Former unified and lineal lightweight world champion George Kambosos Jr. makes his Top Rank debut in a 12-round IBF world title eliminator against English southpaw Maxi Hughes on Saturday, July 22, at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
In the 10-round co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis takes a seismic step up in class against Belgian contender and former European champion Francesco Patera.
Kambosos-Hughes and Davis-Patera will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“George Kambosos Jr. is still one of the lightweight division’s premier attractions, and he has the chance to get right back to title contention with a win over an upset-minded Maxi Hughes,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Keyshawn Davis, in less than 10 fights, is already a contender and has all the makings of a future superstar. This is a sensational lightweight doubleheader for the fans in Shawnee and everyone watching on ESPN.”
Kambosos (20-2, 10 KOs) is a 10-year pro who has traveled to Malaysia, Greece, London, New York City, Connecticut, and Las Vegas in his efforts to conquer the lightweight division. His wins over former world champions Mickey Bey and Lee Selby helped secure a world title shot against Teofimo Lopez in 2021. In a triumph that was named ESPN’s Upset of the Year, Kambosos toppled Lopez via split decision and captured three lightweight world titles. In 2022, the 29-year-old avoided an easy hometown defense and instead faced Devin Haney in back-to-back undisputed world title showdowns in Melbourne, Australia. Following his first career losses, Kambosos has ambitions of reclaiming his throne, but he’ll first need to get passed Hughes.
“George insisted on a meaningful fight to begin his comeback. He’s never taken the easy route," said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment. "Maxi Hughes is a legit top 10 lightweight and a high-risk fight for George coming off two losses against Devin Haney. This will be an IBF world title elimination bout and George will also challenge for Maxi’s IBO lightweight world title. For Maxi, this is the opportunity he’s been fighting for. This is his chance to prove that all of those fights he won as the underdog meant something.”
Hughes (26-5-2, 5 KOs), a 33-year-old veteran hailing from the United Kingdom, debuted in the paid ranks in 2010. He secured his first British title by defeating Ryan Moorhead in 2017. In his second bid for a British strap, he suffered a stoppage loss to Sam Bowen in 2018 before handing Kieron McLaren his first setback the following year. He hasn’t lost since a November 2019 showdown for the WBO European title against Liam Walsh, but he rebounded impressively, winning all seven of his subsequent fights, including a 10-round decision win against then-unbeaten Kazakh standout Viktor Kotochigov in 2020. Hughes is coming off a 12-round majority decision win against former world champion Kid Galahad last September.
Davis (8-0, 6 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, went 3-0 in the pro ranks before capturing a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. In November 2021, he signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and has since scored five victories, including brutal knockouts against Esteban Sanchez and Omar Tienda. In his most recent outing, the 24-year-old outclassed and battered Anthony Yigit en route to a ninth-round TKO. Davis looks to continue his rapid lightweight ascent against his stiffest test to date.
Patera (28-3, 10 KOs) is an eight-year pro from Belgium. In May 2016, he challenged for his first European title, dropping a unanimous decision to Yvan Mendy. He bounced back that year with a TKO win over Csaba Bolcskei in September before suffering a close decision loss to Sean Dodd the following month. Patera then notched wins over Pasquale Di Silvio and Edis Tatli before losing a rematch to Tatli in December 2017. Since then, the 30-year-old has won 10 straight fights and is coming off a first-round knockout against Irakli Shariashvili in April.
The ESPN+-streamed undercard will feature the ring returns of welterweight contender Giovani Santillan, Oklahoma-born heavyweight Jeremiah Milton and middleweight prospect Troy Isley.
Santillan (30-0, 16 KOs) will face Ecuadorian contender Erick Bone (27-6, 14 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight battle. He is coming off his best year yet as a pro, stopping Jeovanis Barraza in April 2022 before a hometown win over Julio Luna Avila in San Diego last August. Bone is an experienced veteran who has given tough challenges to former world champions Shawn Porter, Chris Algieri, Miguel Vazquez and Sergey Lipinets.
Milton (9-0, 6 KOs) will make his second appearance in 2023 in an eight-round heavyweight tilt. The 29-year-old is no stranger to fighting in Oklahoma, having fought four times in his hometown of Tulsa. Milton is coming off an eight-round decision win over Fabio Maldonado in April.
Isley (9-0, 4 KOs) will fight in an eight-rounder. The 24-year-old U.S. Olympian joined the Top Rank stable in January 2021 and started his pro career with a decision win against Bryant Costello. In 2022, he stayed busy and went 5-0 with two knockouts. In April, on the Shakur Stevenson-Shuichiro Yoshino card, he notched a near-shutout over Roy Barringer.
Two competitive eight-round heavyweight matchups will also be featured on the ESPN+-streamed portion.
American contender Mike Balogun (20-1, 16 KOs) will collide against New Zealand’s Hemi Ahio (20-1, 15 KOs). Balogun is a former Oklahoma University linebacker who is coming back from a loss to former cruiserweight world champion Murat Gassiev, while Ahio stopped Richie Stanley in the first round in February.
Unbeaten Cleveland southpaw Roney Hines (12-0-1, 8 KOs) will face Belgium’s Michael Pirotton (7-0, 3 KOs).