BN: This is your first fight under Top Rank, who also promote potential rivals Teofimo Lopez, Shakur Stevenson and Vasyl Lomachenko, but won’t necessarily favour you, geographically…
It was just the right move, to have not only have one powerhouse but two powerhouses [the second is Lou DiBella] behind me in this second coming of my career. Look at the lightweight division, and the 140lbs division. Top Rank has the majority of the big, big names. It just made a lot of sense. I’m here for the biggest and best fights. I stay as a pay-per-view fighter in Australia; I get to headline here in America. I’m excited to be back in the US; this is where I started; where I built my name.
There is plans for the big fights; the mega fights; the stadium fights [to take place in Australia]. There’s a few names that make a lot of sense. I know I can do my half of the stadium, but you need the right dance partner; a big name. We wanted to showcase as a big attraction in America. Forget the city; forget where the fight is. Oklahoma – I’m looking forward to it.This was [ESPN’s] next stop. It worked with my timing of the fight. It was originally supposed to be in Vegas, but that was the ESPN+ option. I wanted the general person to be able to tune in and say, “Kambosos is back”.
If you’d asked four or five years ago I’d have said, “I’m very wary of being an Aussie fighter [with a US-based promoter that has American lightweights]”, but I’m a global name.
BN: You were present at Lomachenko’s past fight, against Devin Haney, having previously nearly fought him. Were you in contention to fight him if he’d won?
Yes, definitely. We were shortlisted. But I’ve built up a lot of respect for Devin Haney. If Lomachenko was to have won, it would have been a highly likely opportunity. We were supposed to fight back in 2018. We had a signed deal to fight [in 2022]. Third time lucky would have been the charm, but that fight’s still there. There’s even a plan to possibly fight in Greece. With the war [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine], there are a lot of Ukrainians in Greece; I’m a massive name in Greece.
BN: That fight divided opinion. How did you see it?
I thought Devin was going to dominate a little bit more. I still was happy with the decision – and a lot of people won’t agree with me – but you gotta take the belts off the champion. Like Devin took them off me; like when I took them off [Teofimo] Lopez. That’s no disrespect to Lomachenko – he showed so much more than a lot of people expected. Without Haney being the champion maybe it could have gone either way. Hearing that he took round 12 off is a little bit disappointing, because a big fight like that, you come to those 11ths and 12ths, you give everything. Even in the Haney fights, especially the second one, when I knew I was down I still was pushing so hard in rounds 11 and 12. I can look myself in the mirror and say, “I gave everything”. A [future] hall of famer like Lomachenko is going to be questioning himself a lot; you don’t want that from a fighter like that.
BN: What about Lopez’s victory over Josh Taylor?
Lopez loves fighting southpaws. If you give a guy like Lopez a lot of confidence he’s a very good fighter. He can do things a lot of fighters can’t do. But if you take his confidence away; if you land your shots; if you make him see shots he can’t see, you can land; you take away a lot of his best attributes. He’s a great fighter. It’s great for myself; my resume. We’ll see what happens with that possibility [of a rematch] down the line. I give him inside the top 10 [on the pound-for-pound list]. Devin’s [also] inside the top 10. I’ve said it before – don’t judge a guy like myself on a loss from Haney. Haney’s an extraordinary athlete; a very, very big lightweight. A very good fighter. It’s how someone comes back – we saw Lopez coming back. I’m looking forward to coming back.
I believe [I’ll always beat Lopez]. I’m an aggressive counter-puncher; I throw a lot of shots, in bunches. He will always be there for the taking. He stays in that position. You can’t let a guy like that dictate. The level changes we did in that fight; the right hands, the left hooks, the jabs. Everything worked. I’m a better fighter since that fight. It’s my biggest victory.
BN: How good is Shakur Stevenson?
Very good fighter. I’ve got a lot of respect for Shakur Stevenson. But it’s definitely a guy – there’s interest there. Now he’s in the lightweight division and chasing his mark; I’m chasing my mark too. It’s a fight that could, and probably will, happen in the near future.
BN: What about Gervonta “Tank” Davis?
That’s a definite fight I’ve been quite vocal about. I was vocal before the Lopez fight – I could see certain styles that match up. Tank’s a great fighter – very dynamic and explosive, and a power puncher. We saw what he did with Ryan Garcia. He put a rehydration clause [in place] – that taints for me a little bit that victory. But Ryan signed up for it. Definitely a fight I’d like to have. At this stage of our careers he’s the A-side, and you’d go wherever you’d have to go to make that fight happen.
BN: Who’s the best?
Devin, at this stage, is the guy. He’s the guy that’s proven; he’s beat the likes of myself; he’s beat Lomachenko. It’s common sense [he’s going to move up to 140lbs for his next fight]. You see how much talk there is with [a potential fight against Regis] Prograis. He’s big; he’s growing; he’s still young. For his health and the next steps for his career it makes a lot of sense.
We’ve got the best fighters in the world [at 135lbs]. The biggest names. We’ve shown a lot of us are willing to fight each other. We’ll look back, in many years, and say, “What a time that was – we had the best fighters fighting the best”. You win some; you lose some; you bounce back. That’s what it’s all about. You want the difficult fights; the hard fights. You want to be able to prove people wrong. Yeah, it comes with the money, but the money is not the objective. It’s the legacy; getting the names on the resume. That’s what I’m chasing – at 30 years of age I feel better than ever. “I’m still here – I can bounce back.”
BN: What lessons did those defeats by Haney teach you?
When you become champion it comes with a lot of hard work. Not just the training, and the boxing, but the outside – the crown becomes heavy. When you’re promoting a big fight, 45,000 in a stadium, and you’re the main guy in your own country – I was everywhere for eight weeks leading into the [first] fight. We’ve looked at the mistakes – where my time management wasn’t 100 per cent. It affected my training. But I’ll never make excuses. He beat me the second time – I had a fantastic training camp and he beat me. Maybe I should have come out to the US [to prepare] but that’s just lessons and mistakes.
BN: Was it a mistake to take the rematch?
No, definitely not. The rematch [clause] was there in the contract. “I don’t need that – I’m going to beat this guy.” You start to lose your mind a little bit. You feel you’re unbeatable. But you got good people; smart people around you. Why would I complain with getting another opportunity to push my hardest to try to win that fight and looking after my family [financially] as well? If I fail in something am I just going to turn away from it? The second fight was a much better fight; an action fight.
BN: You’ve made history and are financially secure. What’s driving you?
The love of competition. The love of fighting. That man on man. Warrior. That instinct – fighting. That competitiveness. Being able to leave my comfort zone – to come out here to the gyms and put in the hard work. That hunger; that focus, is burning like crazy right now. I don’t need to fight – I want to fight.
I’ve got a young family; I’ve got three kids. But I believe in my skills – I believe in my team – and I believe in my ability. I’ve had some big fights – been hit with some very big shots, But I’m blessed to still be very healthy. I can sit here and talk as good as you can. A few more good years; win some more belts; make some more history, and then from there I’ll find my calling in some media; my promotional company [Ferocious Promotions]. There are many more things I can achieve in my life but for now, relentless – focused – on showing this warrior’s still here.
BN: How much of a threat does Maxi Hughes pose?
Maxi’s a good fighter. But this is another level. When he’s coming to to the US, facing a guy like myself – extremely motivated; sacrificing so much already at this stage of my career – this is another level. It’s too big for him. I’m looking forward to it. I see the mistakes he makes. I see a lot of things he’s doing, and I look forward to making a statement with him. There’s no disrespect, but you’re in the way, and I’m going to make an emphatic statement with you.
He’s the perfect opponent [to return against]. He will be at his best. I will be better than ever. I would not be here [in Los Angeles] sacrificing in the US [if I wasn’t]. Hughes will come to fight and we’re fully prepared and we’ll bring what we want to bring. I look forward to a good fight, but I will be victorious and make a statement with you.
BN: Australia has a generation of strong fighters, when typically it has had individuals…
It’s a really good era. We have a really good crop of fighters coming out of Australian boxing and I’m very proud to be able to show that it can be done.
This is the best it’s ever been. It’s always been an individual guy that would pop up. You had [Jeff] Fenech; obviously Kostya [Tszyu]; Vic Darchinyan; Anthony Mundine; Danny Green. But this is a good group of fighters, led by myself, then [Tim] Tszyu; Jason Maloney; his brother Andrew. Liam Paro – another good fighter.
The amateur circuit is a very good circuit now. We have a good amateur team. That’s helped a lot. Boxing has become a lot more popular in Australia. Boxing’s a numbers game. That’s why I’ve come to the US – when you’ve got more numbers you’ve got more sparring options, and guys that are going to continue to improve. That’s where it’s at [in Australia]. You’ve got more people involved; you’ve got better foundations, and it’s in a great position. There’s some very good young talent, and I’m very confident in the next three, four, five, six years that a lot of them are going to emerge.
BN: Is Tszyu good enough to beat Jermell Charlo?
He’s a very good fighter. He’s had some good victories in the last few months. Charlo’s a different kettle of fish. That’s a guy where the real fight is, as we say. You can have fights leading up to it, like I did with [Lee] Selby; Micky Bey, but Lopez was my big test. That’s where you make or break. I believe that Charlo’s his big test – that’s make or break. If you lose to a guy like that, you can bounce back and win a title, but you’ll never be able to reach that superstardom. Is Charlo a step too far? I would say “Yes” a few months ago, but Tim’s been quite active, and that gap has got closer.
We used to train altogether at the same gym – at the Tszyu Academy. At the start of my career Kostya was always around at the gym, and he was always floating from Australia to Russia – he lives in Russia now. His dad is a superstar. It’s amazing to think that if Tim can do it as well, so many belts have come out of that gym. [Kostya] was very militant – the way he trained. We all were, as amateurs – it gave us that focus. He wasn’t the most talkative kind of guy, but I wish him all the best – he’s a good man. What I did at that gym many years ago was good fun.
BN: Comparisons have been made between you and Michael Katsidis…
An absolute legend. I know Mike very well. He’s a guy that I looked up to, as a young aspiring amateur who wanted to be a professional and champion. My biggest memory is watching Katsidis and [Juan Manuel] Marquez [in 2010]. I jumped off my seat when he knocked him down. It was amazing. Very unfortunate he couldn’t win that fight. He had so much going on with his brother passing away too, but he’s an absolute legend. I was in awe of this guy. He’s a real warrior; a Greek Aussie like myself. He deserves more respect in Australia – [for] fighting over here [in the US]. True champion. I’ve got a lot of love for Michael Katsidis. He’s always been very supportive of my career. A lot of people said, “Kambosos is like Katsidis, the way he fights”, and Michael said, “Yes, to a point, but this guy is better – he’s more skilled, faster”, and I’ve so much respect hearing that from him.