KUALA LUMPUR – George Kambosos hopes the friendship he has forged with Manny Pacquiao will help heal the wounds inflicted by the full-blown brawl that marred the Fiba World Cup qualifier between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia.
Pacquiao's 25-year-old Aussie sparmate admit the 'crazy' July 2 brawl at the Philippine Arena opened old wounds from a year ago following the bitter loss of Pacquiao to Australian Jeff Horn in their welterweight title fight.
“When I came to (training) camp and sparred with him, I made friends with him and start to build that bridge together,” said Kambosos, who was also the sparring partner of the 39-year-old boxing great when he fought Horn in Brisbane.
“Unfortunately, that bridge has been broken again.”
Kambosos, who sees action in the undercard of the Pacquiao-Lucas Matthysse World Boxing Association (WBA) title match this weekend, was already in General Santos City when the Gilas-Boomers melee broke out.
A total of 13 players – nine Filipinos and four Aussies – were ejected in the match won by the visitors, 89-53, with FIBA expected to hand out heavy sanctions and possible suspensions to all personalities involved.
Kambosos briefly talked with Pacquiao about the ‘basketbrawl’ the following day at training.
“Yeah, he (Pacquiao) shouted out the next day and said what happened,” recalled the unbeaten Australian (14-0, 8 KOs), who also got a lot of messages from worried family and friends back home following the incident.
“Everyone was asking me, ‘Are you okay?’" he said. “But I’m friends with Manny Pacquiao, so there’s no problem with me.
“The two Australians Filipinos love are George Kambosos and Justine Fortune,” he laughed.
Time heals all wounds and Kambosos believes anger over the Gilas-Boomers incident will also come to pass.
“That’s in the past (now). I’m sure the relationship will be better in the future,” said Kambosos, who will take on Filipino JR Magboo in an eight-rounder at the Axiata Arena this Sunday.
He also has a piece of advice to all the players who were involved in the melee.
“One thing the basketball players will have to do when they go for punches, they’ve got to learn how to fight because it’s pretty terrible,” he said laughing.
And oh, Kambosos said he doesn’t play hoops like Pacquiao.
“I’m no very good,” he said. “Manny loves to shoot hoops in training camp and when he passed me the ball, it goes the wrong way.”