Former unified lightweight world champ George Kambosos Jr. finished Saturday’s bout at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia a bloody mess. He also finished the bout in defeat, once again bested decisively by Devin Haney, who took his belts the last time they met in June.
But, believe it or not, even with a face that looked like raw hamburger meat and another “L” on his won-loss record, he actually did significantly better this time around against the talented American.
Handcuffed and frustrated in his first try at beating Haney, the Aussie battler pushed harder this time around, forced Haney to open up and win his respect. Even when it became obvious that he had nothing in his arsenal that could turn the tide of the bout, he still kept pushing, trying. He fought defiantly and with a chip on his shoulder after taking a load of criticism for a perceived lack of fire in the first Haney bout. That’s why, despite a second straight unanimous decision loss (that was actually wider on the judges’ scorecards than the first Haney fight), Kambosos’ stock actually went up.
The lightweight division is currently top-heavy with talent and there should be several big fight options for him down the road.
The biggest opportunity, though, may come in the not-too-distant future when the bursting-at-the-seams 23-year-old Haney outgrows the 135 lb. division. When the unified champ finally moves up in weight, all four of his belts will be up for grabs and Kambosos will be among the top contenders with the opportunity to grab one or more.
“I don’t know how much more time he has at 135. He’s big, he’s rangy, he’s a good fighter,” said Kambosos Jr. at the post-fight press conference last Saturday night.
“I think he might move to 140,” Kambosos said regarding Haney. “God willing, that opens some doors for us. I’m a big, big name. I showed that warrior spirit. You lose a fight, but you bounce back. I will be champion again. This is not the end. There are some big fights out there for me.”
When asked about his efforts in his second try at Haney, Kambosos was characteristically frank.
“I gave it my all. I had a fantastic camp, no excuses. We could have taken some easy fights and milked it a bit, but we took the risk. I believe with my speed, and my counter punching, the smart aggression, anyone at 135, I’d have competed and give them a hell of a fight.
“I think I need to rest,” said Kambosos when asked if he thinks he can fight his way back to the top of the boxing food chain. “I had three big fights in a year. I had Teofimo Lopez in a war, and obviously me and Haney in the first fight, which wasn’t a war, and this fight, another war.”
Kambosos still has name value, especially in his native Australia. As a contender, he also retains some high-end legitimacy on the back of his November, 2021 upset victory over Teofimo Lopez to become unified champ, as well as his victories over Lee Selby and Mickey Bey. A rest, a couple of tune-up bouts, and the ability to keep his name in the headlines should set up things nicely for another run at a world title in the coming couple of years.
If/when “Ferocious” George Kambosos gets back to the big time in a main stage, world title bout, it would be unwise to count him out.
The hard part will be getting himself to that opportunity when his name and former champ status promise to put a big target on his back. Lower-level pugs and young prospects looking to make a name for themselves by beating the former champ will be aching for a piggyback ride to next-level stardom.
We shall see if Kambosos can will his way back to the very top.