Australia has produced some champions and witnessed great fights on our shores but George Kambosos Jr. could take it to the next level.
History is on the line as George Kambosos Jr. faces Devin Haney for the undisputed lightweight championship of the world at Marvel Stadium today.
The last lightweight fighter to claim the undisputed status was International Boxing Hall of Famer Pernell Whitaker, the American who held the WBA, WBC and IBF belts between 1990 and 1992.
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Short of a draw, either Kambosos or Haney will become the first in the four-belt era to achieve the rare feat.
Since 2004, only seven other fighters have unified their division — the winner of this fight will be number eight.
The sudden rise of Kambosos to king of the lightweight division meant he could request the fight take place in Australia.
After defeating Teofimo Lopez in November Kambosos declared: “I came here I gave you the respect in the ring and I won the fight. Take it like a champ. Move on. We can do it again in Australia in front of 80,000 people.”
While not quite 80,000, it’s possible Sunday’s Marvel Stadium crowd could surpass the 51,026 that attended the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao fight in 2017.
“After five years of chasing championship glory abroad and fighting in enemy territory, I return home to defend what I have conquered in the boxing world, my world lightweight titles,” Kambosos said.
“Everything I have put my mind to and manifested has come true with my relentless hard work, dedication and discipline to the sport I love. I have always said I would become world champion the hard way, fighting abroad and then bring back a mega stadium fight to make my world title defense.”
With the winner making history and potential record crowd for boxing Down Under, this will be the biggest fight ever held in Australia.
Here are five of the greatest, most significant, performances featuring Australians in boxing history.
Jeff Fenech vs Azumah Nelson I (1991)
Jeff Fenech achieved everything in his boxing career, including winning titles in three weight divisions and being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.
Despite all that, his first fight against Ghanaian Azumah Nelson in Las Vegas still stings.
Over 12 rounds, many believed Fenech had won as many as nine of the rounds and should have been awarded victory.
But it was called a controversial draw, something which still irks Fenech.
“I’m not sure about a rivalry. We had our first fight which had 12 rounds and I can honestly say I think I won 10. The judges gave it a draw, Azumah says he won which is total bull c**p,” he told Sporting News in 2020.
“For anybody to say that after being in a fight and come out like that – in the last round I just knocked him out anyway.
“For him to say he thought he won was disappointing. Anyone I’ve spoken to in the whole world knows I won the Azumah Nelson fight.”
Recently, the WBC even said it was considering retrospectively awarding the fight to Fenech.
Kostya Tszyu vs Zab Judah (2001)
Kostya Tszyu is one of the biggest names in Australian boxing, having claimed several light welterweight titles over his 13-year career between 1992 and 2005.
By 2001, Tszyu had already won and lost the IBF title and was well into his charge to the undisputed status — then requiring the three belts of the IBF, WBA and WBC.
Tszyu claimed the WBC light welterweight title in 1999, followed by the WBA (Super) title in 2001, needing the IBF title which was held by Zab Judah.
Held in Las Vegas, the undefeated Judah was felled in the final seconds of the second round by a huge right hand from Tszyu.
Judah bounced back to his feet but quickly fell over again, leaving referee Jay Nagy no choice but to wave off the fight.
However, Judah didn’t see it that way, putting his glove to the neck of the referee and throwing a stool in disgust.
But the result stood and Tszyu was the first and undisputed lightweight champion of the three-belt era.
Anthony Mundine vs Danny Green I (2006)
Years of sledges led to one of the biggest local grudge matches in Aussie boxing history between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green.
Mundine labeled Green a “parasite” who had been “living off me for years” and a “bum”.
The fight was believed to be the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) event in Australian history as more than 30,000 fans packed out the Sydney Football Stadium.
The pair went the distance after Green began to tire following a fast start. Green had to cut weight as he had been fighting at light heavyweight, dropping down to super middleweight to fight Mundine.
It helped Mundine as the former rugby league star’s speed saw him claim the unanimous decision victory.
The success of the day was seen in the men’s hip pockets as the PPV grossed a reported $20 million.
Both men also went on to win world titles.
Jeff Horn vs Manny Pacquiao (2017)
Jeff Horn was never meant to win against Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in 2017 — and some people would argue that he didn’t at all.
But the former schoolteacher did something truly special in the title fight against the Filipino legend as he packed out Suncorp Stadium and walked away with the WBO title.
The fight has been debated at length since, while the WBO even re-scored the fight, finding Horn won seven rounds to five, despite Pacquiao nearly doubling the number of punches the Aussie landed.
Although Horn defended his belt just once before giving it up to Terence Crawford and finishing his career with three losses in five fights, the Pacquiao fight has gone down in Australian boxing history as it thrust the Queenslander into the public consciousness.
George Kambosos vs Teofimo Lopez (2021)
With what’s in front of Kambosos against Haney, it would be hard to leave him off this list.
The world believed Lopez was the next big thing after he defeated Vasyl Lomachenko, taking the WBA (Super) and WBO belts along with his IBF title.
And he was expected to make short work of a little-known Aussie named George Kambosos, who had been given the mandatory shot in New York.
Lopez was promising a first round KO but was knocked down by Kambosos in an incredible turn of events.
Lopez settled into the fight and earned a knockdown in round 10 but Kambosos showed his warrior qualities, winning the last two rounds and being given a split decision victory in a monumental upset.
It was a result which has given Kambosos a shot at history at home.