Australian boxer George Kambosos Jr has relinquished his three world title belts with a unanimous defeat to American Devin Haney in their lightweight blockbuster in Melbourne.
Haney inflicted on Kambosos the first loss of his 21-fight career at Marvel Stadium on Sunday to add the WBA, WBO and IBF titles to the WBC strap he already held.
The 23-year-old joins an exclusive club of seven fighters, including legends Bernard Hopkins, Terence Crawford and Tim Tszyu’s looming opponent Jermell Charlo, to unify a division in the 18-year four-belt era.
Two of the judges awarded the bout 116-112 to Haney, with the third giving it 118-110 to The Dream from Las Vegas.
The new undisputed lightweight champion extended his unbeaten record to 28 wins with a pure display of boxing in the biggest fight ever on Australian shores.
“It’s amazing for the sport and the country,” Kambosos said after graciously handing over his belts to the victor. “I wanted to take the hardest test and I will give him full respect after his victory. Let him have his time.”
While Kambosos landed the heavier blows throughout the 12-round contest, Haney peppered the home hope with left jabs to win over the judges.
“I thought the fight was very close,” Kambosos said. “He boxed his game, he moved. He didn’t want to come to fight too much but that’s his game.
“I’m going to change a few things and get him back later this year. I take the risk, not many wanted to fight him but I gave him a shot and I’m sure we will do it again.”
The two combatants barely threw a punch in a watchful opening round that Kambosos may have stolen with a late combination to the American’s body.
Kambosos landed the first big punch of the fight, a heavy right to Haney’s head, in the second as the Australian had his challenger retreating.
A more aggressive Haney took the third round with a series of left jabs and looked to have also shaded the fourth before Kambosos delivered a big left hook late.
Kambosos landed another strong, much-needed left in the sixth round as Haney’s peppering jab began to show on the Australian’s face.
Haney controlled rounds seven and eight, leaving Kambosos to find something to sway the judges.
He did so, the Greek-Australian spartan warrior landing three big rights to take the ninth round as the home crowd of almost 50,000 fans willed their local hero to dig deep.
“He had a smart game plan; he grabbed and held a lot but he did what he had to do to win and that’s what it’s about,” Kambosos said. “Today they gave him the decision but I’m sure that will change when we get it on again.”