Haney again too good, defends undisputed lightweight titles with UD win in Kambosos rematch

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 16: Devin Haney celebrates victory over George Kambosos Jr. in the World Lightweight Championship bout between George Kambosos Jr. of Australia and Devin Haney of the United States at Rod Laver Arena on October 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

He outclassed Kambosos Jr the first time this past summer with minimal trouble. The second time eventually became a bloody, bruising affair but had the same result. Devin Haney, 24 next month, has now defended his undisputed status at lightweight and appears set on one final challenge – perhaps Vasiliy Lomachenko in early 2023 – before moving to light-welterweight.

Haney humbles Kambosos a second time on enemy soil

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 16: Devin Haney and George Kambosos Jr. exchange punches during their World Lightweight Undisputed Championship bout between George Kambosos Jr. of Australia and Devin Haney of the United States at Rod Laver Arena on October 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Both were bleeding late on, though Kambosos’ tactics were quickly sussed out as Haney adjusted

119-109, 118-110, 118-110: Haney bt. Kambosos Jr via UD, still undisputed 135lb champion

  • “I should definitely be on the pound-for-pound rankings, they [critics] said all I have is a jab… now a right hand too, showed how versatile I am. I believe I’m the best in the world — we taking on all comers, whoever’s next, bring them on,” Haney said post-fight
  • Three-weight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko first has to prevail against Jamaine Ortiz on Oct. 29, but Ukrainian star expected to be Haney’s next title defence in new year
  • “I did my best, gave my heart to this sport – three big fights within a year. I’ll be back, it’s not the end… had a great win last year, was on top of the world and faced a top five pound-for-pound fighter,” Kambosos confirms he’ll now take a break before returning

George Kambosos Jr flattered to deceive and was largely frustrating with his tactics last time.

To his credit, the gamely Australian fought better on this occasion and had more memorable moments, though fleeting, as the damage was already done – Devin Haney unloading multiple clean shots, swatting him aside with right-hands and making him visibly overthink his strategy.

Andre Ward described it as disrespectful on commentary. Perhaps so, but this was necessary.

Had he been blessed with devastating one-punch power, he probably would’ve finished it sooner and notched another note on his pursuit for a place on the pound-for-pound list. Instead he went the full twelve, for the sixth consecutive time, after flirting with danger upon occasion.

But, just like their first meeting, Kambosos found himself falling into traps and absorbing jabs aplenty along the way against a better technical boxer. He acknowledged as much, afterwards:

“He gave me a good boxing lesson last time, he’s slick, he’ll be there [at the top] for a long time. We had a fantastic gameplan and this was a much better fight: came out flying, landed big shots and thought here we go, but he adapts – that Mayweather school – he’s a special fighter.”

Timothy Bradley paid attention to Haney’s frequent clinching from the first fight and well, there was more of the same on this occasion. Kambosos started encouragingly in R1, but that approach was never going to last long as both made adjustments to the other’s style.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 16: Devin Haney and George Kambosos Jr. exchange punches during their World Lightweight Undisputed Championship bout between George Kambosos Jr. of Australia and Devin Haney of the United States at Rod Laver Arena on October 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Kambosos landed a few big shots catching Haney clean, but was unable to sustain much momentum

Haney’s tying up again stifled Kambosos’ rhythm as the referee separated them, an approach understandably met by boos from the partisan crowd at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

You could sense those cheering knew their man was fighting a losing battle, but that didn’t stop them trying to gee him up at every possible turn – especially as he gave them the impression this was a more competitive, less one-sided evening than their initial fight four months prior.

The punch stats, per CompuBox, rather speak for themselves.

Haney landed almost three times as many punches (202-76), at almost double the accuracy (42-24%) and peppered his Australian opponent with 80 jabs landing.

He connected on almost 50% of his power punches (114 of 232), while Kambosos was noticeably more aggressive but at a considerable cost – following Haney, rather than trapping him in tight spots and being countered at will whenever they were exchanging punches up close.

Haney reaffirmed what he stressed in the build-up, that he’d show different layers to his game and benefited from the short layoff between championship fights.

“I knew he was looking for the jab, we wanted to show some different tools in our arsenal. My dad wanted me to throw the hook more, but the right-hand was working.

Didn’t expect him to be switching [stances] but I caught onto his angles and timing, started picking my shots more.

He’s a warrior, I take my hat off to him and all the Australian fans who came out. I honoured it [the rematch clause], beat the man twice.”

It’s easy to say and much harder to do. Kambosos spoke about his disdain for those who protect their unblemished records after losing soundly in June and it was unlikely there’d be a different result this time, but nonetheless honourable he tested his mettle against the division’s best.

It would’ve been easy to soak up the acclaim and take a victory lap in Australia after his shock Teofimo Lopez victory 11 months ago. Instead, the 29-year-old was beaten by the better man and there’s no shame in that – provided he learns and comes back stronger for the experience.

As for Haney, he’s leading the standard at 135lbs. It’s now up to other contenders to follow suit, if they want to test him more than Kambosos managed over 24 rounds in this two-fight series.

Picture source: Getty Images — quotes via ESPN broadcast

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