On 29th May, Devin Haney beat Jorge Linares, his biggest scalp to date, defending his WBC Lightweight Championship. Although there was a shaky moment or two, ‘The Dream’ is for real and ready for the big money and unification fights at 135, Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia, I’m talking to you.
His 3rd defence of his WBC Lightweight belt, Haney beat Linares 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113 on all three scorecards at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. I had the fight slightly wider at 117-112.
Working behind the jab and finding his range, Haney opened the fight comfortably and in control, connecting frequently with his jab as Linares tried to counter, but to no avail. Linares was looking for his check left hook, but Haney read the punch and just worked his jab into Linares’ face.
Now adding power punches into the fight, crosses, uppercuts, Haney was landing at will with Linares still trying to find his left hook. Haney looked sharp and confident against his toughest test to date.
The knock-on Haney in a past fight is that he never seems to have the killer instinct to finish fights. Well, this fight was different, entering close range when he has the opportunity and landing clean shots. He was looking unusually aggressive.
As the middle rounds commenced, Haney was in control. Controlling the centre ring and working his jab, he looked mature beyond his years. Linares though was finding a footing in the fight, landing some nice power shots to the body.
Still looking for the left hook, Linares needed to find a different answer to the openings Haney was affording him as Haney was constantly reading the punch.
As the middle rounds went on, Haney was way more willing to trade than first suspected, going toe to toe in centre ring and exchanging blows. Was he looking for a statement finish?
Although Haney was winning these rounds, Haney was giving Linares openings to land himself and he was, Haney exhibiting a decent chin to walk through those punches.
Linares was still sticking to his gameplan of counter-punching, but against the style on Haney, this really wasn’t working, especially since Haney was so quick with his punches and being out of range after one or two blows.
Haney was starting to hurt Linares, landing clean with a right hand and left hooks. Was this one too many wars for Linares?
Entering the 10th, Linares was way behind on the scorecards. Landing his power shots, Linares still looked tired and Haney was still in front of him. Linares was in dire need of a KO.
A straight right and left hook land clean on Haney’s chin. Haney wobbled back to his corner. Was this the opening Linares needed to finish the fight?
Now in the Championship rounds, Haney was still slightly wobbly, his legs not fully under him. He needs to take advantage of the opening.
Haney was fighting smart though, holding whenever he gets the opportunity, getting his legs under him again, bit by bit.
The time had passed Linares, not being able to capitalise on his earlier work. The final bell rings and we all know who has won this fight.
This was a statement win for Haney. Beating former World Champion convincingly, exhibiting a boxing IQ well beyond his age of 22. He’s ready to fight the big boys of the division.
Teofimo Lopez, although some would say is the undisputed champion at 135 having to beat Vasyl Lomachenko when he had the WBA, WBO and ‘Franchise’ WBC belt, still needs to beat Devin Haney if he wants to be written in the record books at undisputed champion at Lightweight. Scheduled to fight George Kambosos Jr. on 19th June, which is no easy outing might I add, if he comes through that fight, the undisputed unification fight against Haney will be one of boxing’s biggest fights and undoubtedly draw the attention it deserves.
Golden Boy’s star, Ryan Garcia, is also a fight the world would want to see. Beating Luke Campbell and gaining the WBC interim belt announced Garcia as not just a pretty boy but a real player at 135.
If all his mental health issues are in order, having had to pull out of his 9th June scheduled defence against Javier Fortuna, this fight against Haney in terms of eyes, could be a lot bigger than the fight against Lopez. Obviously, Garcia’s mental health issues are the main priority but if his health is good, everyone would tune in for the fight.