A fascinating youth vs experience clash tops the latest Matchroom USA show on DAZN this Saturday night, as WBC Lightweight champion, Devin Haney defends his gold against the excellent three-weight world champion, Jorge Linares.
Haney (25-0, KO15) is still only 22, and has had a bright start to professional life after a promising, but short amateur career.
‘The Dream’ turned over aged just 17, and, due to minimum age restrictions in the USA, his first four contests took place in Mexico.
After winning fringe WBC, IBF and WBO belts, Haney picked up the interim version of the WBC title in September 2019, and he really came of age, turning in a punch perfect performance in forcing Zaur Abdullaev to retire after four rounds at Madison Square Garden.
Devin would later become the latest born world champion as the WBC upgraded him to full champion status, with Vasyl Lomachenko becoming ‘Franchise’ champion.
A successful first defence against Alfredo Santiago came at a cost, as Haney injured a shoulder that required surgery in a landslide points win.
Devin returned to action in November 2020 with another wide win on the cards, this time against Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Haney now faces a stern test of his credentials in the form of Jorge Linares (47-5, KO29), and a lot rides on how much the Venezuelan has left after a long, hard career.
The Tokyo-based 35-year-old has boxed all over the world in a professional odyssey that began when Haney was just four years old in 2002.
The Venezuelan first captured world honours in July 2007, halting Jorge Larios in ten in Las Vegas to take the vacant WBC Featherweight crown, and two fights later, he captured the vacant WBA strap at Super Featherweight, stopping Whyber Garcia in five in Panama City.
One defence followed before Linares was stunned inside a round by Juan Carlos Salgado in Japan, and, after four straight wins on his comeback, back-to-back stoppage defeats to Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson left Jorge’s career in tatters.
Linares rebuilt well though, and six wins got him back into contention, and he then won the vacant WBC Lightweight belt with a fourth round knockout of Francisco Javier Prieto to become a triple weight champion.
He would defend against the likes of Kevin Mitchell (TKO10) and Ivan Cano (KO4), before being stripped of his belt after a hand injury, but he would claim the WBA crown with back to back points wins against Manchester’s Anthony Crolla, and then defended against Luke Campbell (Split decision) and Mercito Gesta (Unanimous) to earn a crack at Vasyl Lomachenko in May 2018.
In a thrilling contest, the Ukrainian was down in the sixth and the pair couldn’t be split after ten rounds before Lomachenko dropped and halted Jorge in the tenth.
Again, he rebuilt, but a move to ten stone ended in failure, as Pablo Cesar Cano dropped him three times in a ruthless one round win.
Linares has won twice since back at Lightweight, his last a fourth round knockout win in February 2020 against Carlos Morales in Anaheim.
Prediction: We will find out this weekend if Haney is as good as he says he is, and with old amateur rival, Ryan Garcia, and Lightweight number one, Teofimo Lopez all seeing their recent stock rise, ‘The Dream’ will want to keep pace with an impressive display against Linares.
Jorge has been down many times in his career, and I think Devin can drop Linares at some point during the contest on the way to a clear points win.
There is plenty of British and Irish interest on the bill. Martin J Ward (24-1-2, KO11) is on a run of five straight wins since a May 2018 stoppage loss to James Tennyson, and the Brentwood-based Super Featherweight takes part in an IBF eliminator against South Africa’s Azinga Fuzile (14-1, KO8).
Fuzile is coming off a stoppage loss in his last fight, halted in eight rounds by Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov in September 2019, and Ward is in good form, and can take a points win here.
Chantelle Cameron (13-0, KO7) has bags of potential, and ‘Il Capo’ puts her WBC Super Lightweight title on the line for the first time, as the Northampton native takes on Puerto Rican, Melissa Hernandez (23-7-3, KO7).
Cameron won her belt in October 2020, taking all ten rounds in an excellent points win against Adriana dos Santos Araujo in Milton Keynes, and the 30-year-old has been largely punch perfect in her career to date.
Hernandez is a former WBC champion at Featherweight, but is at the back end of her career, and is 5-4 since shipping her belt in a rematch with Jelena Mrdjenovich in May 2013. Cameron should retain on the scorecards.
Jason Quigley (18-1, KO14) continues his rebuild after a 2019 loss to Tureano Johnson, and he should be able to take a win over the distance against son of the legend, Shane Mosley Junior (17-3, KO10), who has never previously been stopped.
Amari Jones (1-0, KO1) aims to make it two from two, and he can stop Jonathan Burns (3-3, KO0) early on.
New Jersey’s Khalil Coe makes his debut, and the talented former USA amateur star can remove Darian Weeks (1-1, KO0) inside schedule.
Reshat Mati and Ramla Ali are also in action.