top of page

Astounding Aussies: George Kambosos Jr. and the Greatest Australian Boxers of All Time

This Saturday, July 22, George Kambosos Jr. faces Britains Maxi Hughes at the Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma,as he looks to get back on the road to a shot at the world lightweight titles he once held so proudly.

Kambosos, from Sydney etched his name alongside the all-time-great fighters from Down Under when he upset the odds to defeat Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden in November of 2021.

Although he came up short against pound for pound star Devin Haney for Undisputed glory on two separate occasions last year, he now has a chance to put that disappointment behind him in the Sooner State this weekend and push towards his opportunity to call himself a two-division world champion.

In this article, we will take a look at four of the greatest Australian fighters of all time, and the men that Kambosos will surely find himself standing shoulder to shoulder with if he can get his hands on 135-pound world titles once again.

Kostya Tszyu [31-2, 25 KO’s]

Kostya Tszyu was born in Russia, and represented the Soviet Union as an amateur, but upon moving to Australia in 1992, he turned professional the same year and represented his new homeland in the paid ranks.

Tszyu faced quality opposition early on, defeating the former WBC featherweight champion Juan Laporte in just his fourth professional fight. He also outpointed another previous titlist Livingstone Bramble to register his tenth victory, and it looked like the sky was the limit for him.

The first world title of Tszyu’s career came in 1995, when he stopped Jake Rodriguez in Las Vegas to win the IBF light-welterweight strap. Five defences followed, including a win against Roger Mayweather, before Tszyu suffered the first major setback of his exciting career, losing to American Vince Phillips in 1997.

That would go on to be the last defeat Tszyu suffered for the next eight years, as he went on to unify the 140-pound division, winning the WBC, WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine titles and registering victories against the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez and Zab Judah.

The last fight of Tszyu’s career came when he travelled to Manchester, England in 2005, and, as a favourite, was forced to retire on his stool by an inspired Ricky Hatton, who himself was backed by a ferocious and partisan crowd at the MEN Arena.

The Tszyu family legacy is still thriving in boxing, as Kostya’s son, Tim Tszyu, is currently an exciting and undefeated hopeful who is on the brink of a world title shot at junior middleweight himself.

Lionel Rose [42-11, 12 KO’s]

Turning professional back in 1964 at the age of just 16, Lionel Rose became the first indigenous Australian to win a world title when he defeated the legendary Japanese fighter Fighting Harada to pick up the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine bantamweight titles in 1968.

He defended his crown on numerous occasions, registering impressive wins against the likes of Takao Sakurai, Chucho Castillo and Alan Rudkin, before he was finally dethroned by the phenomenal Mexican Ruben Olivares in 1969.

Unfortunately Rose was unable to recapture his world championship form, losing nine more times, and retiring from the ring for good in 1976 following a brief and unsuccessful comeback.

Lionel Rose passed away in 2011 at the age of 68.

Jeff Fenech [29-3-1, 21 KO’s]

Jeff Fenech didn’t take long to win the first of his many world titles, defeating Satoshi Shingaki in just his seventh professional outing to claim the IBF bantamweight crown in 1985.

He would go on to collect gold in a further two weight divisions, super bantamweight and featherweight, before entering into the rivalry with a fellow great Azumah Nelson that would define a large part of his legacy.

The trilogy didn’t go as planned for Fenech, however, as following a drawn first bout between both men, Nelson would travel behind enemy lines to stop the Australian in Melbourne in eight rounds back in 1992.

The final fight of the rivalry would surprisingly come sixteen years later, when in 2008, Fenech was lured from the serenity of retirement to face his old foe, and finally prevailed, winning a 10 round decision against the African.

It was the final fight of his legendary career, and Fenech was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.

Johnny Famechon [56-5-6, 20 KO’s]

Like another entry on this list, Kostya Tszyu, Famechon wasn’t actually born in Australia, but rather France, and moved to Australia at a young age.

He would become the greatest defensive fighter in Australias fighting history, winning Australian and Commonwealth titles, before he became featherweight world champion in 1969, when he defeated Jose Legra to claim the famous green and gold WBC title.

He would go on to defend the strap twice, in a pair of classic encounters against the legendary Japanese fighter Fighting Harada, before succumbing to the equally brilliant Mexican Vicente Saldivar in the final contest of his iconic career in 1970.

Famechon passed away in August 2022 at the age of 77.

bottom of page