Devin Haney put on a controlled boxing clinic for nearly ten rounds, and then had to come through a major crisis, as he defended his WBC Lightweight title at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas with a unanimous points win.
Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) fought for the first time since November 2020 in a landslide points win against Yuriorkis Gamboa, whilst Linares (47-6, 29 KOs) had already scaled the heights at 135 pounds before, as well as ruling at two further lower weights, and this was his last chance to remain at elite level at 35-years-old.
Haney began alertly, wary of the Venezuelan’s power, and ‘The Dream’ went to the body of his opponent early on, as well as utilising an accurate jab, but Linares countered with some decent hooks of his own as the champion came in.
The second saw more accuracy from the favourite, and he was boxing smartly, staying out of trouble wherever possible, and Linares was only having sporadic success.
Haney, who added emerging trainer Ben Davison to his team was relaxing and going through the gears, tripling up his jab in the third and stopping the challenger from getting close enough to cause any significant damage, although ‘El Nino de Oro’ was continuously inching forward.
By round six, the visitor was enjoying more success as Haney’s footwork slowed slightly, and the challenger nailed him with a big right hand towards the end of the frame.
Haney continued to control the action though, and was clearly on top until the fight entered the championship rounds. The bout turned on its head right at the end of the tenth, when a hard right hand connected with Haney’s chin, and his legs were clearly wobbled as he groggily walked back to his corner on the bell.
That success spurred the 35-year-old on, and he went on the attack in the penultimate round, with Devin’s legs still not fully underneath him, and he cranked up the pressure in search of a stoppage, as the fight reached its climax.
Linares definitely needed a knockout, and he again went on the front foot in search of it, but Haney had regained his senses, and he did just enough to fend the veteran off him, holding on as the fight went to the scorecards.
Two scores of 116-112, and a third at 115-113, ensured Haney remained champion and moved on to potential future meetings with WBA (Super), IBF and WBO champion, Teofimo Lopez, old amateur rival Ryan Garcia and Vasyl Lomachenko who returns to action next month.
Cameron retains WBC title
Chantelle Cameron gained good exposure in Las Vegas, and she impressively defended her WBC Super Lightweight title with a fifth round stoppage of Melissa Hernandez.
There had been much trash talk in the build-up, and the stoppage came arguably too early, with less than 20 seconds remaining of the fifth, but Cameron (14-0, 8 KOs) had dominated to that point anyway, dropping Hernandez (23-8-3, 7 KOs) in the fourth with a volley of punches before the end came a round later.
She was firing back, but under heavy fire herself, and the fight was waved off.
Fuzile halts Ward
Martin J Ward saw his hopes of a world title shot go up in smoke, as he was stopped in seven rounds by South Africa’s Azinga Fuzile (15-1, 9 KOs) in an IBF Super Featherweight title eliminator.
Ward (24-2-2, 11 KOs) was dropped in the fourth round and by a massive check right hook towards the end of the seventh, and the towel was thrown in by his corner, a wise move as he looked to have suffered a leg injury that was affecting his mobility.
Quigley edges Mosley Jr
Jason Quigley took the vacant WBO NABO Middleweight title with a tight majority verdict win over Shane Mosley Jr (17-4, 10 KOs) in a quality contest.
Scores of 97-93 and 96-94 overruled a third judge, who had the fight 95-95.
Quigley (19-1, 14 KOs) started slowly, but took over down the stretch.
New York Welterweight Reshat Mati moved to 10-0 (7 KOs) with a competitive six round points win against Ryan Pino 8-7-2, 4 KOs).
Two scores of 58-56 and a third at 60-54 ensured the 22-year-old of Albanian Heritage remained undefeated.
Ramla Ali (3-0) also stayed unbeaten, as she took all six rounds of her Featherweight bout with Mikayla Nebel (4-9, 1 KO).
Khalil Coe (1-0, 1 KO) made his pro debut, and the New Jersey Light Heavyweight stopped Nathaniel Tad (2-5, 1 KO) in two rounds.
Amari Jones (2-0, 2 KOs) made it two from two as a professional, halting Jonathan Ryan Burrs (3-4) inside the first frame of their scheduled Super Welterweight four rounder.