A new lightweight king was crowned in Melbourne, Australia when Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney comprehensively outboxed George Kambosos Jr over twelve rounds on Saturday night.
The contest took place in the city’s Marvel Stadium and the American put in a superhero performance. He kept his opponent and the capacity crowd subdued for most of the contest taking control from the opening bell and working off a solid jab with excellent ring generalship to gain an impressive win. All three judges were in agreement returning scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110. The Undisputed scored the contest 117-111 in Haney’s favour.
Despite the pre-fight hostilities the contest, though always interesting, never really took off. The Australian entered as a unified champion after his shock defeat of Teofimo Lopez last year, but couldn’t get any success or control inside the dominant jab of the slick Haney. The Aussie spent most of the fight countering off Haney’s near perfect straight left stick and, although having some success in the mid rounds, could never really maintain a pace and intensity that allowed him to corner his opponent for sustained periods.
Haney (28-0, 15 KO’s) showed the full extent of his boxing IQ by dictating the pace of the fight with his slick skills. A couple of times he got nailed with solid shots from the advancing and upright home fighter, but the American was able to ride them comfortably.
In his post-fight interview Haney explained “The gameplan was to hit and not get hit…I fought a good, smart fight”. This summed up his approach and how the contest went.
The former champ was accepting in defeat saying “I give him full respect for the victory” but added “I thought the fight was very close”. He ended saying “Let him have his moment” pointing to and knowing the rematch clause built into pre-fight negotiations. On this result there won’t be a clamour for the rematch as it was a classic case of styles making fights and Haney on this showing would likely prevail again. Kambosos suffered his first defeat and drops to 20-1, 10 KO’s but will come again.
The Las Vegas based American is now the legitimate world lightweight champion adding all the sanctioning straps to his WBC title. He adds the prestigious Ring magazine championship which was also on the line.
The 9st,9lb (135lbs) division is stacked with talent and strong challenges await from Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko amongst others.
In Cardiff, Wales former elite amateur Joe Cordina spectacularly took the IBF world junior-lightweight (9st,4lb/130lbs) title from Japanese Kenichi Ogawa with a stunning second round knockout. The massive right hand he registered on the former champion’s jaw is an early contender for punch and knockout of the year. As soon as it detonated and the Japanese slumped to the canvas the fight was over.
In a fight that we predicted the hometown challenger would win narrowly he completely obliterated those early thoughts with his stunning KO. This was by far the standout performance of Cordina’s career and it sets him up for unification fights further down the line. The 30 year old ‘Welsh Wizard’ rises to 15-0, 9 KO’s and former champion drops to 26-2-1, 18 KO’s.
A fantastic bantamweight contest is set for tomorrow in Saitama, Japan when pound-for-pounder Naoya Inoue meets Filipino Nonito Donaire for a second time. Their first meeting, also in Saitama, was The Ring magazine 2019 fight of the year with the Japanese, Inoue winning a hard fought unanimous decision.
Inoue (22-0, 19 KO’s) goes by the moniker of ‘The Monster’ due to his destructive power and intensity and should be too much this time for multi-weight and current WBC champion Donaire (42-6, 28 KO’s). The ‘Filipino Flash’ performed exceptionally well in the first contest but almost three years on, now aged 39, is close to the twilight of his career. The younger man at 29 should register the KO this time, likely in the last third of the fight. It will though be exciting whilst it lasts.
The contest is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and will be available on Top Rank’s YouTube channel with ring walks expected at 12:30pm BST. It is also available on ESPN+ in the US and Amazon Prime in Japan.