Throughout the final press conference ahead of George Kambosos Jr.’s lightweight unification bout against Devin Haney, there was an unusual presence lurking around the back: Melbourne Storm star Brandon Smith.
With the Storm enjoying a bye weekend due to the Origin next Wednesday, Smith will sit ringside for the bout at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
A self-confessed fanatic of the sport, the Kiwi revealed that Kambosos Jr. reached out to him to enjoy breakfast with himself and his father Jim at their hotel before the press conference at the Richmond Rowing Club.
However, this isn’t a relationship that developed in recent days between a boxing fan in Smith and a rugby league fan in Kambosos Jr.
In fact, it began a few years ago when the champ sent a congratulatory message to Smith after the Storm won the 2020 NRL Grand Final against the Penrith Panthers.
“When we won the grandie (grand final), he sent me a message on Instagram,” Smith told foxsports.com.au.
“Then we stayed in contact. I wished him all the best for his fight and posted a lot of stuff and I think he respected me for that.”
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Being able to see the hype and fanaticism that Kambosos Jr. has generated all on his own has been a delightful experience for Smith to witness first-hand.
In fact, the Storm star believes that a victory over Haney would catapult Kambosos Jr. into stardom that could stand the test of time.
“It’s awesome to see George at this massive stage that he deserves,” Smith said.
“He has been in the limelight for f*** all, really. Look at him now.
“It’s probably the biggest boxing event in Australian history. If he wins all the titles, he’s definitely the greatest boxer.
“He probably is the greatest boxer in Australian history. He’s got more belts than most ever had.”
Smith has also watched some of Haney’s previous fights and described the American as a “bloody good boxer” who will provide a “tough” fight for Kambosos Jr.
But ultimately the Kiwi simply could not foresee a conclusion in which the Australian doesn’t have his hand raised.
“I reckon George is going to knock him out in the seventh,” Smith said.
“I think George has power in every round, so I look forward to it.”
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With all of this boxing talk, many will wonder if Smith, who believed that his boxing training as a youngster helped him become one of the best players in the modern game, will lace up the gloves for a proper fight.
The path has already been laid for Smith to follow, with several crossover stars including Paul Gallen and Justin Hodges finding success in the squared circle.
However, Smith shot down any such talk of embarking on a post-footy boxing career.
“No, I don’t think I aspire to be that at the moment,” Smith said.
“I think after my footy career the body won’t hold up as well as some of those boys.
“I’ll stick to my lane at the moment.”
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