The New Four Kings Era Approaches In Boxing | But Will The Game Let The Best Fight The Best?

Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images, Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images, Al Bello/Getty Images, Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

When Devin Haney became the undisputed lightweight champion of the world over the weekend in Melbourne, Australia, he signaled a few changes in boxing.

For one, he is the first undisputed lightweight champion in the four-belt era and that legacy-building moment is forever. When Haney defeated George Kambosos Jr. via unanimous decision he established a lineage treasured in boxing: He is the man who beat the man who beat the man.

Kambosos Jr. became the unified lightweight champion when he defeated Teofimo Lopez by split decision in November 2021. Before that Lopez definitively beat Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020.

Tank

Throw in Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who is already a multi-weight class world champion and the WBA (regular) lightweight champion, not to be confused with Haney’s WBA (super) lightweight belt, and you have the makings of a potential new four king era.

Now they have to all fight each other, which is not an easy feat in boxing.

In the early 1980s, four names defined the greatness that boxing needed in the post-Muhammad Ali era, and they were not heavyweights.

The Original Four Kings

Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns, and “Sugar” Ray Leonard dominated the early ’80s.

Except for Hagler, who is considered one of the most dominant middleweights in boxing history, the other three jumped around weight classes from welterweight to super middleweight challenging each other.

Win, lose, or draw, they did not attempt to protect their records. They fought the best of their generation, and more importantly, they all fought each other. It has gone down as one of the great eras in boxing history and the epic action that is guaranteed when the best fight the best.

The New Four Kings?

If boxing politics do not get in the way, there is a maturation point that the sport is in, which can generate these types of matchups again.

Immediately after Haney’s win, the Twitterverse went crazy, clamoring for a Haney vs. Davis lightweight showdown. Due to Haney fighting almost the perfect fight against Kambosos Jr., the world wondered what it would look like for the two to face each other next.

Kambosos Jr. was smart enough to put a rematch clause into his contract and said after the fight that losing was part of a bigger plan of “deception” to make the rematch even more prominent than their first pairing. That is possible, considering the bad blood, but Haney looked so good that the interest might not be what Kambosos Jr. is hoping.

Tank vs. Lopez = The Next Move?

After Tank’s phenomenal TKO over Rolly Romero at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he needs an excellent lightweight scrap to capitalize on the momentum.

Who better than Teofimo Lopez Jr.? He only has one loss, to Kambosos, whom Haney defeated. Before that Lopez was being hailed as the man for dismantling Lomachenko. He also is from Brooklyn, where Tank set an attendance record in his last fight.

Of course, with Tank working with Premier Boxing Champions and Lopez with Top Rank, challenges due exist, but as we have seen in the past, anything is possible.

With outliers like Ryan Garcia looking to get back in the conversation at a high level and Shakur Stevenson itching to move up in weight in the future, get your popcorn ready, because the new school leaders are defining a new era.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.