By: Hans Themistode
George Kambosos Jr. toured around the United States following his monumental victory over Teofimo Lopez. The Australian native graciously posed for pictures with his new adoring fans, signed autographs, and patiently completed what felt like a perpetual amount of interviews. More importantly, he scouted the competition.
Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, and Vasiliy Lomachenko have always been judged by fans and media pundits throughout their careers but with all three lightweights fighting in close proximity to one another, there was an added pressure placed on their shoulders.
The need to impress Kambosos Jr. came as a direct result of the Australian pulling off what appeared to be an improbable and unlikely upset.
Kambosos Jr. confidently stomped into the backyard of Lopez as a gargantuan underdog, looked into the booing crowd at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, and broke into a full-blown grin. Pre-fight predictions informing him of an embarrassing stoppage defeat weren’t unnerving. Then, as the opening bell tipped off, the 28-year-old ruthlessly stripped Lopez of his championship status and sullied his previously undefeated record.
With the Australian now in possession of the IBF, WBA, and WBC franchise lightweight titles, he made it clear that his next opponent would be chosen from a small pool of names, all of which were given their moment in the spotlight to present their case.
First up on the tryout board was Devin Haney. The WBC lightweight titlist, who finds himself routinely chastised for the manner in which he was given his title, raised Kambosos Jr.’s eyebrows slightly. While Joseph Diaz, his recent opponent, proved to be a durable and game, Haney thoroughly outboxed his man before cruising to a unanimous decision victory.
As the Aussie removed his blood-stained war helmet and threw on his analytical cap, he was mostly impressed by what he saw.
“It was a good performance,” said Kambosos Jr. during an interview with Sporting News. “It was exactly what I expected. He moved, boxed, and was sharp from the outside.”
Still, even with Haney ostensibly making a good impression on the man who currently holds a seat at the top of the 135-pound food chain, Gervonta Davis was expected to one-up him.
Kambosos Jr. made the short trek from Las Vegas, Nevada, to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and sat comfortably in his ringside seat as he took in the main event. While Haney vs. Diaz allowed Kambosos Jr. to fully dissect 12 rounds of action, in the case of Davis vs. Isaac Cruz, it felt as though the Australian wouldn’t be afforded that same courtesy.
Yet, even with most of the boxing world predicting a short and explosive win for Davis, Cruz proved to be far more durable, lasting the full 12 rounds and giving Davis the most difficult contest of his career. He was, however, aided by a severely injured left hand of Davis.
As the Baltimore native turned in his report and awaited his grade from Kambosos Jr., the newly crowned unified titlist appeared a bit indifferent. In fact, when asked to juxtapose both performances, Kambosos Jr. gave the clear edge to Haney
“Nothing too exciting,” continued Kambosos Jr. in reference to Davis during an interview with FightHype.com. “It is what it is. He got the win. I had it very, very close, it could’ve been a draw but he edged it. I think Haney had the better performance.”
With Haney turning in the better showing, the 23-year-old appeared to have the clear path to a showdown against Kambosos Jr. But just as Haney began confidently making his way to the front of the line, Vasiliy Lomachenko has grabbed him by the arm and pulled him back.
Despite losing those same world titles that occupy the waist of Kambosos Jr. at the hands of Teofimo Lopez late last year, Lomachenko is now back on the radar of every top 135 pounder. After undergoing shoulder surgery subsequently after his defeat, the Ukrainian star looks better than ever. He effortlessly dealt with Masayoshi Nakatani earlier this year, stopping him in the ninth round. He would then follow that up with a one-sided beating over former titlist Richard Commey this past weekend at Madison Square Garden.
Now, after reestablishing himself, even Kambosos Jr. had no choice but to acknowledge the Ukrainian’s performance.
“Great boxing display by Loma which puts him in the equation with Haney, Tank & Ryan (Garcia), even after his loss against Teofimo,” said Kambosos Jr. after watching Lomachenko dismantle Commey. “Looking forward to fighting one of these fellow warriors in 2022 downunder.”
Even with the unified titlist admitting that Ryan Garcia is still firmly entrenched in the Kambosos Jr. sweepstakes, he appears to be in the back of the class. Having fought just once for the entirety of 2021, Garcia will likely have to sit and wait as Kambosos Jr. chooses who he deems as the best fighter amongst that group.
With Davis eking out a close decision over Cruz, Kambosos Jr. has seemingly placed him above Garcia but behind both Haney and Lomachenko. As for who exactly impressed/earned their shot at Kambosos Jr., the most, Lomachenko appears to have the edge. While a matchup against Davis could provide the Australian with the most financial incentive, team Davis has always appeared more interested in facing fighters that could bring more to the table in terms of selling out arenas as opposed to chasing world titles.
Could Haney ultimately usurp Lomachenko and make his way to a jam-packed Australian-filled arena to fight for undisputed glory? Of course, he could. But, considering that Lomachenko has regained his lofty pound-for-pound status and the manner in which he dealt with a normally pernicious puncher in Commey, the former two-time gold medalist and multiple division star could have a leg up on the competition.
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