Boxing: Lomachenko unruffled by brash Kambosos ahead of world title fight

AFP , Saturday 11 May 2024

Ukrainian boxing great Vasiliy Lomachenko brushed aside rival George Kambosos' taunts of sending him into "retirement" ahead of their lightweight world title fight on Sunday in Perth.

Vasiliy Lomachenko
Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko has won two Olympic gold medals and is also regarded as the greatest ever amateur boxer having compiled an incredible 396-1 record. Photo: AP

 

The 36-year-old Lomachenko (17-3, 11 knockouts) is in the twilight of a glittering career that boasts three division professional world titles and two Olympic gold medals.

He's also regarded as the greatest ever amateur having compiled an incredible 396-1 record.

Lomachenko is a heavy favourite to claim the vacant IBF lightweight world title, but will have to contend with the brash Australian who will have a sold-out 15,000 crowd right behind him at an expected febrile RAC Arena.

"When I beat Lomachenko, there'll be no more road for him to go," the heavily tattooed Kambosos told reporters during the week.

"This is retirement for him, I truly believe it."

Lomachenko was unruffled by former champion Kambosos' barbs, but remained coy over his future.

"I have heard this not for the first time. I am not surprised. We will see what happens," he said.

"Nobody knows (about his future). I don't know what will happen after this fight and how my body will be."

Both fighters have a point to prove after mixed results in recent years.

Lomachenko failed in his bid to become the undisputed lightweight champion after a contentious unanimous decision loss to American Devin Haney in Las Vegas last year.

Kambosos shocked the world in 2021 after stunning Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden in one of boxing's biggest upsets.

But he crashed back to earth after consecutive losses to Haney prompted critics to dub Kambosos a one-hit wonder.

An unconvincing and controversial win over England's Maxi Hughes last year did little to alter his reputation.

A motivated Kambosos (21-2, 10 knockouts) believes victory over Lomachenko, once considered the world's best pound-for-pound boxer, will finally cement his legacy.

At 5-foot-9 (1.75m), he is two inches taller than his opponent and also considerably younger at 30 years of age.

Kambosos and Lomachenko were comfortably under the 135-pound limit at Saturday's weigh-in ahead of a 12-round showdown that has been a long time coming.

After plans in 2019 failed to materialise, a slated fight three years later was scuppered when Lomachenko returned home to his family due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The anticipation boiled over during the week when Lomachenko and Kambosos had to be separated after two stare-downs that lasted more than three minutes each.

They were particularly intense square offs even in a sport known for its theatrics.

"This is destiny. This is the path for both of us," Kambosos said. "The speed that I have ... he's never seen this kind of speed and explosive power.

"I've prepared extremely hard for this fight. I've left no stone unturned. I want this bad."

There are two world title fights on Sunday's undercard.

Australia's Andrew Moloney and Mexican Pedro Guevara will duel for the interim WBC super flyweight belt, while England's Nina Hughes faces Australian Cherneka Johnson in the women's WBA bantamweight battle.

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