Former unified and lineal lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. (21-2, 10 KOs) narrowly won in a grueling 12-round majority decision against tough Maxi Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs). This intense figh took place Saturday evening at the FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, winning Kambosos a mandatory shot at the coveted IBF crown.
Bouncing back from back-to-back challenges on home soil, Kambosos returned to the ring with renewed energy. Yet Hughes, a swift English southpaw with a recent seven-win streak, expertly kept Kambosos’ aggression at bay using strategic distancing and clever footwork.
A crucial moment was in the fifth round when Hughes capitalized on his swift footwork to land left punches, one of which left a cut above Kambosos’ right eye. An accidental head clash in the subsequent round resulted in a cut above Hughes’ own left eye.
The close rounds had both boxers strategically setting up shots, with feints and jabs being the weapons of choice. Hughes found success with his counter left hand, while Kambosos, feeling the pressure, ramped up his pace in the final round.
Emerging victorious, Kambosos claimed his mandatory position with scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 115-113. “We won the fight by winning the majority of the rounds. Maxi Hughes fought well in a few rounds, but a couple of good rounds don’t ensure victory,” Kambosos stated. “We selected him because he was a tough test. Not many would take on such a challenge after losses. His style was difficult to fight, but it makes for an interesting match. I need to bring more grit to future fights.”
Hughes, expressing his disappointment, said, “No one expected me to be on par with George. Tonight, I demonstrated that my hand should have been raised. I don’t wish to overshadow George’s moment. My footwork was my strong, allowing me to dodge and land clean shots. While it’s hard to accept the loss, the takeaway is that everyone now recognizes who Maxi Hughes is.”