Jeff Fenech rates George Kambosos Jr’s upset win over Teofimo Lopez as perhaps the greatest by any Australian boxer but has warned his legacy will be defined by what comes next.
Despite winning the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and The Ring magazine lightweight titles last November, Kambosos Jr can’t yet be considered one of Australia’s top 10 greatest fighters, according to Aussie boxing legend Fenech.
As Kambosos prepares for his date with destiny in his highly-anticipated unification bout against WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, Fenech used the example of Buster Douglas – who scored a famous upset win over Mike Tyson in 1990 – as a cautionary tale.
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“No disrespect to George, but he’s just won the title,” Fenech told foxsports.com.au.
“That’s one fight. What did Buster Douglas do after it? Who knows Buster Douglas? He’s remembered for winning one fight. George doesn’t want to be remembered for winning one fight. Let’s not put the cart before the horse and let him win some fights before we’re going to start saying he’s as good as anybody.
“He’s won one fight against a guy (Lopez) who totally underrated him, who was totally, when you look at him, underprepared.
“But that’s not George’s problem, all you can do is beat who’s in front of you and George has done that. So it was an amazing, amazing performance.
“The journey he’s been on has been one of the toughest journeys, I take my hat off to him, I totally bow to the kid, I love what he’s done, but let’s not get overly carried away yet.”
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Fenech — a former WBC featherweight, WBC super bantamweight and IBF bantamweight champion — was typically colourful in his giving his perspective on one of boxing’s greatest upsets.
“When Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson, I know Mike Tyson, I’m his friend, I trained him, he was (with) five girls a day,” Fenech said.
“I was in America when Teofimo Lopez was there. Well apparently as you know now because of George, George was telling us that Devin Haney was saying all the problems that Teofimo had, so he had problems.”
Fenech, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002, cautioned Kambosos against overconfidence and said he should be striving to earn the respect of the boxing world.
“Remember this – Jeff Fenech defended his bantamweight title three times and never lost it, I went up to super bantamweight and defended it three times and never lost it, I went up to featherweight and defended it three times and never lost it, then I really won a fourth world title against one of the greatest fighters in history (Azumah Nelson),” Fenech said of his controversially drawn WBC super featherweight title match in Las Vegas in 1991.
“He (Kambosos) can like me, hate me, say he’s better than me. They can have every one of my belts … you know why I don’t need them? Because when I get off the plane, if I see Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis, they all honour me, they all know I can fight, that’s when you know you’ve made it,” Fenech said.
“You don’t make it from one fight, it’s longevity. I bless the kid (Kambosos) because he deserves it, so let him just keep winning and get his accolades as he wins and maybe in two years, I’ll say he’s the greatest ever Australian fighter, but I’m definitely not saying it today, I’m not saying he’s in the top 10 today, because he’s not.
“When you know you’ve made it is when you’re admired by your peers or your peers give you credit, that’s when you’ve made it.
“Sometimes when you over-enjoy, you can get carried away. All of a sudden, here we go, he said he’s unbeatable, he’s a Spartan warrior and then it comes back to bite you on the arse.”
Fenech said he was talking from experience.
“I know why Mike Tyson lost, I know why Azumah Nelson beat me, because I thought I was unbeatable,” Fenech said.
As for Sunday’s fight, Fenech predicted whoever controlled the first two rounds would win.
“If George can take authority of the fight early and make Devin fight his fight, George can definitely win the fight,” Fenech said.
“But if he doesn’t, when I look at Devin Haney, he reminds me of a young ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. He’s got great skills and they only come around once in a long time.”