GEORGE Kambosos Jr, the man who beat the man who beat the man, defends his status as boxing’s #1 lightweight champion in front of a capacity home crowd at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia this weekend.
American Devin Haney, the prodigious leading contender for the 135lb jewels, will meet him in the ring in a pick ‘em fight that has divided boxing.
In one corner you have the new and defending champion, with a bloodline that dates back to the Spartans, Kambosos is all action, relentless and rugged, just like his ancestors from Ancient Greece.
While in the visiting corner, Haney is stylish, bullish and as brash as they come. An unbeaten teenage fighting prodigy who grew up in the gyms of Las Vegas, he turned pro at 16 down in Mexico and has overcome it all.
So, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? On Sunday morning, Down Under, we are going to find out.
‘Ferocious’ George rebranded as ‘The Emperor’ in November when he shocked boxing by outpointing Teofimo Lopez at Madison Square Garden to climb aboard the lightweight division.
Lopez had taken the crown away from Vasyl Lomachenko in his previous outing in an upset of his own. But he was no match from Kambosos in his maiden defence of the belts.
This was such a big moment in the fight! Lopez (as he said) tried to end it in the first round and was battering Kambosos who held his feet and said “Not tonight!” – I love this sport! @daznboxing ❤️ pic.twitter.com/8z7YJX50ne
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) November 28, 2021
The 28-year-old Aussie seized the moment and with one 12-round performance went from being simply Manny Pacquiao’s Aussie sparring partner to champion of the world.
Unsurprisingly, his fame exploded back in Australia and Kambosos made his intentions clear: He would face any of the top contenders next – just as long as it took place on home soil.
Former champ Lomachenko was first to answer The Emperor’s demands, but after his home country of Ukraine was invade by Russia, the biggest star in the division was out.
That opened the door for Haney who, to his credit, insisted all that needed to be done was for the names to be changed on the contract and he would take the fight.
In reality, Haney has had to sacrifice far more than he ever imagined to oppose Kambosos.
George Kambosos Jr and Devin Haney exchange words in a heated first face-off ahead of their undisputed lightweight world title fight on Saturday night…[🎥 @TRBoxing]pic.twitter.com/BMWNERbeIu
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) May 30, 2022
Not only has he had to sign a deal with promoter’s Top Rank, he’s also agreed to an immediate rematch should he win and he’ll make the walk without his father and coach for the first time in his career, who due to an old felony charge hasn’t been granted a visa to travel.
Yet despite the adversity Haney has faced just to get here, the 23-year-old remains favourite for victory, which speaks volumes about his ability once the bell goes.
Both unbeaten, Kambosos is 20-0 and Haney 27-0, there is no blueprint for either man to follow. But as long as skill overrides will, then technical advantageous Haney surely has the edge.
However, in front of 50,000+ vociferous Aussie countrymen I’m expecting something special from the 28-year-old champion. He won’t go quietly; he won’t simply be outboxed. He will set a pace that even a fighter as talented as Haney will struggle to live with.
Will tempo and pressure from the champion be enough? Or will the skill and desire of the challenger prove decisive? It’s as tough a fight to call as any so far this year.