Ask George Kambosos Jnr where he stands in Australian boxing history and his answer is simple: "look at me".
"I'm the greatest fighter in Australian history," Kambosos Jnr said. "That's no disrespect, I've got all the belts."
Two lightweight world championships over his shoulders, one wrapped around his waist, and another in his grasp. In his eyes there is no dispute.
Kambosos Jnr [20-0] has pulled off one of the biggest victories in Australian boxing history by dethroning Teofimo Lopez [16-1] for the unified world lightweight championship at Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theatre on Sunday [AEDT].
The 28-year-old claimed the WBO, IBF, WBA and WBC Franchise lightweight titles with a 115-111, 115-112, 113-114 split decision victory.
Lopez had entered the bout a 13-1 favourite. Though tattooed on Kambosos Jnr's body are the words "never retreat, never surrender". He was reading lines from a different script.
"Did I change all week? Have I changed my whole career? Never. I believed in myself, I backed myself and I said it time after time," Kambosos Jnr said.
"Look at me now, I've got all the jewels. I'm not the king, you've got your four kings, I'm the emperor because I come to every other country and I take them out, one by one."
Few like the bright lights quite as much as Lopez. It was enough to make some question whether the man regarded as one of the best fighters on the planet would overlook a challenger like Kambosos Jnr.
Lopez came out firing but it was the Sydneysider who landed the most telling blow of the opening round, dropping the champion with a perfectly timed overhand right.
I believed in myself, I backed myself and I said it time after time. Look at me now, I've got all the jewels.George Kambosos Jnr
"Cus D'Amato said a great saying when Muhammad Ali fought an unbelievable puncher in Joe Frazier," Kambosos Jnr said.
"Muhammad Ali rang Cus D'Aamato and goes 'what do I do?' He said 'you hit him with the best right hand you've ever thrown in your life, and you change the fight'.
"That's what I did. That's what I had in my head, that mentality. I said 'I'm going to hit this guy clean, hit him hard, and I'm going to put him down'. The fight changed after that."
Kambosos Jnr dominated the middle rounds before Lopez rose to the task and responded with a 10th round knockdown that just about levelled the cards with two rounds remaining.
The Australian says he was guilty of "trying to entertain the fans" when he hit the canvas. Yet again, he rallied. Kambosos Jnr won the final two rounds, and among his prizes were the bout, the belts, and the admiration of a New York crowd.
The "Teo" chants which had rung out around the arena during the fight soon became a distant memory when Lopez claimed he won 10 of the 12 rounds.
"I won tonight and everybody know that. I don't care what anyone says, I won tonight," Lopez said, met with a chorus of boos.
"I ain't no sore loser, I take my wins like I take my losses. At the end of the day I'm a true champion. I came out here, I did what I had to do. I went out there and did my best. I don't care what anybody says, I'm as real as they come. This is the takeover, we don't stop, we keep coming. I won this fight.
"I know how these people work. The referee knew I won tonight, everybody knew I won tonight. I don't believe it was a close fight at all. I believe at the end of it all, I score it 10-2."
Kambosos Jnr could only say what everybody else was thinking.
"You're a bit delusional brother," Kambosos Jnr said. "I got the belts, I won the fight. Look at your face. Take it like a champ, move on. We'll do it again in Australia, 80,000 people, me and you."
Only, the rematch may never come. Lopez may move up to super lightweight, opening the door for Kambosos Jnr to make his first defence against WBC titleholder Devin Haney.
Until then, the newly-minted champion of the world parts with a nod to another Australian boxing great in Jeff Fenech.
"I love youse all."
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