George Kambosos Jr.’s longtime promoter realizes just how fortunate the former unified lightweight champion is to have moved into position to secure his upcoming title fight versus Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Lou DiBella, who co-promotes Kambosos along with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., acknowledged during a press conference Wednesday that Kambosos’ last fight just as easily could’ve been scored for Maxi Hughes. Australia’s Kambosos won a maligned majority decision July 22 in a 12-round main event ESPN televised from Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
That win kept Kambosos (21-2, 10 KOs) in line to fight for the IBF lightweight crown he once owned. The Sydney native and Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) will fight for that unclaimed championship May 12 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
“I think [Kambosos-Hughes] was a fight that could’ve gone either way,” said DiBella, whose company also represents Hughes. “It was sort of a bull and matador kind of fight, as every fight of Maxi’s is. I think Maxi had a right to feel upset, but whenever you’re in a fight that could go either way you’re gonna be upset if you don’t get the nod.”
Judge Josef Mason’s scorecard caused the most controversy because he scored Kambosos the winner of nine rounds against England’s Hughes, 117-111. Judge Gerald Ritter scored seven rounds for Kambosos, 115-113, and judge David Sutherland saw their thoroughly competitive fight as a draw, 114-114.
CompuBox credited Hughes for landing eight more punches overall than Kambosos (98-of-338 to 90-of-471). According to CompuBox’s unofficial count, Kambosos connected on more power punches (65-of-204 to 53-of-158) and Hughes landed more jabs (45-of-180 to 25-of-267).
Nonetheless, Kambosos, the number two contender in the IBF’s 135-pound ratings, will square off with the third-ranked Lomachenko in a 12-round main event ESPN will air the night of May 11 in the United States. Hughes has also secured a meaningful fight in what will be his first appearance since his controversial loss to Kambosos.
The left-handed Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs), of Rossington, England, will meet Mexico’s William Zepeda (29-0, 25 KOs) in a 12-round IBF/WBA lightweight elimination match March 16. DAZN will stream Zepeda-Hughes as a main event from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
“And I’m very happy for Maxi, by the way,” DiBella said, “who’s getting an opportunity to fight a title elimination bout and will become a mandatory again for a world title shot. So, at least it’s worked out for both men. George is getting an opportunity to bring this big event to Australia, against a legendary Hall-of-Fame fighter in Lomachenko. Frankly, if George can pull off another upset here, he starts making his own strong case to be a Hall-of-Famer one day himself.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.