George Kambosos Jr. doesn’t pretend that it’s as simple as returning to basics to resume his winning ways.
Recapturing that level of hunger, however, figures to provide a spark in his rematch with Devin Haney that he felt was missing from his arsenal in their undisputed lightweight championship earlier this year.
“I’m back to the underdog. I’m back to a position where it’s very familiar with myself,” Kambosos told host Matt Nable during a recent interview published on the Top Rank YouTube channel. “I’m able to train at peace and come out a better fighter.
“That’s what happens after a loss. You come out as a better fighter. That’s how I feel, very focused and very relaxed. This is a two-part fight. You got me the first time, congrats champ. Now, I’ll see you again.”
Sydney’s Kambosos (20-1, 10KOs) enters the rematch with Haney (28-0, 15KOs) as a +550 underdog according to Caesars Sportsbook when the two once again meet atop an ESPN telecast Saturday evening (Sunday afternoon local time) from Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. The same city hosted their first clash in June, with Las Vegas’ Haney posting a lopsided win to defend his WBC lightweight title and collect the lineal/WBA ‘Super/IBF/WBO titles from Kambosos on the road at Marvel Stadium.
The loss was a major letdown for Kambosos, who was riding high following a well-earned victory over then-unbeaten lineal and unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. last November 27 in New York City. Anyone who paid attention to the buildup could see that the feat and the joy of defending in his home country clearly went to Kambosos’ head, caught up in a victory lap rather than focusing on the hard work and upset wins that led to reaching that point in his career.
“Did I focus too much on my brand? Maybe,” admitted Kambosos. “Perhaps I got too focused on the hype and the brand and making a successful event instead of worrying about what got me there. That Lopez leadup, that Selby leadup. You live and you learn…. It becomes distracting. You focus on your brand. There’s a lot of commitments as a champion.
“Now I’m quiet and reserved. I patiently wait for my time on October 16th. But I am outspoken. I am charismatic. That’s what drove it to be such a big event, all myself. He did not play a part other than being Haney.
He won. It’s what he did. It’s what you do now. It’s a two-part fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox