Devin Haney Takes The Bet, Takes The Belts from George Kambosos Jr. by UD
Devin Haney of Las Vegas went all-in on himself this weekend in a way few modern boxers do, dealing with a long trip to Australia and the possibility until the final moment his father and trainer Bill Haney wouldn't be able to join him for the biggest fight of his career.
But the senior Haney made it with 12 hours to spare. His son executed his father's game plan to perfection, winning a dominant unanimous decision over George Kambosos Jr. in Melbourne and becoming the unanimous decision's undisputed lightweight world champion. The scores were 116-112 X 2 and 118-110. Our unofficial NYFights.com card was 117-111.
Haney becomes the second-youngest champion in the four-belt era at age 23. Haney is a few months older than the record holder whose belts Kambosos took, Teofimo Lopez Jr.
“This is a dream come true,” said Haney. “I was going through it without my dad being here. It was a big moment for both of us. It would have hurt me to accomplish this without him. Thank God we were able to do it together.” Later, asked how big the victory was to him, Haney laughed, “10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 20!”
“It means everything to me. I told everyone what kind of fighter he was. They didn't believe me. He pitched a shutout,” said Bill Haney.
Haney: ‘Hit And Not Get Hit'
Haney's game plan was simple in concept. But if it was easy, everyone could do it. Haney used his four-inch reach advantage, superior footwork, and defensive skills to keep Kambosos Jr. at a distance, preventing him from engaging in a firefight. It required him to stay disciplined, keep moving, and change levels to keep Kambosos Jr. off balance.
“The game plan was to hit and not get hit,” said Haney. “I took the last round off because I was comfortably ahead. I fought a good smart fight. I handicapped him of his best things, the overhand right hand and big left hook. I was fighting both ways, and he couldn't hit me with either one of them.”
It was the best display of all Haney's skills in a single package. This version of Haney beats anyone unless an opponent lands a lucky punch.
Kambosos Jr. couldn't get any significant offensive effort because he counted on big right-hand power shots over the top. Haney knew it and steered himself clear. Kambosos Jr. landed a handful of hard punches across 12 rounds. It wasn't ever enough to hurt Haney. This is where his experience taking heat from Jorge Linares and Joseph Diaz Jr. had him well prepared for Kambosos Jr.
“As the fight was going on, I felt him giving up,” said Haney. “But I wanted to stick to my game plan. I was fighting in his hometown. I wanted to pitch a shutout.”
After the seventh round, Haney told his son to keep his high guard up. “He wants that one shot. Don't give it to him.”
Kambosos Jr.'s corner told him to step it up in the later rounds. “All these fucking people in here. You need to unload!” said Kambosos Sr. It was pointless for the Australian to try and outbox a boxer. He tried to press the action in the last two rounds, but Kambosos Jr. was too mentally and physically fatigued.
The Australian fans who packed themselves into Marvel Stadium were shut out of the fight by Haney as effectively as he shut down Kambosos Jr., a nonfactor in the outcome. They understood what they were witnessing. Although they booed Haney on his walk to the ring, they maintained a respectful silence acknowledging Haney's victory.
See fight highlights here.
Kambosos Jr.: ‘He's A True Warrior'
Kambosos Jr. accepted the decision with no whining or ill will. He carried his four belts over to Haney's corner and handed them to him, congratulating Haney and his father.
“It's amazing for the sport, amazing for this country,” said Kambosos Jr. “I give him full respect after his victory tonight. Let him have his moment. We'll do it again.
“He didn't want to come to fight too much, but that's his game,” said Kambosos Jr.. “I'll change a few things and get him back. I take the risk. I fight the best of the best. (My right hand) landed a few times, but he had a smart game plan, and he did want he did to win.”
Haney was a gracious winner in return. “I take my hat off to him. He's a true warrior. Anyone who steps in the ring deserves respect. I want to thank George Kambosos and all of Australia for coming out. A lot of these so-called champions wouldn't give me my shot. But George gave me my shot, thank you.”
Rematch? No Thanks, We're Full
Kambosos Jr. controls a rematch clause. He indicated he wants to schedule a rematch later this year. “Respect to boxing. Fuck protecting records. We'll do it again.' Haney said the right words. There isn't much else he can say now. “Inshallah, if Allah wants it to happen, I'll be back.”
We're not interested in second helpings of this fight. But not because it was “boring.” It was a brilliant display of skill, though no one would describe it as thrilling. Haney dominated his opponent, and if we want to see a replay, we'll check YouTube. There's no intrigue about the outcome in a rematch. Kambosos Jr. insisted he would adjust his approach for the next fight. If this were indeed possible, he would have done so in the ring Saturday.
Instead, Haney is without question at the top of the food chain among his peers like Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia. It must feel satisfying to Haney to now be in control of their prospects after he was repeatedly ignored and blown off. Here's hoping Davis, Garcia, and others see the payoff in taking a risk to prove what you're made of.
(Down) Undercard Highlights
The Moloney brothers gave the hometown fans in Melbourne something to feel better about after the loss in the main event.
Bantamweight Jason Moloney (24-2, 19 KOs) landed a precise right check hook to the chin of Aston Palicte of the Philippines (28-5-1, 23 KOs) with a minute left in round three. Moloney wasn't going to let the moment pass. He unloaded on a still-shaky Palicte, knocking him down as the referee waved off the bout at 2:35 of the third round. It was the kind of win he needed, barely two months after his last bout.
Super flyweight Andrew Moloney (24-2, 16 KOs) needed even less time than his brother, battering Alexander Espinoza of Nicaragua (21–2, 8 KOs) for two rounds until Espinoza's corner called off the fight before the start of the third round. “You got two of Australia's best,” said Moloney. “I would have liked to have gone a little bit longer to show what I can do, but a win's a win.” Moloney said he hoped both he and his brothers would get world title fights on the undercard of a Haney Kambosos Jr. rematch. He may want to have a backup plan.
The main U.S. broadcast started with a bang, courtesy of Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne (31-3. 27 KOS). Browne, age 43, drilled Junior Fa of New Zealand (19-2, 10 KOs) with a roundhouse right hook barely one minute into their bout. Fa struggled to his feet, but he should have called it a night there and then. Browne scored the knockout at 1:58 of the round with an unfortunate rabbit punch. Fa was never going to survive.
Heavyweight Hemi Ahio of New Zealand (19-0, 14 KOs) also dispatched his opponent Christian Ndzie Tsoye of Australia via Cameroon (5-5-2, 4 KOs) with a first-round TKO stoppage.