George Kambosos Jr. ‘very excited to be back’ against Maxi Hughes after back-to-back loses to Haney
Former undisputed lightweight king George Kambosos Jr. will return to the ring for the first time since back-to-back loses to Devin Haney when he meets Maxi Hughes at the FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
Kambosos (20-2, 10 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 7-rated lightweight, is ready to turn the page and embark on the next chapter of his career.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Kambosos told The Ring. “We fought [Teofimo] Lopez and Haney twice in 11-months. It was good to refresh my body, give myself a little time, work on mistakes I’ve been making in my game and just keep adding more artillery to my fight game. You keep improving no matter what you’d done in the sport. It’s been good to have that time and I’m fully refreshed and fully focused on Maxi Hughes.”
The 30-year-old Australian, who learned his trade fighting at home before plying his trade around the globe in the U.S., Malaysia, Greece and the U.K., is respectful of his opponent but feels they’re on different levels.
“Maxi is a good fighter, he’s chipped away and won some fights, lost some fights, he’s been on a decent run these last few fights,” admitted Kambosos. “We know the guys he’s fought in these last few fights; we’re not getting fooled by his win streak but we know this is his Superbowl for him. This is his big opportunity fighting a guy like Kambosos, a guy who had all the belts, has been in big fights.
“People are judging me off two loses to Devin Haney, I lost to Devin Haney not just a guy we brought in and things didn’t go right and I lost. This is an elite guy, a guy that just beat Lomachenko, a guy that’s inside the top 10, if not top 5, pound-for-pound. Watch what I do in this fight because we all know Maxi Hughes is no Devin Haney or Teofimo Lopez and that’s with all respect and he knows that deep down as well.
“We know the statement we’re ready to make and what he’ll try to bring but when it comes down to it, I’m the better fighter, I’m the more elite fighter. I’ve made the sacrifice, I’m here in America, I’ve had hard sparring and the hard work in the gyms here and am fully acclimatized in the U.S., where I made my road originally to get to the top of the game, that’s what we’ve gone back to while Maxi is still enjoying himself in the U.K. doing his domestic things. He has not made certain sacrifices needed in this game to make it to the top and it will show when we step in there on July 22.”
If Kambosos is still what he was before the Haney fights, he should have too much for the workmanlike Brit.
“This is a better George Kambosos, I’m a better fighter than when I fought Teofimo Lopez,” he said. “I will make an emphatic statement against Maxi Hughes. I’m fully focused on him, no one else. The decent things he does – I wouldn’t even say good – and I know the mistakes he makes and he makes a lot of mistakes and we’re looking forward to capitalizing on every mistake.
“I will take this guy out and I will make it in emphatic fashion.”
Kambosos, who has spent 6-weeks training in Las Vegas for this fight, admits there has been some changes in the wake of losing his undisputed championship, all of which should help him going forward.
“There’s been adjustments and changes, you keep learning from your loses,” he admitted. “All around my fight game has become better.
“I’ve got a nutritionist now so weight is even easier. I’m bigger, stronger, more explosive. We’re here in the U.S. we’re fully prepared, we have sparring partners here, the American trainers and that’s the sacrifices and changes you make to continue to level up.
“If I was at a point in my career where I was like, ‘I’ll take Maxi out either way.’ I would have stayed back in Australia but for me I want to make a statement. I know I’ll beat this guy any time but I want to make a statement I want to make and show we’re here and that’s why I’m making sacrifices along the way. No family, no kids, just putting in the hard work.”
Although he has now turned 30 and achieved so much it’s clear the desire still burns within Kambosos. He became a millionaire from the two Haney fights and is very motivated to reach the top again.
“I wake up every day focused; I go to bed every day thinking about boxing,” he said. “I’m always looking for the hardest challenges and have the belief myself to fight the best even if it was Devin Haney who was probably the most avoided guy in boxing at that stage. That shows the character I have.
“We want to win another championship, an IBF, WBA, WBC or WBO belt to add to the collection. That’s the main goal.”
If all goes well, Kambosos feels he’s ready to go big-game hunting next.
“Our next fight after we get through Maxi Hughes will be Gustavo Lemos for the vacant IBF belt, once Haney most likely vacates these belts,” he said. “Unless Top Rank turn around and say, ‘We want to do a massive Kambosos-Lomachenko fight for the vacant belt back in Australia in front of 50,000 or in Greece possibly in front of 40 or 50,000 people.'”
Either way, Kambosos still feels he has a lot to offer in the talent laden lightweight division.
Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KOs), The Ring’s No. 9 rated lightweight, has been a professional since 2010. For much of the next decade he spent around domestic level but lost when he stepped up, notable in British junior lightweight title challenges to Martin J. Ward (UD 12) and Sam Bowen (TKO 8).
However, the proud Brit impressively outhustled Jono Carroll (UD 10), took Viktor Kotochigov’s unbeaten record (UD 12) and then got over the hump to claim the British lightweight title against Paul Hyland Jr. (TKO 8). The fairytale continued when he added three more wins to his resume including last time out Kid Galahad (MD 12).
Kambosos will start as the heavy favorite, something that is nothing new to Hughes. If we get the Kambosos of old, he should know too much for Hughes but it could be interesting if the battle-hardened Brit can get a foothold into the fight. That said I expect Kambosos to win and win well, perhaps getting a stoppage in around 9/ 10-rounds or winning a wide unanimous decision.
Kambosos-Hughes, plus undercard bouts, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].