There’s no sugarcoating it, the four-belt lightweight title unification bout this Saturday between Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. and Las Vegas resident Devin Haney turned out to be a dull, anticlimactic affair.
Hyped to be THE lightweight battle, a veritable super-fight, and augmented in importance by a rabid Australian media and 40,000 raucous fans packed into Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium, the twelve round contest turned out to be a real one-sided snoozer in the American’s favor.
Kambosos, who brought his IBF/WBA/WBO belts to this unification contest, talked a big game in the weeks and days leading up to the fight. When push came to shove, however, the defending 3-belt champ, who took those belts from Teofimo Lopez in a thrilling Fight of the Year-caliber upset last November, was unable to get anything done against the defending WBC champ, Haney.
Stymied by Haney’s sharp jab and movement, Kambosos did little more than follow his opponent around and drop round after round.
Haney didn’t perform brilliantly, but he didn’t have to. The little that he had to unleash from his arsenal was enough to completely nullify Kambosos. At times, the American looked to be performing on cruise control, but, again, that was more than enough to win at least 10 of 12 rounds. It was also enough to make Kambosos look really bad, especially after so much pre-fight tough talk.
Team Kambosos had a rematch clause packaged into the Haney contract, so a Part 2 of this contest is a legal must. The question is whether there’s any interest at all in seeing a sequel to such a one-sided bout.
Kambosos, though, seems eager to revisit the rivalry and, at least initially, somewhat convinced that he did better than he actually did.
“He’s the champion now from what the judges said, and we’ll do it again,” Kambosos said in the post-fight interview. “I felt the fight was very close…I out-landed him, and I out-punched him
“He had a jab, but there wasn’t much else…He might have landed one or two right hands, but that’s about it. There wasn’t really nothing else. I don’t feel like I was in a 12-round war.”
The now-former champ would go on to distance himself from the reality of the loss in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I felt when I landed my punches he was hurt every time. But the ref didn’t give us any help with the holding. I’m not going to take anything away from him,” Kambosos said. “He just did what he does: he taps and runs. Very boring. I wanted to give this crowd a great fight, I tried my best. Any time it got hard for him, he held a lot. The referee should’ve warned him. I wasn’t frustrated, but the ref should have done his job
“It’s been a long time [since I lost a fight]. But how can I feel sad when the guy didn’t want to fight? It wasn’t like I got beat up. I’m not hurt at all. I feel like I’ve had half a fight– it was boring”
“I’d fight tomorrow if I could…I have to be aware of his holding. I have to be aware of changing my angles. Be a little bit sharper. I was off pace with a few things. Anyway…I’ll come back.”
From Haney’s side, there didn’t seem to be the least bit of reluctance in honoring the rematch clause. After this first bout, they don’t seem at all worried about what Kambosos brings to the ring.
“Did you just see that?” Haney’s father and trainer Bill Haney responded to the prospect of an immediate rematch. “Did you just see that?! How many times– listen, 10 out of 10 times, he’s gonna beat him 10 out of 10 times. It don’t matter, it’s up to (Devin), he’s the boss. But I picked [Kambosos] as [opponent] No. 28 and I’d pick him as No. 29.”