After being dominated twice by Devin Haney, former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos looks to get back into the win column on Saturday night when he faces Maxi Hughes. The fight is Kambosos' first step in his attempt to battle back toward the heights he reached with his 2021 win over Teofimo Lopez.
The win over Lopez secured Kambosos the WBO, WBA and IBF lightweight titles. By scoring the massive upset, Kambosos found himself in an unexpected position of power and was able to use that power to make any potential challengers travel to his home country of Australia to challenge for his titles.
The initial plan was for Kambosos to face former unified champ Vasiliy Lomachenko. That fell through when Lomachenko remained in Ukraine to aid in his country's defense against the Russian invasion. Haney then stepped in, putting his WBC title on the line in a bout to crown an undisputed champion.
Haney was simply too talented for Kambosos, spoiling Kambosos' night in front of a packed crowd in Docklands Stadium in Melbourne. Kambosos had used his leverage ahead of the first bout to ensure the rematch would also take place in Australia, giving Haney a chance to again dominate Kambosos in front of his countrymen.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.
Kambosos will not be in Australia on Saturday night, instead fighting in Shawnee, Oklahoma. And the only title that will be on the line is the lightly-regarded IBO championship. Despite those obvious downgrades, the fight with Hughes is a big risk for Kambosos.
"I've never been the kind of fighter who says, 'Oh, I've got a loss. It's taken my confidence away.' I lost to Devin Haney. I think the boxing world has forgotten that he's the only guy I've lost to," Kambosos said at the final press conference. "I've got to remind them again. We have learned a lot. And we have worked on a lot. But the biggest thing is that I've become a greedy motherf----- now. I'm going to take advantage of every hole there is."
Hughes does not possess much knockout power, having only stopped five opponents across 33 professional bouts. He is, however, a slick and tricky boxer who is riding a seven-fight winning streak and has been positioned to climb higher up the more meaningful rankings in the sport.
Hughes beat former world champion Kid Galahad in his most recent outing, arguably the best win of Hughes' career. There would be no doubt that a win over Kambosos would overtake that as the best of Hughes' career.
"The preparation has gone very well. My training team has been together for five years. After my last fight in September, I gave myself a week off and went back to the gym," Hughes said. "I'm a full-time professional. That's my job. I don't just train for fights. I train and learn all the time. And then in February, we got the deal done with George. Since then, George's face and name has been imprinted in my brain. Preparation went well and I'm very confident."
Kambosos vs. Hughes fight card, odds
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
|George Kambosos -370||Maxi Hughes +290||Lightweight|
|Keyshawn Davis -3000||Francesco Patera +1300||Lightweight|
|Giovani Santillan -1400||Erick Bone +800||Welterweight|
Kambosos looked terrific against Lopez in a fight where he'd beaten Lopez mentally before they ever stepped in the ring. Lopez then fought like a guy who did not respect his opponent's skills and paid the price. Everything about that fight was Lopez playing into Kambosos' hands. Haney was not that same situation and Kambosos, for all his skills, does often struggle with fighters who approach bouts in a more tactical way. You have to go back to June 2019 to find a Kambosos win by anything other than a split decision.
Hughes is not going to be an aggressive fighter running into Kambosos' shots without defensive responsibility. This is likely a fight that comes down to who is able to make the better adjustments after the first few rounds. The possibility for an upset is very high here but even going 1-2 over the stretch, Kambosos has been preparing at a higher level and dealing with better opponents that should make him more equipped to edge out a narrow victory. Pick: Kambosos via MD