Devin Haney and George Kambosos meet for all the marbles at lightweight on Saturday June 4th © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
|Kambosos vs Haney||Preview|
|Where||Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Australia|
|When||Saturday, June 5th, 11pm ET|
An undisputed lightweight champion will be confirmed Down Under this weekend as the eyes of the boxing world turn to Melbourne, Australia, for a compelling match-up at 135lb.
As is so often the case in the sport, the politics resulting from the proliferation of belts across the four major sanctioning bodies mean that the title picture has, of late, been more muddied than it ever should have been — and indeed, it was only last weekend that we saw Gervonta Davis claim the WBA’s ‘regular’ crown. The story behind the needless mess created by another organization - this time the WBC - is barely worth recounting but, going into Saturday, one thing is clear: the winner of George Kambosos vs. Devin Haney should be considered the man to beat in his weight class.
For Kambosos (20-0, 10 KOs) - the unified WBA, WBO, and IBF titlist - headlining an event of this size, on home turf, and for all the straps would have been but a distant dream this time two years ago. However, a win against former world champion Lee Selby on the road in London, England, followed by a shock decision over Teofimo Lopez in one of 2021’s most significant upsets (Kambosos was a best-priced +800 underdog) transformed the brash Australian into hot property — and a fighter in the crosshairs of the division’s bigger names.
George Kambosos (above) is in red hot form after beating Lee Selby and Teofimo Lopez. Pic: USA Today
In the way of Kambosos adding the missing belt to his collection stands Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), the WBC champion. Widely considered to be one of the brightest young talents in boxing, Haney - born in San Francisco but now residing in Las Vegas - brings an altogether different stylistic puzzle. While the aggressive approach of Lopez, a notable knockout artist at the weight, largely played in the hands of Kambosos last November, it’s highly likely that Haney - a pure, technically-gifted, and defensively-minded boxer - will prove to be far more elusive.
While criticism has been leveled at Haney for his safety-first approach, it’s far more difficult to dispute his talent. Still only 23 years old, ‘The Dream’ has been largely untroubled in any of his 27 wins to date, and though his matchmaking has appeared to err on the side of caution at times, a very credible win over JoJo Diaz last time out marked a welcome end to a two-fight sentence in which he had seen off Jorge Linares and Yuriorkis Gamboa, two faded veterans with a combined age approaching 80. Given that all three outcomes were identical and largely predictable - Haney by unanimous decision - even a career-best run has failed to dispel the notion that the American is anything other than a circumspect operator.
Still, it’s Haney who has been handed favoritism here, and at a general -163 he’s considered around a 62% chance by the bookies. It’s a price that has drifted some way since the opener of -225 (69%) was listed, and it will be interesting to see whether further Kambosos support will further tighten those lines during the second half of fight week. That quote means that, at time of writing, Kambosos is no more than a slim underdog here, hovering around the +138 (42%) mark, but there are firms trimming him even shorter, and both +120 and +125 are also currently available.
In betting terms, this is a prime example of how much external factors can influence the direction of money. Were this match-up to be staged at a neutral venue, or indeed anywhere in the US, it’s likely that we would see Haney - by some way the more skilled of the two men - as a significantly bigger favorite. There is much to hearten Kambosos backers here though, which does go some way to explaining the recent odds movement.
First, Haney is traveling halfway around the world for this fight, and apart from learning his trade in several formative bouts - largely as a teenager, in Tijuana, Mexico - this is the first time he will have fought outside the States. The pro-Kambosos crowd in Melbourne will provide a thunderous soundtrack to the action, and in rounds that could be close, their volume could help sway the judges. Second, Haney will be missing his trainer, and father, Bill, from his team due to visa issues, and the question of how he responds to a different voice in the corner remains to be seen.
Devin Haney (above) will be looking to clean up at lightweight on Saturday. Pic: USA Today
A Kambosos decision is priced at +250 - a 29% implied chance - and seems like the most likely route to victory for the Australian in a contest where he may well be the more active, particularly given his relative lack of one-punch power and the fact that 50% of all his wins have come via the scorecards. It’s anywhere between slight odds-on at -110 (52% implied) and +105 (49%) that Haney is favored by the judges to earn his fourth points win in succession and the 13th of his career so far — the most fancied of all the outcomes in the Method of Victory prop.
Knockout wins for both Kambosos and Haney have been hard to come by, and so it’s no surprise to see these trailing further behind in the methods markets. Come Saturday, it will be nearly three years to the day since Kambosos last won a fight inside the distance, and though he will surely be looking to disrupt his opponent at close range, imagining he stops the unbeaten Haney requires a leap of faith. While it’s realistic to think that the American will need to pass a sizable gut check to get it done here, the +550 (15%) on a Kambosos KO has little appeal. The same price on offer for Haney to force an early night - which would take any home bias from the judging out of the equation - can be assessed similarly.
In a fight that feels like it could come down to fine margins after 12 rounds, there is a valid case to be made for either man to get the nod, but taking the less than 50% implied chance that the better technician, with the better overall skill set, and the higher ceiling, over the tenacity and work rate of the home fighter is the cautious play.
Kambosos vs Haney free betting pick
Devin Haney by decision (+105)
Stephen Fulton vs. Daniel Roman (Showtime, Saturday)
Unified world champion Fulton takes on the always-game Roman in a high-level match-up at super-bantamweight. It’s not the most ambitious pick, but Fulton by decision at -200 looks a very solid odds-on shot.
Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire (ESPN+, Tuesday)
This rematch of one of 2019’s best fights sees Inoue, one of the world’s top pound-for-pound boxers, again take on the challenge of the evergreen 39-year-old Donaire. Inoue claimed a hard-fought decision when they first met, but he should have enough firepower to win late on inside the distance here, and the +150 for Inoue to win in rounds 7-12 i s reasonably priced.
George Kambosos and Devin Haney will enter the ring at around 11pm ET on Saturday, June 4th. In Melbourne, the fight will start in the early afternoon on Sunday to allow for a prime time Saturday night slot on American TV.
|George Kambosos||Tale of the tape||Devin Haney|
|20-0, 10KOs||Record||27-0, 15KOs|
The fight will be shown live on ESPN in the US. Boxing fans can live stream it using ESPN+. In Australia, fans can purchase the fight for $69 on Foxtel. UK fight fans can watch the fight live on Sky Sports.