Devin Haney may not have sent out the emphatic message to his rivals that was expected of him, however his resounding display against former world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa was an indication of his ability at the highest level.
All the pressure was on Haney after Lightweight rivals Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis had both stylishly overcome Vasiliy Lomachenko and Leo Santa Cruz respectively with Davis’ knockout of Santa Cruz, a devastating statement.
The 21-year-old secured a near enough shutout over Gamboa to retain his WBC Lightweight title, in what was a one-sided show of skill and speed, with the champion floating in and out of range to nullify the threat of his ageing foe.
Haney, 17 years younger than Gamboa at 38-years-old attempted to finish the fight before the last bell, however the stoppage wasn’t to be, as ‘The Dream’ returned after almost a year out, coupled with a spell on the sidelines due to shoulder surgery, to record a 25th straight professional win.
The Las Vegas resident has long bemoaned what he believes is avoiding tactics from his rivals, citing Vasiliy Lomachenko’s request to become Franchise Champion as a ploy to avoid him when he was sat as mandatory challenger.
Haney made a tongue in cheek comment pre-fight that a below-par performance would entice his competitors to face him and although it would be unjust to accuse him of a lacklustre display, by his own admission Haney anticipated a showreel finish, which never came to fruition.
Regardless, ‘The Dream’ has huge showdowns ahead of him, each building interest in their own right and here is who he could tackle next.
Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell winner
The winner of the WBC Interim Lightweight title clash between Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell on December 5 will become Haney’s mandatory.
A showdown with Garcia would be one of the most intriguing fights in the division, especially if he overcomes two-time world title challenger, Campbell in emphatic fashion.
The pair have history dating back to the amateurs reportedly fighting on six occasions, with the scores level, depending on who you believe.
Haney and Garcia are on a collision course whatever the result on December 5 in a clash which would represent a perfect blend of power and hand speed of Garcia against the supreme boxing skill of Haney, who could feasibly outbox his rival to the same extent he did against Gamboa.
Campbell will fancy his chances, having fought at world level and put in a valiant effort in defeat to Vasiliy Lomachenko last August and victory over Garcia would make for another attractive bout, perhaps in England.
🔥 HANEY x GARCIA
— ProBoxingFans (@ProBoxingFans) July 4, 2020
Both fights won’t be difficult to make, with Campbell and Haney both part of the same promotional company, Matchroom Boxing and all three on the same network in DAZN.
Several comparisons were made between Gervonta Davis’ performance against Gamboa to Haney’s display.
Whilst the latter was able to outbox his man and avoid taking significant damage, ‘Tank’ Davis ultimately finished the contest decisively securing a final round stoppage, although he did take more shots.
If Haney faced Richard Commey, fans would look to contrast a potential display with Teofimo Lopez, who destroyed the Ghanian in two rounds last December.
However, Commey remains highly-rated and could prove a sensible bridging fight for Haney to gain more experience before taking on the money-spinning names of the division.
For one, at 21-years-old, he is surely in no rush, but by the same token boxing is continuously compared to the UFC model, where the bigger fights tend to be made, so perhaps Haney would fall for some criticism if he doesn’t face an elite name.
Commey, like Gamboa is reaching the twilight years of his career at 33-years-old, but with 26 KOs from 29 victories, he would still be a dangerous opponent for Haney.
Jorge Linares would be a step-up for Haney again and a victory would bring plaudits.
Three-weight world champion, Linares has fought at the highest level at 135lbs, becoming a two-time champion and beating the aforementioned Campbell by split decision, among others.
The Venezuelan did fall short against Lomachenko, but pushed the Ukrainian great all the way, becoming the first man to drop ‘Hi Tech’ in an enthralling fight at Madison Square Garden in 2018.
Linares has proved over the years he has all the attributes to compete with the top dogs, however a shock first round loss to Pablo Cesar Cano in January 2019, suggests his best days may be passed him.
The 35-year-old was set to face Javier Fortuna for the WBC Diamond title, however the clash was postponed after Linares tested positive for COVD-19.
Haney could prove any doubters from Saturday wrong with a victory over an established, former world champion like Linares and gain vital experience against a seasoned veteran.
Unified world champion, Teofimo Lopez was quick to take a jibe at Haney after his win over Gamboa.
Lopez holds the WBC Franchise belt he ripped away from Lomachenko last month, whilst Haney holds the WBC full title, which has sparked debate over whether Lopez can claim to be fully undisputed until he faces his compatriot.
The Brooklyn man has labelled his rival as the ‘email champion’ referring to the fact that Haney was elevated from interim to full champion, after Lomachenko was awarded franchise status, a non-transferrable title at the time.
Despite the ongoing politics, there remains mutual respect between the two and the pair shared a FaceTime call shortly after Lopez’s win over Lomachenko.
Email Champion performance! 🎭 pic.twitter.com/1PY3yJgmBY
— Teofimo Lopez (@TeofimoLopez) November 8, 2020
A meeting for all the major belts is inevitable and will put the undisputed asterisk, which Haney refers to at rest. Lopez is a big Lightweight and will move up to 140lbs in the near future meaning a clash could well take place in the weight class above.
However, Lopez is able to make weight at 135lbs, albeit at a struggle and displayed a greater variety to his game than just his renowned punching power, managing to pin Lomachenko back and outboxing him, particularly during the early stages.
It would be another mouthwatering match-up and Lopez may be the toughest operator out there for Haney considering his versatility, his size and power. Could Haney outbox someone with similar speed, footwork and skill? If he can then he’d every chance of winning.
Gervonta Davis was also swift to dismiss Haney’s performance on social media, who fired back at his rival on Instagram with a series of photos showing the former take punishment from Gamboa.
‘Tank’ put in a more aggressive display against Gamboa, eventually stopping him in the final round, compared with ‘The Dream’s’ measured approach.
Davis’ punch power is frightening and his knock out of the year contender against Leo Santa Cruz was a chilling warning to his rivals, should he remain at Lightweight.
The 26-year-old has floated between 135lbs and 130lbs, however he seems more naturally suited to the higher weight class and a bout with Haney would be a boxer vs puncher showdown.
Haney would largely be able to outbox Davis, although such is the ferocity of his power, there would be no surprise if Tank could force a stoppage.
It remains to be seen how realistic this showdown is considering the close relationship Haney has with Davis’ promoter and former pound-for-pound great, Floyd Mayweather Jr, who would likely have to give the fight his blessing to go ahead.
Nevertheless, it would be a fascinating clash of styles and a highly-anticipated with Haney having a near three inch height advantage on Davis to add to the intrigue.