Boxing is a mess. Whether it’s warring promoters, Mad Max levels of oversight or Ponzi-by-numbers business models, the sport can’t stay out of its own stupid way. Yet every now and then, a thing of beauty is fished from the bog – a selfless act, a genius tactic or just a moment worth sharing. I hope to find and highlight these here weekly. (C’mon, boxing, three a week ain’t too much to ask!) Got an idea or tip of your own? Feel free to send it my way, and I’ll be sure to give you a nod if it’s used.

  1. And an Aussie irritant shall lead them

You’ve got to hand it to George Kambosos Jr. He gave us a singular boxing moment back in 2021, when he traveled halfway across the world to “steal the zero” and, far more importantly, shut the yapper of Teofimo Lopez at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Seen as a near-epic, career-making upset at the time, the performance has faded a bit under the harsh light of time.

But more damningly, in the intervening three years, Kambosos seemed to find it his duty to fill the void of curated buffoonery Lopez had so expertly represented. Whether it was the hard pivots between incessant whining and relentless boasting, his resemblance to a certain “Entourage” member or just the neck tattoos, taking Australia’s 30-year-old Kambosos seriously had become an increasingly difficult endeavor.

But as he (likely) slips into a lesser tier of watchable world-class fighters following Sunday’s pillar-to-post loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko, it’s time to hand it to Kambosos again. In his short period in boxing’s limelight, he got one thing right: He didn’t waste it.

After knocking off Lopez and taking over the unified lightweight championship at age 28, Kambosos, could have taken boxing’s low, lucrative road. Instead, he angled straight up the mountain – Devin Haney, a Haney rematch, Maxi Hughes (to catch his breath) and, finally, Lomachenko. Rather than milking his prime, as well as the adulation of a country – not to mention all the opportunities it presented – Kambosos went 1-3 testing his mettle during his peak fighting years. How refreshing is that?

Look, you can’t blame fighters for looking after their careers and long-term health. (Who else will?) But as boxing fans, who pay ungodly sums and do their best to keep their heads above water treading in oceans of corruption, you can damn well call B.S. when you see it. (Note to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who never fail to remind us of their greatness: Show us, don’t tell us.)

Or, fighters, just heed the advice Kambosos offered after his Loma loss:

“F*** the cherry picks. Forget the zero. Fight the best.”

Etch it into the family crest, throw on that coat of arms and ride into battle three weekends a year, and – win or lose – boxing fans will sing songs about your glory.

  1. Sweet victory for “Sugar Neekz”

Before Sunday, Cherneka “Sugar Neekz” Johnson was, fairly or not, known in boxing circles mostly as the woman who bared it all (sort of) at the weigh-in ahead of last June’s clash with Ellie Scotney in Wembley Arena. Johnson hit the scales with a topless torso body-painted with an OnlyFans logo, then dropped a heartbreaker decision in which she was cut on a clash of heads and lost her junior featherweight belt to Scotney.

Internet trolls, as they do, described the stunt as “seedy” and, in some cases, seemed to dismiss Johnson as a fighter. There was worse, of course. But Johnson, a 29-year-old New Zealander, took any criticism in stride, showed up for Sunday’s fight in Perth against Nina Hughes with an OnlyFans ad on her trunks, then endured an announcing snafu before learning she had, in fact, done enough in the eyes of judges to swipe Hughes’ bantamweight title.

Call it revenge, karma, whatever. Johnson (16-2, 6 KOs) is now a two-division titleholder and significantly more enriched after leaning into all of her assets rather than skulking through an unforgiving sport that is doubly hostile to women based on some inane puritanical ideal. She has credited her association with OnlyFans for providing the resources to travel and forego a civilian job in order to make the most of her boxing career, and the fact that she estimates the first ad alone tripled all of her previous earnings as a fighter says far more about us than it does about her. Good for Sweet Neekz (whatever that means). Go get yours.

  1. A crazy-eyed, cuddly man of our times

It will be old news to some, but this week we again caught sight of a key piece of gear that Oleksandr Usyk keeps nearby in his travels. It’s the Eeyore stuffed animal – named Liolia – given to the unified heavyweight champ by his daughter, Yelizaveta.

It’s one of those I’m-not-crying-you’re-crying stories that makes rooting against Usyk almost impossible. “It’s my daughter’s. She gave it to me to be my talisman,” Usyk told “The Sun” in 2022. “When we left Ukraine together but our roads separated in Europe, my daughter gave this toy to me and said, ‘This needs to be right next to you.’”

Sure, #GirlDad is trending. But who was gonna say boo about it otherwise? A man who shows up to testosterone-soaked gyms and boxing-press gatherings while unironically wearing a topknot and clutching a Winnie the Pooh doll is, in no uncertain terms, not to be trifled with.

Jason Langendorf is a BoxingScene editor, former ESPN and Sporting News editor and longtime journalist whose professional interests range from boxing to technology to addiction and mental health. If you have a tip, a comment or desperately need a Johnny Cash karaokeist to work your bar or bat mitzvah celebration, email him immediately.

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