Devin Haney secured the biggest and most high-profile victory of his career on Saturday in his coming-of-age fight in Las Vegas.
Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) put on a near shutout for over nine rounds against three-weight world champion, Jorge Linares in front of 5000 fans at the Michelob Ultra Arena.
However, ‘The Dream’ was a victim of his own aggression, which had been a key component of his success up until he was caught flush with a right hand, which had him off balance as he returned to the corner.
The 22-year-old saw out the last two rounds to successfully retain his WBC Lightweight world title, but has received wide criticism since for the way he was shook and responded to the adversity, by holding Linares (47-6, 29 KOs) rather than engaging in the last two rounds.
Nevertheless, some of the condemnation appears somewhat unwarranted. Haney answered question marks over his ability to trade on the inside and controlled the pace of the fight superbly with his piston-like jab near enough throughout, beating a seasoned veteran in the process.
The Las Vegas resident vented his frustration at the disapproval over social media on Monday.
“I box for 12 rounds they say I’m boring & I take no chances,” Haney posted on Twitter.
“I get knockout of the year they say it was against a nobody.
“I fight one of the hardest punchers in the lightweight division & win the first 9 rounds & decided I wanted to try & go for the stoppage & still its something.”
In his post-fight press conference, Haney was questioned whether he could stand up to the power of Lightweight rivals, Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia, but made the point that Linares dropped Vasyl Lomachenko, which Lopez was unable to do, as he ripped away the remaining Lightweight world titles in October.
I box for 12 rounds they say I’m boring & I take no chances. I get knockout of the year they say it was against a nobody. I fight one of the hardest punchers in the lightweight division & win the first 9 rounds & decided I wanted to try & go for the stoppage & still its something
— Devin Haney (@Realdevinhaney) May 31, 2021
Time will only tell on that front, but at 22-years-old he undoubtedly has years in front of him and plenty of compelling fights to be a part of, so who could Haney face next?
Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos winner
Ever since Teofimo Lopez beat Vasiliy Lomachenko there has been debate and confusion whether he is in fact the undisputed Lightweight champion.
Lomachenko, previously held the WBC title, but was instilled as WBC Franchise champion a belt which is generally not transferable between fighters, whilst Haney was upgraded from interim to full WBC champion.
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However, the WBC made an exception for Lomachenko’s clash with Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) with the Franchise crown up for grabs, as well as the Ukrainian’s then WBA ‘Super’, WBO and IBF belts, which ‘The Takeover’ ripped away with a unanimous decision victory in Las Vegas.
Haney and his team believe that Lopez cannot claim he is undisputed champion until he faces him, although WBC President, Mauricio Sulaiman has gone on record to hail the latter as undisputed king.
‘The Dream’ said he was open to facing his compatriot in his post-fight interview with DAZN to fully settle the debate, however Lopez has business to deal with first in the form of undefeated IBF mandatory challenger, George Kambosos Jr on June 19 in Miami.
— Teofimo Lopez (@TeofimoLopez) May 30, 2021
Should Lopez come through, then it would seem a natural fight to make, with Haney’s promoter, Eddie Hearn insisting afterwards that a future fight could take place on either DAZN or ESPN – the network Lopez fights on under the Top Rank banner – although his clash with Kambosos is on Triller, who won the purse bid in February.
Kambosos Jr believes he can pull off an upset and should he win, a showdown with Haney could also be on the table.
Javier Fortuna-Joseph Diaz winner
The winner of the upcoming clash between Javier Fortuna and Joseph Diaz appears to be Haney’s most likely next fight.
The WBC placed two mandatories on Haney – Fortuna and Ryan Garcia – before allowing him to defend against Linares on Saturday.
Garcia was set to face Fortuna next month, but pulled out in April to citing mental health reasons and it remains for now unclear when he’ll make his return.
Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs) will instead meet former 130lbs world champion, Diaz (31-1-1, 15 KOs) for the vacant WBC interim Lightweight crown on July 9, with the winner mandatory to Haney.
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With Haney having taken a voluntary against Linares, the WBC will likely call for an immediate defence against the victor.
Vasyl Lomachenko appears to be the forgotten man of a division he was previously so dominant in.
The former unified 135lbs champion was beaten by Lopez, as mentioned in a fight where he was surprisingly outboxed for the first seven rounds, before letting his hands go and producing a late rally, which was ultimately not enough.
The Ukrainian had surgery on his shoulder in the days after and makes his long-awaited return on June 26 against Masayoshi Nakatani, who is coming off an impressive ninth round stoppage of Felix Verdejo in December.
The 33-year-old is highly ranked in all four governing bodies and will have a host of options with victory over the Japanese, but his highest rating is in the WBC where he stands as the number one contender.
A fight with Haney would generate huge interest especially in the USA, although there is another similar issue, the network situation.
Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) is signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank and fights on ESPN, so again a deal would have to be negotiated with Haney fighting on DAZN, but from what Eddie Hearn said post-fight, it appears that his charge would be able to fight on a rival network, which would reduce a significant barrier in negotiations.
Comment below who you would like Haney to face next.