George Kambosos Jr. could’ve been looking at the end of his career as an elite boxer.
The former lightweight champion emerged with a majority decision over Maxi Hughes in a 12-pound title eliminator on Saturday night in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but you can bet that not many are convinced he earned it.
Those at Firelake Arena certainly didn’t think so. They booed the decision passionately when it was announced.
That’s because Hughes seemed to outbox Kambosos, who was coming off back-to-back one-sided losses to undisputed 135-pound champ Devin Haney.
The slick, experienced Englishman controlled much of the fight by waiting for Kambosos (21-2, 10 KOs) to commit himself, making him miss, landing many counter punches and then moving out away before Kambosos could respond.
The simple, but effective formula frustrated Kambosos from beginning to end and impressed those watching.
Kambosos did win some rounds by keeping the pressure on Hughes, who couldn’t avoid everything the Aussie threw his way.
However, when the fight ended, it seemed that Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) had done enough to claim what would’ve been the biggest victory in the 33-year-old’s long career.
The judges saw it differently. The official scores were 117-111, 115-113 and 114-114. Boxing Junkie scored it 115-113 for Hughes, seven rounds to five.
The 117-111 (nine rounds-to-three) scorecard of Josef Mason, a judge from Denver, will go down as one of the worst in recent memory.
Kambosos seemed as relieved as he was happy after he learned he had won but he insisted in his post-fight interview that he had done more than enough to earn the nod.
“We won the fight by many rounds,” he said. “That’s not to discredit Maxi Hughes. He had a couple of good rounds. But a couple of rounds doesn’t win you a fight. We won a majority of the rounds.
“That’s the reason we chose him. He was a hard test. A lot of guys coming off losses wouldn’t want to take a test like him. This was a hard challenge,”
One could tell by Hughes’ expression the moment he realized he had lost the fight that he was crestfallen.
The spectators in Shawnee gave him a hearty ovation as the television interviewer was approaching the loser after his interview with Kambosos moments earlier.
“They know, they know,” Hughes said. “… I’m absolutely devastated. Nobody knew who I was. I wasn’t supposed to be in George’s league. Tonight, I came and I showed that I should have had my hand raised.
“I don’t want to take George’s moment but I’m gutted here.”
Kambosos took a step forward even if he didn’t deserve it by getting back into the win column for the first time since he upset Teofimo Lopez in 2021.
Haney reportedly plans to move up to 140 pounds, where he wants to challenge titleholder Regis Prograis. If that happens, a number of big-name 135-pounders will be in position to fight for a share of championship. And Kambosos will be among them.
He evidently is targeting a specific lightweight for his next fight.
“I’m happy to get this great win tonight, happy to pick up this new [secondary] title to add to my collection,” he said. “Now we’ll sit back with the team. They’re all great fighters.
“Shakur Stevenson is a great fighter [but] Vasiliy Lomachenko … I believe that’s the next fight to be done.”
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