DevinHaney understands, like most experienced boxers, that sometimes just winning isn’t enough. It also depends on where the fight is taking place and your opponent’s political connections, which all too often make the difference between victory and defeat.
Haney will defend the undisputed lightweight championship on Saturday George Kambosos Jr. in Melbourne, Australia, in a rematch of a one-sided bout he won in the same city on June 6. At BetMGM, Haney is -700 and Kambosos is +500.
Haney clearly overtook Kambosos in that first fight and was hardly hit. Still, he somehow won four rounds on two of the three judges’ scorecards.
Kambosos hails from Australia and has since returned as the undisputed champion a dramatic victory in 2021 over Teofimo Lopez. More than 40,000 fans turned out to see him defend against Haney at Marvel Stadium and the fight was big news nationally.
And while Haney’s speed and boxing acumen made the fight a one-sided fight, the scoreline announcement was always a worry for Team Haney. The crowd roared at everything Kambosos did – which honestly wasn’t much – giving the impression that the fight was a lot more competitive than it was.
Pawel Kardyni scored 118-110 for Haney, or 10-2. That was in the ballpark, although it was hard to find much Kambosos did in any round to win two.
But Zoltan Enyedi and Benoit Roussel each had 116-112 for Haney, giving Kambosos four rounds apiece. That came as a shock to the new champion.
“It definitely surprised me,” Haney said. “I mean it was hard for me to give him one second of the fight so it was surprising that he got four rounds. But at the end of the day, that fight is over and we move on.”
The problem from Haney’s point of view, however, is that Kambosos underperforms in the first fight despite a huge talent gap between the two men. No one who has seen this fight believes it will be able to fully close the huge rift between them, but it has the potential to make things a lot harder for Haney than it was the first time.
And given that if Kambosos is better what will the judges do if Kambosos is more competitive? It’s a valid concern for Team Haney, although Haney himself dismisses such concerns.
“My main focus is to go in there, stick to my game plan and win,” Haney said. “You know, I’m not focused on anything he’s going to bring to the table, nothing he can do, because I’m so focused on stymieing him at his best.”
Haney went into this first bout as an unknown quantity, despite his obvious physical ability, having encountered relatively weak opponents and his pre-Kamboso best opponent, Jorge Linares, was on the home stretch of a stellar career.
Kambosos had comprehensively beaten Lopez to win the title and Lopez is vastly superior to anyone Haney has faced.
But Haney showed during the fight why so many in boxing have been so high on him for so long. He boxed great from start to finish and was calm the whole time, even when it looked like his father/trainer Bill Haney wouldn’t be able to come into the country.
Haney played with everything and brilliantly handled all the fuss of a big match in his opponent’s home country. Then he went out and gave the kind of performance that didn’t necessarily make him a superstar, but showed that he’s on his way.
Haney is a big lightweight and he has shown pop in his hands at times, although he didn’t for most of the night against Kambosos. This is probably the next level for him, adding strength and finishing ability to go along with the speed, quickness and boxing skills.
Still, it’s hard to beat anything he did against Kambosos the first time around.
“I think that was the best performance [of my career].” Haney said. “With so much that I’ve faced 40,000 Australians and fought in front of them. The way I managed to get a shutout and get the crowd out of the fight has to have been my best effort in my opinion.”
If Haney wins, it puts him in the best position for big fights. Shakur Stevenson has recently gone lightweight and is one of the best fighters in the world Ryan Garcia, Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Vasily Lomachenkoamong other things in the mix.
Haney wants to fight them all, although his first focus is on the task at hand.
But if things go as expected and don’t stun the judges, Haney has some lucrative opponents to choose from for his next assignment. In this case, the boxing fans will be the winners.