Former unified and lineal lightweight world champion George Kambosos Jr. (21-2, 10 KOs) secured a narrow 12-round majority decision victory against an elusive Maxi Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) Saturday evening at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, earning a mandatory shot at the IBF crown.
Kambosos returned to the ring with renewed vigor after back-to-back undisputed showdowns in his native Australia. But Hughes, an English southpaw coming off a seven-fight win streak, nullified Kambosos’ aggression with distance and intelligent footwork.
In the fifth round Hughes used his quick feet to set up left hands, one of which opened up a cut above Kambosos’ right eye. A clash of heads in the sixth round caused a cut above Hughes’ left eye.
The later rounds saw both fighters continuing to set up single shots with feints and jabs. Hughes had more success with his counter left hand, while Kambosos, with a sense of urgency, tried to pick up the pace in the final round.
Kambosos takes home his mandatory spot with scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 115-113.
“We won the fight by many rounds. That’s no discredit to Maxi Hughes. He had a couple good rounds. But a couple good rounds don’t win you the 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,” Kambosos said.
“I need to get grittier. He was moving a lot and wasn’t engaging a lot, but that’s the way he fights. We knew he was going to be a tough challenge, but styles make fights. I’ve got to be more gritty with these guys.”
Hughes said, “I’m absolutely devastated. Nobody thought I was 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.
“I used my footwork. I made him miss and pay. I landed the cleaner shots. I don’t want to sound like a sore loser, and I will watch it and assess it, but everyone here now knows who Maxi Hughes is.”
Credit: Top Rank Boxing