Another weekend, another big boxing match. This Saturday’s major fight is technically a Sunday matchup, as it’s taking place in Melbourne, Australia. Unified WBA, IBF, and WBO lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr (20-0, 10 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since his monstrous upset over Teofimo Lopez, and he’s not taking a soft touch in his homecoming. Standing in his way is 23-year-old undefeated American Devin Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), who’s the WBC champion thus making this an undisputed lightweight title bout.
We’ve seen so many excellent, well-matched fights over the past several weeks in boxing, and this is a great way to kickoff the June slate. Let’s dig a little deeper into what should be a terrific contest!
Tale of the Tape
Kambosos: 28 years old | 5’9 1⁄2” | 68” reach
Haney: 23 years old | 5’8” | 71” reach
Following a solid amateur career, Kambosos debuted as a pro in 2013 at just 19 years old, and thanks to a lot of regional title fights in the Asia/Oceania region had built up some valuable early experience in 12-round bouts. Kambosos recorded consecutive split decisions over Mickey Bey and Lee Selby to become the #1 contender in the IBF rankings and thus a mandatory challenger to Teofimo Lopez, who was fresh off his upset win over Vasiliy Lomachenko. As you surely know by now, the Lopez bout was a rollercoaster from the moment that it went to purse bid. He endured numerous postponements (for various reasons) and shenanigans (and a default) from Triller, and it wasn’t until November we saw this matchup happen. Better late than never, as Kambosos turned in the performance of his life. Kambosos shocked everyone with an opening round knockdown of the heavily favored Lopez, and he largely outboxed Teofimo throughout the rest of the contest. He met a serious challenge when he was knocked down in the 10th, but he survived and was able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent years.
Haney was a gifted amateur who compiled a record of 138-8, winning gold medals at a US and world level in youth championships. In 2015 at just 17 years old, he turned professional in Mexico — you have to be at least 18 to be a pro in the United States — and it didn’t take long for him to attract the attention of Showtime. Haney fought on the network’s ShoBox series and notably stopped Mason Menard and took a decision over Juan Carlos Burgos in 2018. In 2019, Haney and his own promotional company signed a co-promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. His Matchroom debut ended in a spectacular KO of Antonio Moran, followed by a fourth-round stoppage of Zaur Abdullaev to win the WBC interim lightweight belt. Through the WBC’s nonsense, Haney was promoted to full champion while then-champ Vasiliy Lomachenko achieved “franchise” status... I won’t go into detail on that. Over his past four bouts, Haney has gone the distance against Alfredo Santiago, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Jorge Linares (his arguable best win to date), and most recently JoJo Diaz. This Kambosos fight represents the first on Haney’s new Top Rank deal.
Odds and Prediction
DraftKings Sportsbook has Haney slightly favored at -170 to Kambosos’ +140 underdog odds. When you beat Lopez the way Kambosos did, you tend to get a little more respect from the oddsmakers.
This is a great fight and a fascinating one. Neither man is a big puncher but neither is featherfisted. There’s a clear speed advantage in Haney’s favor and I consider him to be the more gifted offensive boxer. Haney has exemplary defense but it’s more than notable that he was shaken late against Jorge Linares and pretty much opted to run out the clock for the remainder of the fight. JoJo Diaz also gave Haney some problems and it raises valid concerns about how Haney reacts to getting hit.
Kambosos had great success trading with Lopez in close, but Haney is more comfortable at distance where he can snipe with such tremendous precision, and in this fight has a clear reach advantage. Haney could turn Kambosos’ aggression and pressure against him with his jab and ability to work off the counter. It’ll be interesting to see if Kambosos takes a more cautious approach or looks to disrupt Haney’s rhythm, as Devin does have output issues that can cost him rounds (especially in enemy territory).
One x-factor to consider here is Haney’s corner — rather, who’s not in Haney’s corner. His dad and lead trainer Bill was denied a visa to enter Australia due to a criminal charge from three decades ago, which means Yoel Judah will be the man in charge of Devin’s corner for this contest. Will that have a mental impact or even just an in-fight strategic impact remains to be seen. UPDATE: Good news for Bill Haney!
Ultimately, I’ve learned my lesson as far as overlooking Kambosos, but I do think he’ll come up just short against Haney. It’s going to be a close fight but a clear winner in the end.
Pick: Devin Haney by unanimous decision.
What’s on the undercard?
Not the best but not the worst, either. Veteran bantamweight contender and former title challenger Jason Moloney battles one-time title challenger Aston Palicte. Heavyweight Junior Fa against Lucas Browne is an atrocious fight if only because Browne is way way way shopworn. There are a couple of swing fights that could make their way to the broadcast but nothing terribly interesting.
There are actually a couple of “postlims” that will air after the main event and stream on ESPN+. Jason’s twin brother Andrew will be one of the competitors on that card against Alexander Espinoza.
Kambosos vs. Haney airs live on ESPN and ESPN+ at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT, while this is a Foxtel PPV in Australia. Bloody Elbow will have live coverage of the main event.