George Kambosos may have claimed his biggest win yet as he ramped up the mental assault on Devin Haney without saying a word.
George Kambosos Jr. claimed a win in the mental war before his fight against Devin Haney for the undisputed lightweight championship of the world.
Bad blood between the pair has been simmering away ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster as both boxers look to become the first man to hold all four lightweight titles in the four-belt era.
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Kambosos had already taken a swipe at “rat” Haney for passing on information about Teofimo Lopez before the Aussie’s fight against him last November, but there were no such verbal barbs thrown at a press conference on Friday.
However, the stare-down at the end of proceedings said everything you need to know about the two fighters and what will happen on Sunday afternoon.
Draped in the four belts between them, Haney and Kambosos stood toe-to-toe and glared at each other for 76 seconds by news.com.au’s count — but it may well have been an eternity.
As journalists and the fighters’ entourages spilled out of the Richmond Rowing Club, the oxygen was sucked out of the room as neither man wanted to show any weakness.
It even started getting awkward as MC Warren Smith rattled off the details for the coming days while Kambosos and Haney kept the staring competition going.
“Thank you, gentlemen, it has been quite intense during the course of the week and it promises to be that way with all the belts on the line this Sunday at Marvel Stadium,” Smith said.
Finally, after those 76 long seconds, the 23-year-old American relented, turning first to the cameras.
Kambosos gave the crowd a knowing look and joined his rival.
They say the eyes are the window to the soul and the Aussie unified champion said he saw all he needed to when looking into Haney.
Asked what he saw during the stare down, Kambosos told news.com.au: “Everything I’ve always known about Devin, he is very fearful. He’s very nervous and bring on Sunday.”
While Haney is still only 23, he boasts a 27-0 record but Kambosos believes he’s already won the mental war.
“A hundred per cent I’m in his head. I’ve ruffled a lot of feathers and I’m just having fun enjoying the moment,” Kambosos told news.com.au.
“I don’t think he’s taking it too personally. But I think what I’ve said is enough to question himself and start to cop a lot of pressure on himself.
“I’m just ready for a good fight on Sunday.”
Haney denied the mental games were getting to him.
“Coming in, I knew he would try anything he can to get me off my game and get me unfocused,” he said.
“He can say whatever he wants to say. I’m going to do what I’m going to do regardless when we step in that ring. I will come out victorious by any means.”
Legendary fight announcer Michael Buffer told news.com.au whoever does claim the belts will have to be able to dig deep, making the mental battle all the more important.
“I think there’s a slight contrast in styles,” Buffer said. “Both fighters have what we like to call the will to win, you know the ability to dig deep if it goes to that 11th or 12th round. I think we’re going to see a great contest all the way to the end.
“I don’t think it’ll be a knockout. These fighters have knockout power but are not known as knockout artists. They’re physically fit, mentally focused and we’re going to see a great contest.”