Maxi Hughes believes that George Kambosos Jr has to “throw caution to the wind” and fight like Orlando Salido to stand any chance of victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko on Sunday.

Kambosos Jr and Lomachenko contest the IBF lightweight title at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, and Hughes – widely considered unfortunate not to have been awarded victory over the Australian in July 2023, when Kambosos Jr was given a controversial majority decision – expects the his former opponent to get stopped.

At 30, Kambosos Jr perhaps has youth on his side – the once great Lomachenko is 36 and far from a natural lightweight – but Hughes can only see cause for optimism for him if he succeeds in fighting with the same rough tactics that meant Salido was even more controversially scored a winner over Lomachenko at featherweight in 2014.

Ukraine’s Lomachenko, in some ways similarly, was considered unfortunate by some observers not to have been scored the winner over Devin Haney in May 2023 – Haney twice eased to victory over Kambosos Jr in 2022 – and Hughes said: “[Kambosos Jr’s] got to throw caution to the wind. He’s not gonna outdo Loma in footwork, so he’s not going to be able to get in – he’s got to take shots to get in, and he’s gotta rough him up, like Orlando Salido did. He’s gotta apply those tactics, but at the same time, if he tries to do that he could walk on to something and get hurt. 

“He’s got to be willing to do that – that’s his chance to do it. I don’t think he’s good enough to outbox Loma, so his chance to win is to apply those roughhouse tactics and be fitter than he ever has been before, and if need be keep them tactics up – a high work-rate for 12 rounds.

“I don’t give George much chance, unless it goes to points and the judges cook it. Unless Lomachenko – ‘cause by the time the fight comes around it’ll be just under a year since Loma’s last fight, with Haney, so he’s a little bit older – unless Father Time’s caught up with him, which I don’t think it will have, because I do think he’s one of the elite of the elite, I think George is gonna get stopped. 

“He goes on about being this Spartan warrior – I stiffened his legs up, so he’s not this Greek god that he thinks he is, and Loma will absolutely pepper the life out of him and will stop him. If he doesn’t stop him, George probably won’t quit, so his corner may have to pull him out.

“I’ve got his number. He’s probably got slightly faster hands than me, but I made up for that ‘cause I’ve got better timing than him. Loma’s got everything. George is fit; he’s game; he is this warrior, and that’s the reason why when I did hurt him in the fifth, I didn’t really go for it, because I know what George is good at. 

“When he gets into a bit of a fight like that, a bit like Nigel Benn was very good when he was hurt – he were very dangerous – that’s what we thought. ‘I’ve wobbled him – George might be a bit dangerous.’ So we didn’t step on it. As well as that we thought we were still very much in control, and we didn’t need to risk it by stepping on it. But looking back, I needed to knock him out, and there was still a chance that I’d have got disqualified for that anyway. There were no way I were winning that out there [in Shawnee, Oklahoma].”

Hughes was then asked if, off the back of his experience against Kambosos Jr, he was confident Lomachenko would get the judges’ decision if he earned it, and he responded: “I’d like to think that. They treated Haney with that respect [in Australia] and give him the decision so I’d like to think, but also in Australia was the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn scenario [when Horn was awarded a unanimous decision in Brisbane in 2017], which was ridiculous, so it depends on the judges. He got outboxed for 24 rounds [by Haney].”

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