Thursday , October 21 2021

Aussie’s heartbreaking sacrifice for $7m title fight

Australian challenger George Kambosos Jr says he’s prepared to miss the birth of his third child to win the lightweight world title from “irresponsible” champion Teofimo Lopez.

A COVID-19 positive for Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) has put his $7.6 million fight with Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) in limbo. They were meant to face-off for five belts last Sunday in Miami, only for the American to test positive in fight week.

Kambosos broke his silence on the fight postponement on Friday, branding Lopez “immature”.

“I was 110 per cent ready to destroy Lopez and take those belts but things happen,” Kambosos, the IBF mandatory challenger, told Wide World of Sports.

“He copped COVID and we just continue working. I’m here in Miami and we continue to work and we’ll see when he’s ready to get it on.

“I haven’t had no explanation about how he got it but obviously he’s got it. I’d just arrived at the fight hotel … I was so excited to be part of this headline fight and to create history.

“Literally maybe an hour later, I get the call to go up to my manager’s room and hear the bad news. My first thing was, ‘No way, bulls–t, this ain’t happening’.

“But I asked for and saw the reports, I saw all the special tests they ran on him. [Fight promoter] Triller sent their own doctors and made sure.

“The kid’s got it, it’s a very irresponsible thing from the undisputed champion. You’re meant to keep yourself very safe, you’re in a mega-fight and there’s millions and millions of dollars involved. You’re supposed to take a very safe approach and go with the precautions so this fight, just like I did.

“My team, myself, we stayed safe, we took the precautions and we came in ready to fight. Even on the fight date, I went and did another COVID test, just to prove to the world that I’m negative on the day of the fight and I’m ready to fight.

“I’m hungrier that ever. I just want to get my hands on him.”

Yet now Kambosos faces rescheduling issues. August 14 was suggested as a replacement date but Lopez, an asthmatic, has suffered serious virus symptoms and that timeframe seems unlikely. Lopez can’t shadow-box without feeling on the brink of collapse, Triller boss Ryan Kavanaugh said last week.

Triller suggested an October date, given that Kambosos and his wife Bec are expecting their third child in September. But given Kambosos’ fierce desire to become world champion, combined with the quarantine restrictions upon returning to Australia, he’s ready to make a colossal family sacrifice.

“I want him at 110 per cent, so I’m more than happy to wait a little bit longer, be away from my family a little bit longer. That’s the kind of fighter I am,” Kambosos said.

“I don’t want no excuses, I don’t want him coming into the fight saying, ‘I had COVID, the weight, the whole lot, I lost the belts for this reason’. No. You’re 110 per cent ready and we’re fighting.

“I’m really not sure at the moment with the exact date. August 14, I can’t see that happening. But I’m ready to fight and I’m still here in Miami.

“I’ve sent my wife back home, she’s pregnant and I’ve sent her home. I’ve sent most of the team back home but I’m here in Miami still preparing, still training, still staying focused.

“This is how much it means to me: if it means me missing the birth of my third kid, then so be it, because I’m on a mission. I need to win this fight, I need to win these belts.

“Particularly what I’ve gone through with this fight, I’m a man possessed right now. If they thought I was a hungry lion before, I’m caged right now and I’m just waiting to get my hands on him.

“I’m going to make him pay when we do finally step in there.”

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