to spend Christmas 2021 with his family, including his wife Bec Pereira and his three children, after defeating Teofimo Lopez to win the world title. They are pictured together last year before the birth of their son

George Kambosos Jr gets to spend Christmas 2021 with his family, including his wife Bec Pereira and his three children, after defeating Teofimo Lopez to win the world title. They are pictured together last year before the birth of their son

George Kambosos Jr gets to spend Christmas 2021 with his family, including his wife Bec Pereira and his three children, after defeating Teofimo Lopez to win the world title. They are pictured together last year before the birth of their son

But there was another motivation for Kambosos Jr to take up boxing – and it came full circle in front of a hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden against Lopez who belittled Kambosos Jr, promising him the ultimate humiliation of a first round knock out.  

The American – who had beaten the man regarded as the world’s best boxer in his previous fight, Vasiliy Lomachenko – triggered something deep inside Kambosos Jr.

‘I knew that if I couldn’t be broken that day I had that loss [when George Sr died] and missed the birth of my child … Lopez was never going to break me,’ Kambosos Jr told Mike Tyson’s former trainer Teddy Atlas on The Fight podcast. 

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George Kamosos jr caused the biggest upset in the boxing world this year when he beat Teofimo Lopez

George Kamosos jr caused the biggest upset in the boxing world this year when he beat Teofimo Lopez

George Kamosos jr caused the biggest upset in the boxing world this year when he beat Teofimo Lopez 

Lopez bullied Kambosos jr in he lead-up to the fight vowing to knock him out in one round - but it was the Aussie who scored a shock first round knock-down

Lopez bullied Kambosos jr in he lead-up to the fight vowing to knock him out in one round - but it was the Aussie who scored a shock first round knock-down

Lopez bullied Kambosos jr in he lead-up to the fight vowing to knock him out in one round – but it was the Aussie who scored a shock first round knock-down

‘I was prepared to go through whatever I had to go through, I was prepared to die in that ring.’

When his title shot with Lopez was delayed in July after the American contracted Covid, Kambosos Jr refused to lose focus.

Atlas compared Kambosos Jr to the sport’s greatest ever fighter – Muhammad Ali – for his ‘Spartan warrior’ performance against Lopez.

‘People are going to say Teddy you’re crazy you’re going to far, the great Muhammad Ali and George Kambosos? 

‘No I’m not crazy. There were similarities.

An emotional George Kambosos jr is flanked by his team, including his father Jim (over his right shoulder) after defeating Teofimo Lopez in New York

An emotional George Kambosos jr is flanked by his team, including his father Jim (over his right shoulder) after defeating Teofimo Lopez in New York

An emotional George Kambosos jr is flanked by his team, including his father Jim (over his right shoulder) after defeating Teofimo Lopez in New York

Kambosos Jr was congratulated by his partner Bec Pereira after his epic win. 'My face aches from smiling' she said of her reaction

Kambosos Jr was congratulated by his partner Bec Pereira after his epic win. 'My face aches from smiling' she said of her reaction

Kambosos Jr was congratulated by his partner Bec Pereira after his epic win. ‘My face aches from smiling’ she said of her reaction

Kambosos Jr credited 250 rounds of sparring he did with Filippino legend Manny Pacquiao for helping him to become world champion. When they finished Pacquiao told him 'you're ready'

Kambosos Jr credited 250 rounds of sparring he did with Filippino legend Manny Pacquiao for helping him to become world champion. When they finished Pacquiao told him 'you're ready'

Kambosos Jr credited 250 rounds of sparring he did with Filippino legend Manny Pacquiao for helping him to become world champion. When they finished Pacquiao told him ‘you’re ready’

‘You were going into a fight with a great puncher, an intimidating guy like Ali did [against George Foreman], a guy he wasn’t supposed to have a chance with. 

‘You were going into the ring with a guy you were supposed to have no chance with.

‘You couldn’t have written a script by Hollywood producers and directors better than this script,’ Atlas said.

Atlas’s reference to Ali wasn’t empty talk. Kambosos Jr studied the fight he referred to – Ali’s 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ win against Foreman – who was considered unbeatable.

He knew Ali’s trainer, the legendary Cus D’Amato had advised Ali to hit Foreman in the first round. Kambosos Jr followed D’Amato’s advice to do the same to Teofimo Lopez.

Kambosos Jr told Atlas he knew Lopez was ‘too emotional’ about the fight, so he devised a strategy to deal with the American, who rushed the Aussie, trying to floor him immediately.

‘War is deception,’ Kambosos Jr said. 

‘In the leadup I said I’m coming straight for ya, I’m gonna take your head off, but I had a game plan for every round.

Kambosos Jr is pictured with one of his heroes, Rhonda Rousey

Kambosos Jr is pictured with one of his heroes, Rhonda Rousey

Kambosos Jr is pictured with one of his heroes, Rhonda Rousey 

Since the fight it has been revealed Lopez was suffering a respiratory condition - pneumomediastinum - that would have reduced his breathing and 'could have killed him', New York doctors said

Since the fight it has been revealed Lopez was suffering a respiratory condition - pneumomediastinum - that would have reduced his breathing and 'could have killed him', New York doctors said

Since the fight it has been revealed Lopez was suffering a respiratory condition – pneumomediastinum – that would have reduced his breathing and ‘could have killed him’, New York doctors said

‘I said here’s my moment [when he rushed me], I’m gonna land that right hand. But he’s gonna know what I possess. I let it go and it landed sweet and I put him down.

‘I was prepared to go down, I was prepared to get up. I was prepared to survive.’

Kambosos Jr knocked Lopez down in round one, and made sure to remind him at the first bell.

‘I looked at him and I said ‘hey, one round? I’m still here and I put you down. 

‘I saw his soul [leave] him.’  

Lopez inevitably came back and knocked Kambosos Jr down in the 10th. The iron-willed Aussie got up to win the 11th and 12th rounds and a split decision. 

‘I have crawled my way up, I’m no stranger to the floor, Kambosos Jr said.

The badly beaten-up American received a hostile reaction for claiming he’d won after the fight.

‘Look at your face,’ Kambosos Jr told him. But he told Atlas there were no hard feelings and he still respects Lopez. 

Kambosos Jr said before the fight he knew the crowd would be against him – but he vowed to win them over.

‘I said to myself they gonna boo you know in round one but by round 12 I knew they’d applaud me.’ 

‘I walked out of there with everything and they cheered for me.’ 

His many tattoos tell his story of struggle and ambition: ‘never retreat, never surrender’, dream without fear’. Images of Spartan warrior legend King Leonidas, Achilles and Jesus Christ are inked on his body.

He’ll need all the street smarts and talent now, with some of the world’s best boxers lining up to collect his belts.

For now Kambosos Jr remains unbeaten. 

But he has a tough road ahead, with some of the best fighters in any division potentially ahead of him, including Lomachenko, Devin Haney or Floyd Mayweather’s destructive prodigy, ‘Tank’ Gervonta Davis.

Lomachenko has already goaded Kambosos Jr, saying he’d have no problem coming to Australia but ‘I’m not sure he wants to fight me.’

Some calculations involve the heavy-handed Davis fighting Kamboso jr next for the WBA title.

‘[I’ll face] any of em,’ Kambosos jr told Atlas.

‘We have this saying in Greek which I have tattooed on me, which means ‘if you want it come and get it’. Come and take [the belts] from me.

‘But be prepared what you will receive as well. 

‘I know what I’m capable of; I am a soldier, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt. 

Kambosos Jr is already planning to defend his lightweight titles in either Sydney or Melbourne, in front of a full house. 

‘We will fight in Australia in front of 80,000 people, it’s gonna be beautiful.’

‘I know I’ve achieved something great but there’s so much more to go. I’m very stubborn. I want to defend these belts like my life depends on it.’

Atlas said he plans to be at the fight – if he could get ‘forgiveness’ from Australians.

He claims Aussies ‘banned’ him for saying Jeff Horn didn’t deserve the judge’s win over welterweight legend Manny Pacquiao in 2017.

‘Tell the Aussies I’m happy for them. They have a great great champion now,’ Atlas said.

‘This is different from Horn. You’re better than he was.’ 

In a twist of fate Kambosos Jr credited Pacquiao with preparing him, through 250 rounds with the Filipino great – who then Tweeted his congratulations to Kambosos Jr.

‘Pacquio shaped me for that fight. I had a great fight and won all the belts but I think I was more happy from seeing that Tweet [from him].’

He claims Pacquiao told him ‘you’re ready’, you’ll be champion when their work together finished.

Since the fight it has been revealed Lopez was suffering a respiratory condition – pneumomediastinum – that would have reduced his breathing and ‘could have killed him’, New York doctors said.

‘How he breathed, I can’t even explain to you. It’s like somebody tied a 300-pound set of weights around his chest … like his neck and chest were in a vice,’ Dr. Linda Dahl, an otolaryngologist told ESPN.

On Tuesday, Kambosos Jr acknowledged the support of fellow Greek Aussie Alexander Volkanovski, the current UFC featherweight champion.

The pair are friends and Kambosos Jr said they plan to train together – as he teased a potential future MMA fight.

Who knows, you might see me make my UFC debut in the near future. Who knows? We’ll see,’ he told MMA Fighting Mag.

Source: DailyMail

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