The father and business manager of WBC lightweight titleholder Devin Haney thinks George Kambosos Jr.’s insistence on making his inaugural lightweight defense in his homeland of Australia is something of a false premise.
The younger, Las Vegas-based Haney has been in talks to face Kambosos ever since the Aussie produced one of the most startling upsets of last year, a unanimous decision over then titlist Teofimo Lopez to win the WBO, WBA, and IBF lightweight belts at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Kambosos has been adamant that his first title defense will take place in Australia, at a stadium in either Sydney or in Melbourne. Haney, who owns the WBC lightweight belt, has repeatedly claimed he has no issues satisfying Kambosos on that front, and at one point said he would travel to Jupiter to fight the Aussie. Kambosos expects nothing short of a record turnout.
The elder Haney disagrees.
“The pandemic forced Australia to be on 50% lockdown, which, I can only say, that’s one of the reasons why the fight isn’t getting as much support for the fight being there as they initially thought,” Bill Haney told BoxingScene.com at a press conference in New York City for the April 30 Katie Taylor-Amanda Taylor lightweight unification title bout. Asked to clarify what he meant by "support," Bill Haney said he was referring to the Australian government, although it’s not clear if he was talking about monetary assistance per se. Bill Haney said it would behoove Kambosos to consider widening the pool of possibilities instead of limiting himself to a homecoming occasion.
“We have football stadiums that are sold out here [in the United States],” Bill Haney continued. “I think in the US, we’ve gotten control of that evil disease, COVID. You see stadiums sold out. It’s pretty much plugged and played at this point in time. If you put Devin’s name with Kambosos it’s a big event.”
Bill Haney’s comments come amid a report by Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix that negotiations between Haney (27-0, 15 KOs) and Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) have stalled because “officials involved have struggled to come up with a financial package that will satisfy Haney.” According to Mannix, Kambosos’ handlers, Peter Kahn and Lou DiBella, are entertaining serious offers to face Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) of Top Rank Inc. or Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) of Golden Boy Promotions.
“What I'm saying is let’s stop the holdup,” the elder Haney said. “Let’s stop creating the narrative that it only can happen in Australia. Let’s open it up and let’s open up talks that it can happen anywhere in the world. It’s whoever brings the most money. Don’t you think so?”
Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn seemed to agree.
“Yeah, I think it depends on the money,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com when asked to respond to Bill Haney’s comments. “[Kambosos’] dream is to fight in Australia. But if there are COVID restrictions or the money’s not there right now, I’m sure we’ll look at other options as well. I understand him (Kambosos) wanting to create a historic fight in Australia.”
Bill Haney, moreover, is not convinced that there is enough evidence that Kambosos-Haney will draw the kind of attention that Kambosos has claimed that it will.
“We need an example of what has worked [in Australia], post pandemic,” Bill Haney continued. “We have an example of Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao [welterweight title bout in 2017 that took place before 50,000 spectators in a stadium in Brisbane], but that’s the only fight we can draw an inference from. Right? Now we’re talking about this fight. We just want to make it happen, bro.
Haney noted that he was impressed with the media turnout at the press conference for Taylor-Serrano, the women's undisputed lightweight championship. Why not, Haney proffered, stage the men's undisputed lightweight championship at Madison Square Garden at some point as well?
"When Devin said Jupiter he said Jupiter because he didn’t want to stand in the way," Bill Haney said. "We came here [to New York City] and we’re looking at this and looking at the press that’s showing up and I think that the men’s lightweight division will get even more support here.
“It’ll be a huge fight anywhere, but [the question is] are you dead set on putting on obstacles for that fight [by insisting on fighting in Australia]. The main message I would have for the Kambosos team is, 'don’t put any obstacles, and let’s make this s--- happen.'”