MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Undisputed lightweight boxing champion Devin Haney has ridiculed rival George Kambosos Jr., as a fighter reliant on excuses ahead of their world title rematch on Sunday.
Haney has promised to send the former world champion, who was defeated for the first time in 21 fights by unanimous decision in their first meeting, “into retirement” by inflicting another beating.
Both boxers were comfortably under the 135-pound limit at Saturday’s weigh-in.
The unbeaten 23-year-old Haney, an American who has 15 knockouts in his 28 wins, outpointed Kambosos at Marvel Stadium to claim the WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight world titles.
Haney taunted the Australian repeatedly on Friday in a reversal of the psychological ploys Kambosos used leading into their first fight, tactics the local fighter described as being derived from “the art of war.”
During a press conference at Rod Laver Arena, which will host Sunday’s fight, the Las Vegas boxer gave his rival a copy of Sun Tzu’s renowned book “The Art of War” as a pointed reminder about the outcome of their first world title bout.
The American also interrupted journalists to ask Kambosos why he had sacked Miami-based trainer Javiel Centeno and manager Peter Kahn after that fight.
Centeno helped mastermind the Australian’s upset win over Teofino Lopez by split decision at Madison Square Garden last November.
But the Sydney boxer was no match for Haney in his subsequent title defense, with one judge scoring the fight 118-110 and the other two 116-112 in favor of the American.
Jim Kambosos, the Australian’s father, blamed Centeno for the defeat, saying the trainer “did not execute the right instructions for George” and there was “no urgency in the corner.”
The Kambosos camp has claimed Haney was allowed to get away with illegally holding the Australian during the first fight and has repeatedly criticized the refereeing over the past four months.
Kambosos also said he was distracted by trying to promote the fight in Australia as the champion and was not pleased with his preparation leading into the June meeting. But Haney is not impressed by the Australian camp’s interpretation of events.
“They keep making up excuses. Now it is the coach. Before it was the referee. (They said) I was holding. They make every excuse in the book,” Haney said.
“Why did you fire your whole team if that was the case? If truly you feel like I was holding too much, why would you fire your whole team?”
Although the Australian said he would “shock the world again”, Kambosos stressed he has learned a lesson from the loss to Haney and will let his boxing do the talking on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Kambosos, who has reunited with his original trainer Chris Bakis, said he was distracted by the hype heading into his first bout as the world champion.
“I am zoned in on this moment. Nothing will break my focus. Nothing will break my tunnel vision. I am not interested in any of that now,” Kambosos said.
“We have been left alone for this camp. There have been no distractions. I am looking forward to doing all my talking on Sunday.”
Kambosos, who resumed training the day after the loss to Haney in June and has been preparing behind closed doors for this fight, believes he is better suited as the underdog and has “returned to his roots.”
Kambosos initially missed the weight ahead of their first meeting but said he was in perfect condition for the rematch.
Haney, meanwhile, said another victory over Kambosos will be the perfect response to being snubbed by ESPN analysts for a ranking in the top 10 pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
“At the end of the day, I’m a solid, all-round fighter, the youngest undisputed champion in boxing, so I should definitely be on the list,” he said.
“But it is what it is. My main focus right now is facing George Kambosos and after that we can talk about that, we can talk about the (rankings).”
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