George Kambosos is looking forward to a ferocious Garden party.
The unbeaten rising lightweight contender makes his debut at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden, facing his toughest test on paper as he meets former lightweight titlist Mickey Bey this Saturday. The bout will stream live on ESPN+, in supporting capacity to a title fight doubleheader to air live on ESPN’s flagship station.
Terence Crawford headlines the show in a mandatory welterweight title defense versus Egidijus Kavialauskas. It’s the evening’s co-feature, however, that not only piques the interest of Australia’s Kambosos but also has him highly motivated to make an impression of his growing American fan base. Ghana’s Richard Commey (29-2, 27KOs) defends his lightweight belt versus unbeaten Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11KOs)
It’s also why he demanded an accomplished opponent such as Cleveland’s Bay (23-2-1, 11KOs), a former amateur standout and one-time lightweight titlist.
“When I first signed with [DiBella Entertainment], our plan was to fight a Top 10 guy,” Kambosos Jr. (17-0, 10KOs) told BoxingScene.com of his time with Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella, who along with rising industry power player Peter Kahn secured his place on Saturday’s show as he also promotes Commey. “We pushed for a big fight on this show. There were three other guys who turned down this fight. Mickey Bey’s name popped as someone to go after, within two seconds we said ‘Let’s go.’
“That’s one thing that needs to be clear—it’s not the other way around, that he was offered to us and we had to think about it. We wanted to fight him. We offered hin the fight.”
The 26-year old from Sydney fights for the third time in the United States and the fifth straight time on the road after having spent his first 13 fights in his native Australia. Wins over Jose Forero and Rey Perez comprise of his time spent in the United States, while also fighting in Malaysia and most recently this past July in Greece, where he was able to honor his ancestor’s heritage.
“This kid is a pleasure to promote,” DiBella told BoxingScene.com. “He’s a tough Aussie kid, with Greek roots. He speaks Greek and looked great fighting in Greece. He’s a high output guy, he’s all action. For anyone who’s going to be at Madison Square Garden when he’s in the ring, they are not going to be disappointed.”
Of course, there still comes the task of not only beating a fighter of Bey’s ilk, but also looking good against such a fighting style. Bey has fought just once since conceding his lightweight title to Rances Barthelemy in 2016, scoring a 1st round knockout in an attempted rust shake last October. Still, he’s proven over his 14-plus year career to be a tough out for anyone who’s crossed his path, particularly a title-winning effort over Miguel Vazquez in 2014 and even in barely losing out in a June 2016 attempted title defense versus Barthelemy.
“This isn’t some soft showcase,” insists DiBella. “This is a very difficult fight. It’s also a big opportunity for George to have a coming out party. I’m a big believer in his upside. He’s a rugged, high output kind of kid, and it says a lot about who he is that he’s the one who demanded this fight.”
It’s the type of fight that Kambosos has demanded really since fighting on the club circuit in the infant stage of his career back home in Australia. There has long existed a desire to challenge himself against the best in the lightweight division, an appetite which only grew during his time spent as a chief sparring partner for eight-division and reigning welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao.
“I’ve gone hundreds of rounds with Manny, I’ve sparred with more than 20 world champions,” notes Kambosos, who has fought on two Pacquiao undercards—last July in Malaysia and this past January on the undercard of Pacquiao’s win over Adrien Broner at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing he will show me that I haven’t already seen with all the champs I’ve been in with.
“I’m ready to put on a show this weekend. This is just another day at the office for me. Mickey Bey is the fight we wanted, we wanted his name on our record. That part doesn’t worry me one bit. All the rounds I’ve gone with Pacquiao, I’ve been in with the best of the best. On Saturday, I’m going to show that I belong among the best. My focus is on Bey, but after I win I plan to have a front row seat and will prepare to challenge the winner of Commey-Lopez.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox