To the victor go the spoils, and for George Kambosos Jr, his choice of spoils is quite incredible. The new king of the lightweights can survey a kingdom which comprises the best division in boxing, with all manner of potentially lucrative fights on the horizon. Whoever the Australian chooses to defend his newly-won WBA, WBO, IBF and The Ring belts against, it is bound to be fascinating. Let’s examine some of the contenders to his throne.
Rematch clauses are rife in boxing these days, implemented largely to rectify the sort of upset Kambosos has just pulled off. You score the win of a lifetime, then you get hastily ushered into a ring at the earliest opportunity in order to give your newly-won belts back. In an apt demonstration of how seriously prohibitive favourite Teofimo Lopez took this fight, there was no rematch clause in the contract.
This leaves the deposed champion in an unenviable position. His promoters have to make the most compelling offer in order to get ‘The Emperor’ back in the ring. Whether that be a bumper financial package, or the surrender of territorial advantage in the form of a rematch Down Under, Lopez’s team must make him unavoidably appealing.
Considering their contest this past weekend was a buzzer-beater contender for Fight Of The Year, Lopez may end up making the most financial sense due to simple marketability.
‘The Matrix’ is the former holder of three of the belts now in Kambosos’ possession, having lost them to Lopez in one of last year’s most notable contests. He fights contender Richard Commey next month, and should he be successful, presents a serious challenge for the newly-crowned king.
The Ukrainian had looked to be on a collision course for a rematch with Teofimo, and that fight could remain on the table if ‘Hi-Tech’ can defeat the one man to ever beat Lopez. On paper this is the toughest fight Kambosos could take, with the possible exception of the Lopez rematch.
Another fighter with an upcoming date in the diary, the WBC champion defends his belt against Joseph ‘Jo Jo’ Diaz next weekend. If this past weekend taught us anything, it’s that nothing in this sport is a foregone conclusion. Diaz is a live underdog, having reigned as IBF super featherweight champion in the past. For the purposes of this exercise though we will make an assumption Haney can’t afford to make, and assume that he wins.
Haney is coming off a career-best victory over Jorge Linares, and has made three defences of the WBC lightweight strap. Still only 23, this bout would afford ‘Ferocious’ a crack at another boxing’s young superstars, and comes with the added bonus of establishing an undisputed champion at the weight.
The movie star looks and social media savvy of the 23-year-old ‘Flash’ make him a marketer's dream. Inactivity, brought on by mental health struggles and then a hand injury, has kept ‘KingRy’ out of the ring since January of this year.
This fight makes sense for both parties. For Garcia, it would represent a big comeback fight for the unified title. For Kambosos, it is an opportunity to get one of boxing’s most vaunted young prospects on his record before Garcia gains further seasoning and experience.
Stylistically, this match would be fascinating. Garcia has dynamite in his hands, but has never fought a boxer who brings the sort of sustained pressure attack that the Australian boasts. This could wind up being the closest fight on this list.
The 24-year-old is as ‘can’t-miss’ as they come when it comes to predicting the pound-for-pound lists in the future. The Olympic silver medalist took a huge step-up in class in his previous outing, stopping WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring.
Stepping up in weight to face Kambosos could be seen as premature for a fighter who has only just clinched junior lightweight gold. But Stevenson moved up from featherweight immediately after winning that division’s WBO belt in 2019. If the money was right, it’s easy to imagine Stevenson relishing becoming a three-weight champion at such a tender age.
You would have to give the edge in power to Kambosos for this fight, but Shakur is one of the slickest fighters operating today, and would certainly back himself against the Australian’s come-forward style.
Lightweight and the surrounding districts have the highest concentration of world class talent in boxing today. Beyond the names mentioned, there are other quality bouts to be had.
Richard Commey is a former world champion, and should he find a way past Lomachenko then a ‘Battle Of The Underdogs’ with Kambosos could be great fun. Gervonta Davis made a sojourn to the division above in his last fight, but is set to return to defend his secondary WBA bauble against Isaac Cruz this weekend. The hard-hitting Floyd Mayweather protege would ensure fireworks, but perhaps presents more risk than reward.
Jorge Linares is still floating near the top of the world rankings, and while past his best, would offer a nice opportunity to add a big name to the record. No stranger to fighting on the road, Linares might be the best option for a possible homecoming fight in Australia.