Maxi Hughes was left “absolutely devastated” after losing his IBO world lightweight title to Australia’s George Kambosos Jr on a controversial majority decision in Oklahoma.
Hughes, who impressed throughout the 12 rounds with his footwork and technical performance, seemed to have done more than enough to retain the belt he had held for over two years.
However, to the Yorkshireman’s disbelief, two of the judges scored Kambosos Jr the winner – one by six rounds – prompting boos from the crowd at FireLake Arena.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” Hughes admitted. “Nobody thought I was supposed to be in George’s league.
“Tonight, I came and I showed that I should have had my hand raised. I don’t want to take George’s moment.
“I used my footwork, I made him miss and pay and I landed the cleaner shots.
“I don’t want to sound like a sore loser, and I will watch it and assess it, but everyone here now knows who Maxi Hughes is.”
Judges Josef Mason and Gerald Ritter scored the fight 117-111 and 115-113 respectively in favour of Kambosos Jr, while David Sutherland marked it as a 114-114 draw.
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Hughes, who had won his last seven contests, opened up a cut above his opponent’s right eye after a flurry of shots in the fifth round.
Kambosos Jr, a former unified world champion, stepped up the pace in the later rounds but it looked as though the 33-year-old had done enough to keep him at bay.
The judges felt otherwise – yet Kambosos Jr, who now becomes the mandatory challenger for the IBF title, did not rule out a rematch with Hughes.
“Our next step is the IBF world title, so I’ll go and get that but he’s going to bounce back,” said the Australian. “He’s a tough challenger and it was an honour to share the ring with him.
“If the opportunity is there, we’ll give him another rematch. We won the fight by many rounds but that’s no discredit to Maxi Hughes.
“He had a couple of good rounds but a couple of good rounds doesn’t win you a fight. That’s the reason we chose him, he’s a hard test.”