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George Kambosos Jr faces toughest test after Devin Haney defeat in lightweight title fight

George Kambosos' future is both clear and under a question mark. (AAP: James Ross)

It might take a bit of time for George Kambosos to pick through the wreckage of his defeat against Devin Haney on Sunday.

Kambosos was both bullish and humble in defeat, saying he thought the fight was "very close" and that he would "change a few things and get him back".

In reality though, it wasn't that close.

The opening rounds were tight and tactical, that much was to be expected. But throughout those teasing, tentative early exchanges, Haney was laying the groundwork for the dominance that was to come.

The contest was an untidy scrap of a fight. (Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)

The hardest thing to take might be that the American didn't bring anything the Kambosos camp wouldn't have expected him to bring to the centre of Docklands stadium — namely a clean jab, supreme footwork and extraordinary elusiveness.

Kambosos admitted as much post-fight.

"He just boxed his game," Kambosos said.

"He moved, he boxed, he didn't really want to come and fight too much, but that's his game."

But knowing the challenge is not the same as dealing with it. And, against a fighter of Haney's skill, it's hard to see what he could do differently.

Every time Kambosos came forward, Haney bopped him on the nose with a scoring — if not desperately powerful jab — and ducked out the way again, sliding to the left and right, negating all of the Australian's strengths.

Against Teofimo Lopez, Kambosos was able to fight fire with fire, embrace the entertainer within and endure a war with a much larger man, unloading with his overhand right and tenderising with his left hook.

Haney negated those strengths with a performance almost Floyd Mayweather-like in its execution such was his skill level.

Devin Haney fought out of his well-established playbook, jab and move. (Getty Images: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc)

Kambosos may as well have been fighting a waterfall, his punches sliding off his opponent thanks to the American's near-constant, relentless movement.

In Sunday's post-fight media conference, Kambosos admitted that the jab was a problem, saying his counter punches were not enough but that he hadn't been hurt badly by anything Haney had thrown.

"My body doesn't feel like it's been through a 12-round war like it was with Lopez," Kambosos said, after reiterating his belief that he could beat Haney when they fight again.

It's hard to see how.

On Sunday, Haney's disciplined movement nullified Kambosos' speed and, when Kambosos was able to exert some pressure, Haney simply got in close and tied things up — an inelegant yet hugely successful escape clause that he used throughout the contest.

It wasn't pretty, but it didn't need to be.

Haney is different. Entertainment is not his game. Winning is.

Throwback Kambosos a willing player in boxing's infuriating game

George Kambosos wrote a rematch clause into his contact and hopes to fight Haney again in November. (Getty Images: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc)

Post-fight, Haney paid Kambosos credit for giving him the opportunity, something he said the other "so-called champions" in the lightweight division failed to do.

And that's true, the other big names at 135 pounds — Lopez, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia — didn't proffer Haney a shot at their unbeaten records for one reason only — Haney's style is such that he could beat anyone. He is, after all, a superb fighter.

That didn't bother Kambosos though who, to his credit, said all along that he wanted the toughest challenges.

He offered Haney this fight after a deal to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko — the former champion who is arguably the best of the remaining lightweight contenders — fell through.

"F*** the records," Kambosos spat at the end of his in-ring interview, "This is what it's all about."

"I wanted to take the best test, the hardest test.

In that way, Kambosos is something of a throwback.

Sadly, few fighters share that attitude, most preferring to preserve their unbeaten records rather than risk it all for glory.

Now though, the other lightweight kings — Davis, Garcia and Lomachenko — will need to challenge Haney if they are to claim their share of the world titles.

The positive for Kambosos is that boxers rarely remain undisputed for long due to the impossible task of managing competing mandatory challengers.

George Kambosos will most likely take up his rematch option. (Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)

That will free up at least some of the belts at some point in the not-too-distant future but first, it's most likely that Kambosos will get his money-spinning rematch in Melbourne.

"Yes, 100 per cent," Kambosos said when asked about a rematch.

"This is going to make me hungry, this is going to be the adversity that I've had to go through my whole career, my whole life.

"I'm not ducking or dodging nobody. If it makes sense… I'll do it again," Haney said by way of response.

Judging by Sunday's encounter, in doing so, Haney will likely pick up another comfortable points victory.

But Kambosos has never done things the easy way. And, given his insatiable desire to test himself and push his limits, you wouldn't bank on him pulling off the kind of shock that propelled him into the public consciousness in the first place.

Regaining his titles won't be easy, but Kambosos' race is far from run yet.

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