What figures to be a whirlwind week for sudden star George Kambosos Jr. will conclude in Las Vegas.
The undefeated, unified lightweight champion plans to sit ringside for Devin Haney’s mandated title defense Saturday night against Joseph Diaz Jr. If the favored Haney retains his WBC world lightweight title, Australia’s Kambosos considers him the frontrunner for the newly crowned champion’s first fight of 2022.
Whoever Kambosos boxes next, he’ll demand that their fight take place at an outdoor stadium in his hometown of Sydney.
“You know, I’m the kingpin now,” Kambosos told BoxingScene.com on Sunday, the afternoon following his split-decision upset of Teofimo Lopez in New York. “I’ve got all the belts. You know, I’m the shot-caller. I’ve had to really earn my stripes. My next fight will be in Australia, in a 80,000-seat stadium. And yeah, the big names. I think Devin Haney’s gotta look good this weekend. I will be there to watch. And if he looks good, then we’ll sit down, make it work and let’s do it. I always want the best. I want the toughest challenges and I’ll have to continue shocking the world. So, I think that makes most sense.”
The 28-year-old Kambosos doesn’t think Lopez will want an immediate rematch after their grueling 12-round battle at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
Kambosos dropped Lopez in the first round, survived a 10th-round knockdown and out-pointed Lopez on two scorecards. Judges Frank Lombardi (115-111) and Glenn Feldman (115-112) each scored eight rounds for Kambosos, who lost seven rounds on judge Don Trella’s scorecard, 114-113.
The 24-year-old Lopez (16-1, 12 KOs), who was a 10-1 favorite in the days leading up to his mandated defense of the IBF 135-pound championship, lost the IBF, WBA, WBC “franchise” and WBO belts to Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs). Las Vegas’ Haney holds the WBC world lightweight title, the only championship Kambosos needs to become boxing’s fully unified champion in his division.
If Lopez isn’t interested in a rematch, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia are the prominent potential opponents for Kambosos if he can’t secure a fight against the Haney-Diaz winner. Haney is the opponent Kambosos most wants to fight.
“I think that makes most sense,” Kambosos said. “So, we’ll have to just sit down and make sure it works. But I’m up for it. I’ve been saying it for a long time – for me, I don’t fear nobody. I don’t duck and dodge anybody. I’ll fight anyone in their hometown. But I’ve really earned my stripes now, so it’s time now that it reverses a change and they’ve gotta come do it in my hometown now.”
Kambosos expects Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) to defeat Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KOs) in a DAZN main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena. He knows as well as anyone, though, that Diaz is more than capable of pulling off an upset of his own.
“It’s a good fight, too, because ‘Jo Jo’ will come and bring it,” Kambosos said. “He’s a tough customer and, you know, very experienced as well. So, I’m looking forward to a good battle. I think Devin can box to a good unanimous decision. But we just had a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender right there, so I wanna see excitement. I wanna see a good dance partner. You know, if I’m gonna pick you, you know, you’ve gotta show me something, too.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.