Kambosos laps up awkward stare-down ahead of title bout

Justin Chadwick |

Vasiliy Lomachenko (l) and George Kambosos (r) stared at each other for three minutes and 20 secs.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (l) and George Kambosos (r) stared at each other for three minutes and 20 secs.

Australian George Kambosos says he was prepared to lock eyes with Vasiliy Lomachenko for hours after the legends engaged in one of the most awkward boxing stare-downs in recent memory.

Kambosos and Lomachenko face off for the IBF lightweight world title in front of a sellout crowd at RAC Arena in Perth on Sunday.

And if Thursday’s lengthy locking of eyes is anything to go by, the bout is going to be a cracker.

The veterans stared at each other for three minutes and 20 seconds, with even former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne failing in his bid to separate them.

“I wasn’t sure what to do,” Browne said. 

“I was looking at everyone saying, ‘Should I jump in?’. Hopefully I got myself on the TV coverage for that.”

Neither boxer was willing to be first to look away despite Browne’s intervention and it was left to Kambosos’s dad Jim and Lomachenko’s manager Egis Klimpull to keep the boxers apart.

Kambosos has vowed to end Lomachenko’s glittering career with the prolonged stare-down adding extra drama.

“It’s those small little victories you have and I took that,” Kambosos told AAP.

“We really locked eyes between each other. It was good to see how far he was willing to go, and he knows how far I’m willing to go.

“He was trying to be tough at the start, but then the face was moving, he was moving around and I could see that he was slowly thinking to himself, ‘Hurry up, look away please’.

“I’m like, ‘I’ve got all day’.

“I would have stood there all day, no problem for me.”

George Kambosos in action.
Kambosos (left) will take on Lomachenko at the RAC Arena in Perth on Sunday. (HANDOUT/TOP RANK)

Lomachenko, a three-division world champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist, was more than happy to play along.

“This wasn’t the first time that I’ve stayed too long on the face-off. If he wants to play, then OK, I’m ready,” he told Main Event.

Lomachenko, a keen fisherman, is enjoying his first visit to Australia.

The 36-year-old Ukrainian even had the chance to hold a koala.

“It looks like a cat with a dog,” Lomachenko joked.

For Kambosos, it’s all been about taking care of business.

And with Australia not having a current male world boxing champion, the heat is on the Sydneysider to produce the goods. 

“I’m not thinking about anyone else than Lomachenko. I’ve been obsessed with this guy,” Kambosos said.

“This is all I’ve thought about. I like to fish too … (but) I’ve not thought about fishing.

“I’ve not thought about koalas. I’ve never held a koala in my life and I’m Australian.

“I’m just so focused on this man here and that’s why I’ve prepared so well.

“When I beat Lomachenko there will be no more road for him to go, so this is retirement for him.”

George Kambosos shows off his world title belts in 2021.
Kambosos shot to fame when he won the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight belts in 2021. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)

Kambosos (21-2, 10KOs) shot to international fame in 2021 when he won the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight belts by stunning Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden.

The 30-year-old’s career took a major blow when he twice lost to Devin Haney in 2022, but he feels a win over Lomachenko will cement his passage into boxing’s Hall of Fame. 

Lomachenko (17-3, 11KOs) is a legend of the sport, having compiled a remarkable 396-1 record at amateur level.