The Weekender

Promo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

In a huge fight tonight in Melbourne, Australia all the world lightweight (9st,9lbs/135lb) straps are up for grabs when homeboy George Kambosos Jr. faces American Devin Haney.

The 28 year old Kambosos (20-0, 10 KO’s) is a unified champion and recognised as The Ring magazine champion having beaten previously undefeated Teofimo Lopez in a stand out victory last year. Haney (27-0, 15 KO’s) brings his WBC title to the ring. It’s a brilliant clash of styles with the aggressive Australian facing a slick, well schooled American. The fight will be staged in the Marvel Arena before a capacity 60,000 crowd.

Kambosos has been a road warrior in recent years finally getting his shot at the titles in the US and seizing with both hands. Lopez was tipped to be the next big star in boxing on beating Ukrainian pound-for-pounder Vasiliy Lomachenko, but Kambosos tore up the script winning a deserved split decision in The Ring’s upset of 2021.

The Australian, self proclaimed ‘Emperor’ with Greek heritage, is now a major celebrity in his sports mad homeland and hoping to build on the outstanding fistic legacies of fellow Aussies Jimmy Carruthers, Lionel Rose, Jeff Fenech and adopted hero Kostya Tszyu.

On the prospect of making his first defence in front of his compatriots Kambosos said “It’s great to be be back home. Five years of hard work…I had to go through every bit of adversity. I had to earn my belts…the hardest way…I know the stadium will be buzzing with my support…It’s a great moment for Australian boxing and I am very excited”.

Haney, 23, enters the contest extremely confident in his own abilities, buoyed by his undefeated record and recent impressive victories. He has a win over multi-weight champ Jorge Linares and last time out beat Joseph ‘Jojo’ Diaz in a comprehensive points victory. In a fight week press conference he said “There’s nothing he can do in the ring that’s better than me, and I will show that on fight night. I take nothing away from him. I think he’s a good fighter, but I just think I’m on a whole different level”.

Big overnight news was Kambosos’ failure to make the stipulated weight at first attempt, being .36 of a pound over, and returning to the scales 75 minutes later to finally successfully weigh in. Kambosos claimed this was a tactic to unsettle his opponent, but this is unlikely and could be a factor if weight draining has become an issue for the unified champion. Haney weighed in 134.9lbs at his first attempt.

The Australian has all the tools to win on the night with sound boxing skills backed up by respectable power. We liken this fight to Barry McGuigan v Bernard Taylor in the mid 1980’s, with the American having the superior skills but being overwhelmed by the Aussie’s early intensity and a rabid, vocal home support down the stretch. We just give Kambosos the edge with the benefit of this support carrying him home to a wafer thin points victory.

The contest and solid support card is co-promoted by Top Rank Inc, DiBella Entertainment and the fighter’s promotional companies and is available live in the UK on Sky Sports from 02:00 BST Sunday. It is being shown in the USA on ESPN (9pm ET).

Earlier Saturday night (UK time) from Cardiff, Wales will be the world IBF junior-lightweight (9st,4lb/130lbs) title fight between Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa and Wales’ challenger Joe Cordina.

The 34 year old champion has an excellent 26-1-1 (18 KO’s) record and will be looking to cash in on his title as he enters the back end of his career. He’s mostly fought in Japan, but with a couple of fights stateside, should not be intimidated by the expected hostile local crowd in the Motorpoint Arena.

For Cordina (14-0, 8 KO’s), now 30 years old, it’s a ‘put up or shut up’ fight. He’s been a pro for a six years since representing Team GB in the Rio Olympics and, although still retains an undefeated record, this will be his first step up to an elite level. The Welshman said pre-fight “I’m at that world level. I’ve sparred plenty of world champions and I’ve been in with some tough guys…I’ve also got a great boxing brain…I can think my way around the fight and get that win on Saturday”. Ogawa has promised a very aggressive approach and to be victorious on the night.

Cordina has the youth, skills and world experience as an amateur to make this a difficult night for the Japanese. If he can work behind his solid defence for the earlier part of the fight, we see him making the fight extremely competitive and ultimately just eeking out a victory in another close fight won by the hometown fighter.

The contest and card are promoted by Matchroom Boxing and available on the DAZN streaming platform.

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