Former lightweight champion George Kambosos returned to the win list Saturday night in Shawnee, Oklahoma, albeit in a highly controversial manner with a majority decision victory over Maxi Hughes.
The scores of 114-114, 117-111 and 115-113 in favor of Kambosos (21-2, 10 KOs) were accompanied by a chorus of boos as a frustrated Hughes disappointedly shook his head.
Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) entered the ring almost as a 3-1 underdog and then delivered a career-best performance thanks to his southpaw push and skillful boxing. He stunned Kambosos to the body with his left hand in round 3 and slit open the Australian’s right eye with his left hand in round 5.
That punch down the middle was Hughes’ best weapon all night in ESPN’s main event, but it wasn’t enough to convince the three judges.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” said Hughes, who defeated Kambosos 98-90. “Nobody thought I should play in George’s league. Tonight I came and showed that I should have raised my hand. I don’t want to take George’s moment.”
“I used my footwork. I made him walk by and pay. I landed the cleaner shots. I don’t want to sound like a bad loser and I’ll watch and judge, but now everyone here knows who Maxi Hughes is.”
Hughes, a 33-year-old Englishman, earned the biggest win of his career, a majority decision win over former champion Kid Galahad in September. He’s likely to get another significant chance after his US debut, but it’s Kambosos who’s moving on to bigger fights.
Kambosos, a former four-belt lightweight champion, was looking to bounce back from two losses to Devin Haney in Australia last year and managed to do so after a slow start.
“We won the fight by a lot of rounds,” said Kambosos, ESPN’s No. 5 lightweight. “This is not a discredit to Maxi Hughes. He had a couple of good laps. But a few good rounds don’t win the fight. We won most rounds. That’s why we chose him. It was a tough test.”
The win is Kambosos’ first since a crucial win over Teofimo Lopez at ESPN’s Upset of the Year 2021, a feat that propelled Kambosos to the top of the 135lb class.
“I need to get braver,” Kambosos said. “He’s been moving a lot and not committing a lot, but that’s how he fights.”
Davis remains undefeated despite defeat
Keyshawn Davis, an Olympic silver medalist, maintained his unbeaten record with a 10-round unanimous victory over Francesco Patera in the ESPN Chief Support bout.
The scores were 100-89, 99-90, and 100-89 for Davis, who crushed Patera in round 8 with a counterattack on the right.
It was the first time in his professional career that Patera, a 30-year-old Belgian, was on screen.
Davis (9-0, 6 KOs) otherwise failed to deliver an explosive performance, but once again demonstrated his strong jab and boxing skills. Above all, he gained valuable experience against a seasoned fighter before he can hopefully clinch the title next year.
“I give myself a C+ or B-,” said Davis, a 24-year-old from Norfolk, Virginia. “I can’t be too hard on myself if I don’t stop these guys because they have a lot more experience than me. But at the end of the day, I beat them unanimously every round.”
“I just have to take my hat off for doing little things like that, sticking to my game plan, listening to my coaching and just having fun doing it. It was great to make the round against a tough opponent like Patera. I needed that spice to advance in my career.”