George Kambosos Jr: “We Want The Big Fights In America”
By: Sean Crose
“I give them as much inspiration and motivation as I can.”
So says lightweight contender, George Kambosos Jr, who, at 13-0, will be making his American debut this Saturday evening at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort and Casino against the 13-6-1 Jose Forero. Kambosos is certainly a fighter to watch, one who employs lightning fast speed and an ability to work both the head and body simultaneously. The Sydney, Australia native also possesses an engaging, outgoing personality, which lends itself well to the contemporary American fight scene. As much as he longs for ring success, however – and the man certainly wishes to attain considerable heights – Kambosos also wants to help those in need, namely those who live through the type of experience he had growing up.
Photo Credit: George Kambosos Jr. Twitter Account
“I was always a heavy kid,” he says. “I was bullied at school.” Now a rising star in the fight game, the fighter helps bullied children as much as possible. ”We put out a real good motivational video on YouTube,” he says. The inspirational piece had over a million views. Unfortunately, YouTube took the video down, apparently for reasons connected to the audio. Kambosos, however, is still engaged. As he says, his experience has: “made me a better person.”
As a young man in Sydney, Kambosos’ eagerness to not only get in shape, but to stay there, led the young man to a local boxing gym – and things were never the same. “As soon as I started working at the gym,” Kambosos says, “I fell in love with the sport.” Kambosos may not be widely unknown in America at the moment, but his US debut comes with an impressive pedigree behind it. Aside from an amateur experience that took him around the world, the lightweight has also sparred quite a bit with a genuine legend. “Manny’s an all-time great,” he says of the one and only Manny Pacquiao, who Kambosos was a sparring partner for in the lead up to last year’s controversial welterweight title bout with Jeff Horn. “He’s a guy I look up to.”
Kambosos didn’t just trade a few punches with Pacquiao, his role was to legitimately help train the titlist for the Horn match. “Manny has extreme speed and so do I,” says Kambosos. “He’s still got it when he’s on.” Oh, and in case anyone’s wondering, Kambosos agrees with many people when it comes to the most controversial judges’ cards of last year. “I still believe he won the (Horn) fight,” Kambosos states. In fact, the up and comer isn’t of the opinion that the Filipino legend is washed up. “On his (best) day, I still believe he can be anybody,” Kambosos says of Pacquiao.
Kambosos is no mere sparring partner, though. Put simply, he’s a fighter on the rise. “We’ve got Lou DiBella behind me now,” he says. DiBella, one of the top promoters in boxing, knows how to move a fighter along, something Kambosos is grateful for. Provided Saturday goes as planned (“We take this guy out. We look great.”), Kambosos is ready to make his move towards the top of the division. “Another three or four fights, we’ll definitely be in line for a title fight,” he says. Already well known in his native land, Kambosos now wants his fame to grow. “Back in Australia,” he says, “it’s hard to walk down the street.”
That may not be the case for Kambosos in America – but he aims to change all that, starting this weekend in Connecticut. “We want the big fights in America,” he says, “and we want the stardom.” As Kambosos makes clear: “We want to take a risk…we want to chase the big boys here in America.” Kambosos is aware of the fact that a winning personality can help take a fighter far. “It’s very important in the American scene,” he says. If things go as planned, the lightweight’s formula of ring and personal appeal will be an irresistible combination for fight fans. “I think the Americans are going to love it,” he says. “It’s going to keep building, bigger and stronger.”
First, though, there’s the matter of Forero. “He’s a solid puncher,” Kambosos says of this weekend’s foe. Perhaps more importantly, “he’s coming in with nothing to lose.” Sure enough, a victory over a lauded rising star would be a huge career builder for any fighter. Kambosos, however, isn’t worried. “I love the pressure,” he says. “That’s why we’re here.” It helps to have a solid background behind him as he makes his stateside debut. “I started boxing at eleven years of age,” he says. “I got a good, solid base from that system.” Plus, training for Saturday has gone well.
“It’s been a good camp,” Kambosos states in regards to his preparation, adding he’s been working with “real quality guys.” One of those guys, of course, is his trainer. “I hooked up with the guys in America,” he recalls, “with Justin Fortune.” A former heavyweight of note, Fortune is, like Kambosos, an Australian who made his way to America to at least in part capitalize on the fight game. Now a respected trainer, Fortune has impressed his young contender. “Justin’s great,” Kambosos says. “We gel very, very well.” Although he was once with Kostya Tszyu’s gym in Australia and helped Pacquiao alongside Freddie Roach, Kambosos is happy with the man he has in his corner, just like he is with his career at the moment.
As the interview winds down, Kambosos tells of the time he was working with Pacquiao, how his partner was about to give birth to his daughter – now nine months old. “Your life’s going to change,” Pacquiao told him. It was a prediction that happily turned true. Kambosos’ life may change again after he makes his American debut this Saturday. And, if he has his way, the lightweight division will feel the effects.
Broadway Boxing at Foxwoods Results: Niall Kennedy wins controversial decision
by B.A. Cass
By the time the main event began at just after 11 PM, the crowd at the Foxwood’s Fox Theater had already thinned out. It had been a long night. They had already seen Ireland’s Raymond Moylette win a split decision over Donte Bryant. Next came the pro debuts of Nicholas DeQuattro and Timothy Wheeler. This brief clash made me wonder if both men had prepared for the fight by wearing fake antlers because came at each other headfirst, like woodland beasts. When DeQuattro, a Rhode Island native, scored a second-round knockout, the local crowd got to its feet, and it was hard not to be swept up by their emotion.
Photo Credit: Ed Diller / DiBella Entertianment
The fight between Adrian Sosa and Francisco Medel was a clear mismatch. Medel walked to the ring draped in an old brown towel. Perhaps it had sentimental value, but it made it seem, right from the start, that he was a poor man come for a paycheck. And he looked vastly out of shape when compared to Sosa, who won via a third-round stoppage by the judge. Sosa, a bit of a showboat, could be seen weaving close to the camera before the fight began and did the same to intimidate his opponent when the judge had them touch gloves. After the fight, Sosa donned a ridiculous robe. He then asked for the microphone and awkwardly thanked Lou DiBella for the chance to prove himself. It’s odd to see the sycophantic so closely paired with the egomaniacal, but Sosa had both on display Friday night.
Next came Ievgen Khytrov vs. Derrick Findley, a man who has lost by decision to some decent talent. Derrick tired towards the end, but the younger Khytrov had to exert himself to score a win by UD. Derrick is one of those journeymen who constantly loses and who, at the same time, never quite meets defeat. He deserves respect for that, at the very least.
The most exciting part of the undercard was seeing19-year-old “Marvelous” Mykquan Williams in his face-off against Evincii Dixon. Mykquan’s arms and short dreads twitched as he set up shot after shot. Reminiscent of a young Andre Ward in the way he goes to the body and how is always looking for a way in, Mykquan is a cerebral fighter who doesn’t lack for power or speed. He’s a boxer to follow
The real event of the evening, the fight that the majority of the people had come to see, was Shelley Vincent vs. Angel Gladney. Twelve out of the fifteen people I spoke with said they were there to root for Vincent. Women, men, children—so many people had come to see this five-foot tall, fast-talking boxer get back in the ring with a fighter she had faced earlier in her career. “We were both 118 then. We ain’t 118 anymore,” Vincent told me a week before the fight, laughing. “We’re fighting at 130 now. That’s the weight she could make. It’s way too big for me, but coming off the injury and not being able to train for the two months, it ended up being perfect.”
Vincent was supposed to return to the ring this past June, but she had to back out of the fight due to a car accident that left her with a severe concussion and a ruptured eardrum. And it appeared the time away had affected her, as the first round started off slowly. The crowd was quiet until a singular voice rang out clear above the mumblings: “Tear her a new asshole, Shelly!” Laughter broke out in certain parts of the room. But Vincent seemed to be stalling. She looked to the judge to see if he would make a call against Gladney. He did nothing, and Vincent stomped her foot twice, making the ring shake. “Just box!” Pete Manfredo Sr., Vincent’s trainer, called out. It’s not often you witness fighters yell across the ring to their trainers during a fight, but the always outspoken, always entertaining Vincent did. “She stepped on my foot,” she yelled defensively.
Shelly’s head just didn’t seem to be in the fight. She wasn’t engaging with Gladney. And worse, later in the round, she dropped her hands and stared down the judge as if it to intimidate him into making some kind of call against Gladney. That’s when Jen Salinas, a mother of four who knows how to deal with misbehavior, yelled out, “Focus, Shelley.”
Salinas knows Vincent as few do. They have been sparring partners, lovers, and, though the needs of career and family have separated them physically, they remain deeply connected and always work each other’s corners. Salinas’s words seemed to do the trick. Vincent emerged from that hesitant first round to become the dominant force in the ring, controlling the pace of the fight in her characteristic fashion, which is to say relentlessly. She might have finished Gladney off in the fourth round, if not for the sound of that two-minute bell. Gladney got through it, but the fight was never hers after that.
The main event was an evenly matched fight between Alexis Santos and Niall “Boom Boom” Kennedy. “That’s beu-ti-ful,” Kennedy’s countrymen kept screaming in their Irish brogue, no matter whether Boom Boom landed a punch or got hit. “That’s it! Get’m, Boom Boom!” At one point, Foxwoods security—men and women in cheap, oversized red sports jackets—had to prevent a small Irish contingent from approaching the ring after a vicious exchange between the two fighters. It was at this point that Santos looked back at the belligerent young Irishmen with a worried expression. The hostile, vocal opposition seemed to affect his performance negatively. Santos’ supporters, hailing mostly from the Lawrence area, were vocal though not quite as exuberant as Kennedy’s—at least not until the referee deducted a point from Santos for what he ruled a low blow. The referee also failed to acknowledge the fact that, in the last round, Boom Boom remained standing only with the aid of the ropes. That said, Boom Boom looked like the more collected, focused fighter throughout and because of it, he got a split decision win.
After the fight, when Boom Boom was being interviewed in the ring, the big man mentioned something about how his coach kept setting goalposts and how he kept surpassing them—the kind of forgettable phrase that you hear all too often from athletes. I couldn’t help but think how much more exciting it would be to see Shelly Vincent up there talking in front of the cameras. I’ve never heard her say a commonplace thing yet. She is fiercely intelligent, as aggressive and as wild with her words that she is with her fists. The next time I see her fight, I hope she’ll be the main event.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch
Showtime World Championship Boxing Results: Pedraza Wins by Decision, Russell Destroys Hyland
Showtime World Championship Boxing Results: Pedraza Wins by Decision, Russell Destroys Hyland
By: William Holmes
The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut was the host site for tonight’s World Championship Boxing telecast on Showtime. Two world title fights were featured as Gary Russell Jr. defended his WBC Featherweight Title against Patrick Hyland in the main event of the night and Jose Pedraza defended his IBF Junior Lightweight Title in the co-main event.
The first bout of the night was between Jose Pedraza (21-0) and Stephen Smith (23-1) for the IBF Junior Lightweight Title.
Smith started the bout off strong by taking control of the center of the ring in the first round and was accurate with his lead left hook, but neither boxer was threatened in the opening stanza and both were feeling each other out.
Pedraza came out firing in the second round and landed an early two punch combination followed by a straight right hand that hurt Smith. Smith was forced to tie up several times in the second round as Pedraza was able to land several hard shots.
Pedraza showed good head movement in the third and fourth round and boxed patiently. Smith was able to land a few blows to the body of Pedraza, but Pedraza remained in control.
Pedraza’s upper body movement appeared to confuse Smith in the fifth and sixth rounds, and Pedraza pressed forward more in the sixth round and was effective in landing from the outside.
Smith was able to offer some good flurries in the seventh and eighth rounds and may have stolen these rounds, but his shots were not hurting his opponent.
Pedraza finally scored a knockdown in the ninth round when he connected with a flush counter right hand. Smith was able to get back to his feet and held on when he could to try and survive the round, but not without taking some additional punishment.
Smith showed heart and clearly needed a knockout in the championship rounds to win the bout, but he was unable to do so.
The judges scored the bout 117-110, 116-111, and 116-111 for Jose Pedraza.
The main event of the evening was between Gary Russell Jr. (26-1) and Patrick Hyland (31-1) for the WBC Featherweight Title.
Patrick Hyland was a heavy underdog in this fight, and Russell’s hand speed was very evident in the first round as his jab was on point and he seemed confident in landing his combinations when he threw them.
Russell was able to score his first knockdown in the second round with a lightning fast right hook that sent Hyland to the mat for the first time in his career. He was able to get back to his feet but was knocked down a second time while falling back into the ropes. The referee allowed him to continue, but he only went down for the third and final time after a four punch combination for Gary Russell Jr. The referee, rightly, waived off the fight.
Gary Russell Jr. won by KO at 1:33 of round two.