By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing
2020 Hall of Fame inductee Lou DiBella spoke to Peter Maniatis of the KO Show about George Kambosos versus Devin Haney fight and the best boxer he’s seen fight live.
You are a former HBO executive and promoted Deontay Wilder, Bernard Hopkins and Paulie Malignaggi and also played yourself in the Rocky movie. What is like to be promoting George Kambosos vs. Devin Haney in Australia?
“I love Melbourne. I haven’t been to Melbourne since I was in my twenties, so it’s a long time. I love the culture and the beautiful scenery, the great food. I am looking forward to being in Melbourne – not only for the boxing match but just to visit and enjoy it again. At this point of my career and I have been doing this for over thirty years – I got into boxing in my twenties. I am now over that sixty mark. I am getting inducted into the Hall of Fame the week after the Kambosos vs. Haney fight. I am in the later stages of my career. I don’t want to be doing this in my nineties like King and Arum.
“So to have a young champion like Kambosos, a kid, this super confident who came out of nowhere to prove to the world. He and his dad knew. I thought he was good. That’s why I signed him. Peter Kahn knew – that’s why he brought him to me. He wasn’t getting chased by promoters. He and his dad said from the beginning they were going to be champions. George said he was going to be the best lightweight in the world. Now people take him seriously since he has proven what he is capable of against Teofimo Lopez and now he is getting that opportunity again at home against a great fighter who is skilled and a slick boxer in Devin Haney who also doesn’t know how to lose. Credit to Haney. He has shown a lot of grit and willingness to roll with the punches and do what is necessary to make this fight happen. Now he is faced with the possibility of fighting without his dad in his corner and he is in Australia now getting ready to fight. George is ready for this fight. Haney is ready for this fight. I think it’s going to be a sensational match in the ring. If anyone bets against George Kambosos, I think they’re foolish.
There is going to be 55,000 people there and 30,000 Greeks. The adrenaline will be going through the roof. Your thoughts?
“It’ll be going through the roof. It’s going to be the pro-George environment that he has ever fought in. People have got to remember he took a real hard road to the top. He didn’t get any favors. I didn’t give any favors because I didn’t get any favors. He had to travel the world and fight on undercards in different countries. He fought for not a lot of money. He had to earn the opportunity to fight Teofimo Lopez after becoming the mandatory. No one was going to give him this big fight unless he forced it. He forced it in hostile territory against Lee Selby. Everything that has been asked of George he has risen to that occasion.
“I have worked with some of the most confident and talented fighters in the world. One that had ungodly talent and self-confidence was Sergio Martinez. Even Sergio taken into account, I have never worked with someone who has that overwhelming belief in himself. Deontay Wilder could envision his victories. He could believe and perceive it. George has that mentality and he doesn’t have to talk about it. It just pours out of him. He doesn’t believe that anyone can beat him. He works non-stop. His work ethic is incredible. If you know him and watch him work it’s impossible not to admire what he has done and not to believe what he is capable of doing.
Honestly, if he beats Devin Haney he has got to be considered a top ten pound-for-pound boxer in the world. If he beats Devin Haney, he becomes the biggest Australian fighter in my memory. Jeff Fenech was a star and Kostya Tszyu was a star. There were other stars and upcoming stars like Tim Tszyu. If George wins this fight there is no one on the Australian continen bigger than George Kambosos. I think if he wins this fight he can make claim to be a top ten pound-for-pound fighter.
When will you be arriving in Melbourne and how big is the magnitude of the Kambosos v Haney fight on the world level that you have promoted?
“Anytime you going to put well over 40,000 people into a stadium. There are very few fighters that can do over 40,000 people anywhere in the world. In the United States, you have Canelo Alvarez in one. It takes an incredibly big fight to get into the 40,000 to 50,000 to 55,000 range. To have their country embracing their hometown star. He has never really fought there. Even if we do 45,000 it will be the second biggest fight there. George hasn’t fought in front of 4500 people in Australia – forget about 45,000 people. His star power has skyrocketed. The Australian fans are embracing and supporting him. This is a huge event of worldwide magnitude. When you go online on social media people are talking about this fight all over the world. It will be televised by Sky and ESPN to Canada and the USA. It will be televised all over Europe. It’s a huge event and a privilege to be associated with. The only other time I’ve promoted a fight with a similar live gate was when Sergio Martinez fought as champion in a soccer stadium in Argentina against Martin Murray. There were 50,000 people there. This is going to be the same energized, crazy environment with George and the Melbourne community. Devin is going to have to have his head together and be super prepared to be able to compete in that environment.
What is your prediction on the fight?
“I think it’s going to be a sensational fight. I think George is going to win but I don’t think it’s going to be noncompetitive. I don’t think George is going to roll over Haney. Haney is too skilled to be rolled over. I expect George to win a decision but probably pull away later in the fight. I think Devin is an incredibly skilled boxer. His movement is great. I’d be surprised if Devin doesn’t win some rounds in the fight. But George’s pressure and his rate of activity and George has more power. If you want to look at Devin’s game and one area where he is not particularly known for is his power, so that is an area where George has an advantage. George also has the advantage of 50,000 people lifting him up during the biggest fight of his career. I favor George. I believe in George and George believes in himself. I am never picking against George again. As long as he keeps preparing himself the way he does. I am expecting him to win but I do think this is a very difficult fight. I think it’s an incredible mixture of styles. Devin is technically very sound. His ring movement is tremendously skilled. He has got the whole package. I don’t think he has the tenacity, the work rate or the punching power of George. I don’t bet but to anyone that does, I would say George by late stoppage or a decision win.
Who is the best fighter you’ve seen fight live?
“Good question. I have seen Ray Leonard fight live. I’ve seen Duran fight live and Hearns fight live. Those four kings Hearns, Hagler, Leonard, Duran I didn’t see them fight live until they were well past their prime. So the best fighter I have ever seen live it might be fair to say Floyd Mayweather. I don’t think Floyd is the best ever. Floyd thinks he is the best ever. He is one of the best ever. He is securely in the top ten of the Best Ever. I think Floyd is underrated. Floyd understood it is the sweet science and if you don’t need to get hit why do you want to. Some people resent the fact that he wasn’t in a lot of wars. These memorable give and take battles. That’s because he was that good. I don’t rate Floyd above Ray or the other fighters I mentioned.