Devin “The Dream” Haney made an 8,000-mile trip to Melbourne, Australia for the chance to cash in on his opportunity to fight for the undisputed lightweight crown. The defending champion George Kambosos Jr. had the advantage of fighting on his home turf as 41,129 fans packed Marvel Stadium. Haney, the 23-year-old boxing prodigy, dethroned the champ as he gave Kambosos Jr. a masterclass for twelve rounds. Haney (28-0, 15 KOs) dictated the pace of the fight as he cruised to an unanimous decision victory. The fight was never in doubt as Haney controlled the majority of the rounds and won’t fight by the official scores of (118-110, 116-112, 116-112).
For George Kambosos Jr. his life took a change for the better in November of 2021 when he stepped into the ring as the underdog to battle Teofimo “The Takeover” Lopez. The crowd at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden was in a state of shock in the first round when Kambosos Jr. connected with a counter right hand that sent Lopez down to the canvas. Kambosos Jr. used his counter punching effectively to bank the majority of the early rounds. Lopez stormed back in the second half of the fight, and he was able to score a knockdown of his own in the tenth round. The Lopez comeback came up short as Kambosos Jr. won the belts via split decision.
Instead of taking the victory lap and fighting a lesser opponent, Kambosos Jr. made it known that he wanted his first title defense to be held in Australia, and he wanted to fight the best in the 135-pound division. In February of 2022 Vasiliy Lomachenko agreed to a fight with George Kambosos Jr., but a month later Lomachenko withdrew from the fight due to the war between Russia and his native Ukraine. The search for the best of the best at 135 was on again as the name Devin Haney became the prime target. Haney would agree to all of the stipulations and the fight for the unified crown was back on.
Drama was added to the prelude to fight night as Devin Haney’s father/lead trainer Bill Haney’s visa status was denied because of his drug conviction from 30 years ago. However, a few days before the fight, Bill Haney was awarded a last-minute visa.
On fight night Devin Haney had his father Bill by his side as he was moments away from the biggest boxing match of his career. As the DMX song “X Gonna Give It To Ya”, blasted through the stadium, Haney was greeted by a chorus of boos from the fans during the course of his ring walk. The only fan Haney seemed to have in the crowd was NBA star Damian Lillard. The crowd changed their tune from boos to cheers as Kambosos Jr. made his way to the ring. Even though he walked to the ring as the champion, Kambosos Jr. was entering the ring as the underdog.
Once the opening bell sounded, Haney utilized his four-inch reach advantage by firing the jab early and often. The jab enabled Haney to get in rhythm. The well-used jab was disruptive to Kambosos Jr.’s rhythm because every time he got hit with the Haney jab, he had to reset.
As the bell rang to start round 3, you could notice Haney getting the timing down. He continued to use his jab and started to sprinkle in a few combinations. He also used his speed, footwork, and feints to keep Kambosos Jr. off balance. Kambosos Jr. had minimal success landing the overhand right, but he was never able to close the distance to get any significant amount of work done. It was a technical fight that Haney controlled from start to finish. He took away Kambosos Jr’s. best assets and limited him to one punch at a time. Haney didn’t take any unnecessary risks as he boxed and moved around the ring. Once he got the jab going, he added the lead hook and straight right hand. You always hear the old adage styles make fights, and on Saturday night, Haney’s style presented a code that Kambosos Jr. couldn’t crack.
In the end, the 23-year-old Haney won the unified title by way of an unanimous decision. “I handicapped him. He wanted to land the overhand right and the big left hook. I handicapped him. I was fighting both ways. When I would go to the left I would fight his right hand. When I would go to the right I would fight his hook. He couldn’t land either one of them,” Haney said after the fight.
Back in March when Haney agreed to take the fight, he also agreed to a multitude of stipulations. One of the stipulations he agreed to was to give George Kambosos Jr. (20-1, 10 KOs) a rematch, and the rematch would take place in Australia. When asked if he would invoke the rematch clause, Kambosos Jr. responded by saying “Yes 100% we’ll do it again. He grabbed and held a lot and he did what he had to do to win. That’s what it’s about. You do what you have to do to win, and today they gave him the decision, but I’m sure it will change when we get it on again. This is going to make me hungrier.”
George Kambosos Jr. has a hunger and an appetite for a rematch, but the question is does the boxing public share the same hunger for a replay of Haney-Kambosos? The fight had no drama, the scorecards weren’t close, and judging by the eye test, Haney’s boxing skills are just a level above Kambosos Jr. It’s very difficult to see what Kambosos Jr. could do to change the results. If he possessed one-punch knockout power then maybe a rematch would be something fans would look forward to, but unfortunately, Kambosos Jr. doesn’t possess the one-punch magic in his arsenal. Aside from the boxing public, boxers such as Errol Spence, Sergio Mora, and Badou Jack posted on social media to comment on a rematch being unnecessary.
Despite the fact that Devin Haney could have so many exciting options in regards to his first title defense, it seems like we will have to wait through an undesirable rematch. In all fairness Kambosos Jr. did give Haney his dream shot, and now it’s only fair that Haney gives Kambosos Jr. a chance for vindication.