George Kambosos Jr. watched the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko fight from a ringside seat the night of May 20.
From Kambosos’ vantagepoint, Haney-Lomachenko was “a great fight” that could’ve gone “either way.” The former unified lightweight champion condemned those, including Lomachenko, who have claimed Haney’s unanimous-decision win was “a robbery.”
Australia’s Kambosos, who will return to the ring Saturday night after suffering back-to-back decision defeats to Haney, gave his take on their 12-round lightweight title fight during a recent interview with BoxingScene.com.
“Look, it was just a great fight,” Kambosos said. “You know, the decision is the decision. Straight after the fight, like I said, we shouldn’t try to take away and ruin boxing and create the stigma that a close fight is a robbery. It was a close fight, could’ve went either way. The champion retained his belts. And again, Lomachenko couldn’t achieve his goal that he’s been trying to do for a long time.
“Yes, you’ve gotta feel sorry for him. But again, in a close fight like that you’ve gotta give it everything and, you know, hearing him say that the last round he kinda took off – you know, obviously, I’ve got a lotta respect for Vasiliy Lomachenko, too – but it was kind of a little bit disappointing.”
Ukraine’s Lomachenko acknowledged during their post-fight press conference that he felt he should fight defensively during the 12th round and “give” it to Haney because he believed he was winning on the scorecards. All three judges – Tim Cheatham (115-113), Dave Moretti (116-112) and David Sutherland (115-113) – scored their ESPN Pay-Per-View main event for Haney, who retained his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound championships.
Disagreements about the result notwithstanding, Kambosos came away from their fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena thoroughly impressed by how Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) and Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) fought.
“Again, great fight,” Kambosos said. “And I think what we take away out of that fight is we shouldn’t, you know, disrespect the sport and say it was a robbery or, you know, it should’ve went this way or that way. We should say, ‘You know what? Both fighters put it on the line. Great fight, it is what it is and, you know, we move forward.’ ”
The 24-year-old Haney, of Henderson, Nevada, isn’t expected to give Lomachenko a rematch. The undefeated, fully unified lightweight champion could move up to the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds for his next fight, perhaps a shot at WBC super lightweight champ Regis Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs).
Kambosos (20-2, 10 KOs) will encounter England’s Maxi Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KOs) in a 12-round fight Saturday night for the IBO lightweight title at LakeFire Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
ESPN will broadcast Kambosos-Hughes, which is also an IBF elimination match, as the main event of a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. PDT). Ambitious lightweight contender Keyshawn Davis (8-0, 6 KOs), an Olympic silver medalist from Norfolk, Virginia, is scheduled to box Belgian veteran Francesco Patera (28-3, 10 KOs) in the 10-round opener of ESPN’s two-bout broadcast.
Kambosos-Hughes undercard coverage is set to start on ESPN+ at 6:15 p.m. EDT (3:15 p.m. PDT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.