MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Devin Haney says he’s confident he has established himself as one of the world’s best boxers after a successful defense of his four world lightweight championship belts on Sunday.
The unbeaten 23-year-old American claimed the 29th win of his career after outclassing former world champion George Kambosos Jr. for the second time in less than five months in Melbourne.
Although Kambosos and fight promoter Lou DiBella believe Haney will eventually move up a weight division, Haney said he wants to remain in the lightweight division in the short term given his current dominance.
The Las Vegas boxer, who was given a 119-109 points win by one judge and 119-110 by the other two at the Rod Laver Arena fight, conceded it was a challenge to meet the 135-pound restriction but said it is a sacrifice worth taking.
“135 pounds is not easy for me to make. It takes a lot of sacrifice and discipline,” he said. “I’m gonna go back and talk to my team, but (there are) a lot of big fights … a lot of big money at 135. So we’ll see what is next but it is likely for me to stay (in the division).”
The American was snubbed by ESPN analysts in the most recent release of rankings assessing the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
But Haney believes the versatility he has shown when outpointing Kambosos, combined with the power that was clearly evident in Sunday’s 12-round fight, proves he is an elite boxer.
In his unanimous victory over Kambosos in June, Haney used his left jab to great effect. In the rematch, it was Haney’s right hand that did the damage, with the Australian left bloodied from cuts under his left eye and above his right ear.
“They say that the pound-for-pound rankings are not just (about) wins or, whatever your skill set. I showed that I have all the skills. I’m a versatile fighter. I can do it all,” Haney said.
“And I’m the youngest world champion in boxing. So to be honest, it speaks for itself. If I wasn’t on the pound-for-pound list before, I definitely should be now.”
Kambosos, who has vowed to fight on despite earlier suggestions he would retire if beaten by Haney again, was left in no doubt about the undisputed lightweight champion’s talent.
“This guy is a top-five pound-for-pound fighter in the world, if not even higher,” Kambosos said. “This guy is smart. He knows how to adapt. I landed some great shots in round one and thought, ‘Here we go. Here is ‘Ferocious’ back’. But he just knows how to adapt. He knows how to move. He is a great fighter. I respect him a lot.”
DiBella compared Haney to boxing legend Floyd Mayweather when saying the American, who has won 15 of his 29 fights by knockout, has an outstanding array of weapons.
“You used to watch Mayweather and he would … quietly destroy guys and just beat their spirit and win almost every round and people would say that’s boring,” DiBella said.
“Tonight, George came out there knowing he had to earn his fan base back, he had to entertain the people of Australia. And he knew probably that he was walking into a tornado and he did it anyway, which is credit to him.”
All which DiBella said underscored how strong a boxer Haney is.
“That’s the greatness of a guy like this and the greatness of Floyd Mayweather,” DiBella said. “You notice I’m using them in the same breath. And that’s not accidental.”
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