Former lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. got back in the win column, but in highly controversial fashion with a majority decision victory over Maxi Hughes on Saturday night in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
The 114-114, 117-111 and 115-113 scoreline in favor of Kamboso (21-2, 10 KOs) was greeted by a chorus of cheers as a frustrated Hughes shook his head in frustration.
Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) entered the ring almost a 3-1 underdog, then delivered a career-best performance on the strength of his southpaw and excellent boxing. He stunned Kambosos with a left hand to the body in round 3 and then cut the Austrian fighter’s right eye in the fifth round with a straight left.
That middle punch was Hughes’ best weapon all night in the ESPN main event, but it wasn’t enough to win over the three judges.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” said Hughes, who defeated Kambosos 98-90. “Nobody thought I should be in George’s league. Tonight I came and showed that I should have raised my hand. I don’t want to take George’s time away.
“I’ve used my footwork. I’ve made him miss and pay. I’ve hit them cleaner. I don’t want to sound like a sore loser and I’ll watch and appreciate him, but everybody here now knows who Maxi Hughes is.”
Hughes, a 33-year-old from England, was coming off the biggest win of his career, a majority decision win over former champion Kid Galahad in September. He’s likely to carve out another meaningful opportunity after his US debut, but it’s Kambosos who moves on to bigger fights.
Kambosos, a former four-belt lightweight champion, was looking to bounce back from a pair of losses to Devin Haney in Australia last year and did so after a slow start.
“We won the fight by a lot of rounds,” said Kambosos, ESPN’s No. 5 lightweight. “That’s no discredit to Maxi Hughes. He had some good rounds. But a few good rounds don’t win you the battle. We won most of the rounds. That’s why we picked him. He was a tough test.”
The win is Kambosos’ first since a decision victory over Teofimo Lopez at ESPN’s 2021 Knockout of the Year, a performance that elevated Kambosos to the top of the loaded 135-pound division.
“I have to get tougher,” Kambosos said. “He was moving a lot and not engaging much, but that’s the way he fights.”
Davis remains undefeated with a loss
Keyshawn Davis, an Olympic silver medalist, maintained his undefeated record with a 10-round unanimous decision win over Francesco Patera in ESPN’s co-main event.
The score was 100-89, 99-90 and 100-89 for Davis, who hit Patera with a counter right in the 8th round.
It was the first time Patera, a 30-year-old from Belgium, was on the canvas in his professional career.
Davis (9-0, 6 KOs) didn’t put on an explosive performance, but still showed his educated striking and boxing ability. Above all, he gained valuable experience against a veteran fighter ahead of what he hopes will be a title shot 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 more experience than me. But at the end of the day, I’m beating them unanimously every round.
“I just have to take my hat off to doing little things like that, sticking to my game plan, listening to my training and just having fun out there. It was great to get to the rounds against a tough opponent like Patera. I needed that spice as I move forward in my career.”