By Thomas Gerbasi
Fighting Manny Pacquiao isn’t an easy task. Whether the Filipino icon is 25, 30 or 40 years old, unless you’re Juan Manuel Marquez, it’s something you probably hope is a one and done proposition.
Try doing it several times a week, far removed from the bright lights of fight night and the big paychecks that go with it. That’s been the lot of lightweight up and comer George Kambosos Jr. during Pacquiao’s camps for Jeff Horn, Lucas Matthysse and now Adrien Broner.
But the unbeaten Sydney product isn’t complaining. And he doesn’t get intimidated.
“Not anymore,” laughed Kambosos, who meets Rey Perez on the Pacquiao-Broner undercard this Saturday in Las Vegas. “Now I’m very comfortable in what I’m doing, and obviously when we spar, it’s incredible. You’ve got two fast, great movers going back and forth. I honestly believe that people would pay money to watch us spar. When I first started sparring Manny, of course I was a little bit nervous and I wanted to prove a point and prove my worth, but now it’s just focusing on the job and obviously the job at hand for my fight, too.”
That’s the important part, isn’t it? Kambosos is getting paid to help prepare Pacquiao for Broner, but he also has his own fight to get ready for, and at 15-0 with 9 knockouts, it’s getting to that time when “Ferocious,” already ranked in the WBO and IBF top 15, starts thinking about his own title fights. How soon?
“To be honest, in my mind, I’m ready right now,” said Kambosos. If they brought a world champ to the fight right now, I’m ready. That’s my confident side and obviously I know my ability and I know what I possess.”
That confident side comes from walking through all comers thus far, but also from his work in the gym with not just Pacquiao, but the other champs, contenders and prospects that make their way through camp.
“I spar Manny Pacquiao, but I’ve sparred so many world champions, guys that are current world champions right now and I know what I’ve done with them. Plus, I’m getting good, solid work with the other sparring partners as well. I’ll finish my rounds with Manny, and the other guys come straight in with me to get my rounds in. I’m getting great work with Lydell Rhodes and Arnold Gonzalez.”
As for the benefits of working with the Pac-Man?
“He’s a legend of the sport,” said Kambosos. “Of anyone I’ve ever sparred or fought, he’s still way faster than any of them. I’ve got to be honest, when I spar him, it improves my defense and it makes me even faster and more explosive. So as much as I’m helping him prepare for the fight, it is helping me a lot as well. With the whole exposure of being Manny Pacquiao’s sparring partner, inside the ring it’s made me a better fighter.”
But handling oneself inside the ring isn’t the whole battle. Being able to deal with everything that happens when the gloves are off is just as important. Kambosos has a good team around him, from promoter Lou DiBella to manager Peter Kahn, and as far as dealing with life in the spotlight, he’s got a front row seat to a show like none other.
“Being around Pacquiao and seeing how crazy it is with all the people around him, three times I’ve done it with him and it’s prepared me for that side of things too,” he said. “As much as I’m learning so much in the ring with him and in training, it’s the outside things as well. He’ll sit there and he’ll talk to every person that comes there and he’ll take photos with everyone, and that’s how I am as well. Away from the whole persona of my fight game – the cocky, brash style that I bring to the fight – outside the ring I’m a cool cat. I’m actually very, very shy when you meet me. But just being around Manny has prepared me for that and we’re ready for that. When my time comes and I become world champion, that’s all part of the game. If you can’t control that, you shouldn’t be a world champion, because that’s part of it.”
Kambosos is already getting a lot of attention back home in Australia, and in his second Stateside appearance, he’s hoping to build his profile even bigger. He’s got the style and the right attitude to make it happen. Now all he needs are the right opportunities. Saturday’s bout is one of those.
“That’s an exciting thing,” Kambosos said. “My name’s growing rapidly here in the U.S. and that’s what we wanted to do. As soon as we got to the U.S., we wanted to make a big splash, and after January 19, make another statement and then it’s gonna get bigger and bigger.”
Bigger and bigger? Yeah, it looks like the direction Mr. Kambosos is heading in.
“This is where I’ve always wanted to be,” he said. “The whole surrounding of it is huge, but at the end of the day I’m a very focused fighter, very dedicated, and I’ve sacrificed a lot to get to this position. January 19th, there’s two men in that ring putting it all on the line. I’m an action-packed fighter, and when I fight, people want to watch. And I know they’re definitely gonna watch January 19th when I step inside that arena.”