It’s not often that undefeated Sydney lightweight George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr 14-0 (8) hands out compliments.
But after two training camps with one of the best to pull on the mitts in the past 30 years, it’s hard for the outspoken Australian to avoid paying homage to his training partner.
“Working with boxing royalty in Manny Pacquiao has sharpened my game up even more,” said Kambosos. “It’s very rare I find someone as fast, sharp and who moves just as good as I do, so to work with Manny takes my fight game to the next level, especially with all the extra one-percenters in training.”
The 25-year-old Kambosos has been in camp with Pacquiao for the past six weeks. For all the money the 39-year-old Filipino legend has accrued over his storied 23-year professional career, the training camp has been a return to the Spartan existence of his youth in the humid mountains on the outskirts of General Santos City where Kambosos joined him in late May.
“Doing these world title camps alongside him gets me doing all the one-percenters that are vital to becoming world champion,” said Kambosos.
“I have prepared exactly the same as Manny has. We sparred together, we ran the mountains together and we put the countless hours in the gym together, so for me this camp has been like I’m fighting for a world title, which is very important as this stage of my career because I take every fight just like I am, because one slip up and that road to the lightweight title just becomes a lot harder.”
Ambition isn’t something lacking in the outspoken Australian, who joined the Pacquiao team last year in the lead-up to the ill-fated Jeff Horn bout in what was seen in some quarters as a national betrayal of his fellow countryman. But as far as Kambosos was concerned, it was simply an opportunity to learn from the best.
“I’m a student of the game,” he said. “I don’t only train extremely hard but I listen, I watch and I continue to learn to get that edge, especially when you’re around and eight-division world champ and trading leather with him. Nearly every day you pick up a lot of new weapons to add to your artillery.”
Kambosos will get the opportunity to display what he has learned when he takes on Filipino JR Magboo 17-1-2 (8) over eight rounds on the Lucas Matthysse versus Pacquiao undercard this Sunday.
“Magboo will have to look out for absolutely everything,” said Kambosos. “He has never seen a fighter like myself. He will be in for a shock from the first punch I land clean on his skull.
“Listen, if I’m making solid sparring partners quit in the gym with headgear and 14oz gloves on, when I put them tiny 8oz fight gloves on, Magboo is gonna be in a whole world of pain.”
Kambosos has high expectations for himself and what hopes to achieve in the game. At the heart of it is a push into the United States where he hopes his undeniable talent in the ring combined with his frank and forthright personality will help him establish a strong fanbase in his home away from home.
As part of this move stateside Kambosos signed on with American boxing advisor Peter Kahn last year, who will work alongside his father and manager Jim Kambosos. In April this year it was announced that Kambosos had joined New York-based promoter Lou DiBella’s stable. He made his American debut as the headline fight on DiBella Entertainment’s popular Broadway Boxing series at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket in May, flashing a quick pair of fists at overmatched Panamanian Jose Forero before knocking him out cold in 108 seconds.
It was the type of dominant performance that encourages water cooler conversations on Monday regardless of the level of opposition.
The final piece of the puzzle for Kambosos has been LA-based Australian expatriate Justin Fortune, who has been sufficiently impressed with the youngster’s skills and work ethic to add him to his elite stable.
“I’ve been working with Justin Fortune for the last couple fights and we have been destructive together,” said Kambosos. “We gel perfectly, we have a great relationship and most importantly, the workhorse that I am, and the way Justin trains fighters, is a perfect match.
“Justin has just two fighters – Manny Pacquiao and George Kambosos Jr – and that’s the way he wants it. Like he says, ‘why have a huge stable when I can focus on one or two great fighters and put my all into them?’.
“That’s the exact mentality you want in a trainer, someone who will give you their all, someone who has great knowledge, someone who has been in the trenches of fights and knows the game inside out. Justin Fortune ticks all those boxes.”
Kambosos sees continual improvement as critical to his success and prides himself on being and A-grade pupil when it comes to boxing and the art of war.
“Like I said, I’m a student of the game. I watch everything I can find on my opponents,” Kambosos said. “Just like the great Sun Tzu quote that I live by when I go into battle: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle’. Just let that quote sink in. A fighter like myself with a warrior mentality must be fully prepared for war in every aspect.”
After being a part of Pacquiao’s last two training camps the question on the tip of everyone’s lips is whether the 11-time world titleholder has been able to recapture some of the early career form that saw him tear his way through eight weight classes before settling in at welterweight almost a decade ago.
“There has been a huge difference from the Horn camp to this camp against Matthysse,” said Kambosos. “He is more focused to recapture this title and be world champion again. He trained a lot smarter and took the right recovery and rest that a 39-year-old fighter should.
“But most of all, he is happier and enjoying himself. Like they say, a happy fighter is a dangerous fighter.