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Kambosos talks victory over Lopez, future ahead of Las Vegas trip

George Kambosos Jr. hardly slept last weekend.

Maybe two or three hours amid the hysteria he caused by stunning Teofimo Lopez on Saturday in New York at Madison Square Garden and becoming the unified lightweight champion with a majority decision victory.

“Leading up the fight, 99.9 percent of people didn’t believe, but I believed,” said Kambosos, a +600 underdog on Friday night. “You’ve got to believe in yourself no matter what you do. Boxing. Anything If you don’t believe in yourself 110 percent, you will not achieve it. You will not get there. And that’s what I did.

“I backed my training. I backed the hard work that I put in this sport,” he added. “And I believed in myself. I made it happen. I’ve done it.”

Kambosos (20-0, 1o knockouts) boxed brilliantly Saturday to beat Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs) and is traveling to Las Vegas this week to watch fellow lightweight Devin Haney defend his WBC title against JoJo Diaz in a fight that could determine his next opponent.

A fight against the victor definitely appeals to the native Australian. But only in Australia before a crowd of 80,000 or so after traveling stateside to capture the WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC franchise titles.

He could opt to fight Haney or Diaz. Other top lightweights include Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and Vasiliy Lomachenko. WBO junior-lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson could also move from 130 to 135 pounds.

“I want to fight the best. I want to give the fans the best of the best,” said the 28-year-old Australian, who is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and free to fight on any network. “I’ve never ducked anybody and it’s evident.”

Kambosos spoke with the Review-Journal about his victory over Lopez and the trajectory of his career as the new champion.

Questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

RJ: What do you feel was the most crucial element of your preparation? Especially with all the delays and postponements that accompanied this fight?

Kambosos: I continually put in work. I got better every single day. Continued to perfect the game plan. That’s why in the fight, you saw so many different versions of what I came to the table with. I was always prepared. Always conditioned. We had a great training camp from Wyoming to Sydney. Sydney back to Miami. I’ve got a great team. Great people around me. I’m the champion, but my team is the champion as well.

RJ: At what juncture during the promotion did you feel like you took the psychological edge?

Kambosos: I broke Teofimo back in April when we had our first press conference when Triller was promoting it in Atlanta. I mentally broke him right then and there. He was scared. He was very nervous. He didn’t think that he was dealing with what I brought to the table. The eyes don’t lie. I was living in his head rent-free. I just continued to chip away. Chip away. Show my confidence. Show my character. That outweighs talent. I broke him. Before the first bell went, I knew that I had him already. I knew he would come out flying, but I knew I would catch him as well. The game plan was perfect.

RJ: How did your first-round knockdown change the course of the fight?

Kambosos: Referencing the great Cus D’Amato, you know, when Muhammad Ali asked for his advice when he was fighting Joe Frazier. He said “How do I beat this punching machine? What do I do in this fight?” And (D’Amato) said “Hit him with your best right hand. Hit him with a right hand in the first round and make him respect you.” And that’s what was in my head. I went back to the legends of this game. I went back to the legendary trainers. I studied so much more and I just learned more and more about the fight game from these great trainers. That was the game plan. Especially in that first round.

RJ: You’re the champion now. You’re going to have flexibility. You’re going to have options. What do you want the trajectory of your career to be like? What are you looking for next?

Kambosos: I like the Haney fight. But there’s some very good fights coming up in the lightweight division. It’s who shines the best, honestly. I showed what I have. I believe that was the performance of the year. Fight of the year. Upset of the year. I want to see who performs the best and we’ll make the right decision. They’ve all got jobs to do. Each and every one of them and then I’m sure we’ll all enjoy Christmas time. I’ll be in the gym perfecting my craft. And then in early 2022, something will be signed. I’m sure it’ll be a megafight. In Australia. In front of 80,000 people.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.