Devin Haney (25-0, 15 KO’s) will finally get the opportunity to prove he is the real deal, as many believe the American young star to be, when he defends his WBC lightweight title against sharpshooting veteran Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KO’s) at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday May 29, live worldwide on DAZN.
The lightweight division in boxing is one of the sport’s most exciting divisions right now, with the likes of Haney, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis (occasionally whilst moving up and down the weights) and Vasiliy Lomachenko flying the flag high at 135 lbs.
Lopez produced one of the biggest upsets in recent years to dethrone pound-for-pound king Lomachenko with a sensational win to become a pound-for-pound star in his own right overnight. Garcia proved that he is more than just an Instagram fighter, showing he possesses the true minerals of a real fighter to rise from the canvas and stop British Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell. Davis defeated Jose Pedraza at 22 years of age to become IBF super featherweight champion, before brutally knocking out Leo Santa Cruz in his most recent fight. Lomachenko is one of the most technically gifted fighters of the modern era, and has defeated numerous great fighters in a short professional career.
Haney is the only fighter amongst the aforementioned who has yet to prove his credentials in the ring against a credible opponent. Against Linares, this changes. Linares is undoubtedly Haney’s toughest fight to date.
At 35 with 52 pro fights behind him, it is safe to say Linares is closer to the end of his career than the beginning. However, the Venezuelan will want to show he has not become a mere stepping stone for the young stars of the division. Linares has been one of the most talented and gifted fighters in the sport in recent years, and will want to prove that a 22 year old, still early in his career, cannot derail an experienced veteran like Linares. The Venezuelan is a former WBC, WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight champion. He held at least one of the titles from 2014 until 2018, at which point he was defeated by Lomachenko.
After Lomachenko was elevated to WBC “Franchise” champion following his win against Campbell, Haney was elevated from “interim” to “full” WBC champion, and therefore did not become world champion in the ring.
Of course, this does not mean Haney cannot prove his worth as a true champion in the ring. After Riddick Bowe infamously and literally dashed his WBC belt into a trash can, Lewis was also essentially given the WBC title, but later established himself as a true champion and one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Same way, Haney can prove that he is not an ‘email champion’, but a worthy one, by defending his belt against great competition. This is a decent test at this moment in Haney’s career.
Haney will be making the third defence of his title against the former multiple division world champion following victories against Alfredo Santiago and Yuriorkis Gamboa. As far as worthy defences for champions go, this is the first proper defence in Haney’s building blocks towards being recognised as a true champion at 135 lbs. Santiago has never achieved anything noteworthy amongst the elite of the sport and although Gamboa was once a very skilled fighter with high expectations placed on him, Gamboa was also past his prime and has never had any real success at 135 lbs. Linares may or not be past his prime, but his skills are truly elite, and unlike the likes of Gamboa, Linares has proven himself to be more than capable in the lightweight division, becoming a champion and making numerous defences of his titles, and he will be looking to regain the green and gold belt he held in 2014 and 2015.
"Up to date, this is the fight of my life, the fight of my career,” said Haney on Matchroom Boxing’s promotional video ahead of the big showdown. “This is the huge test that a lot of people have been waiting for. Linares is a tough competitor. He’s the toughest opponent on paper. I can’t wait. I’m excited to show the world.”
“Jorge Linares brings a lot to the table. He brings speed, power, ring IQ. He has a lot of experience. He’s been in there with the best of the best, so I think that he’s the type of opponent that will bring the best out of me. He’s someone who will bring out everything and make me bring out my A game and make me take it to the next level. The elite level.”
Haney clearly has a lot of great respect and appreciation for Linares.
Linares, however, believes that his experience certainly gives him a distinct advantage in this fight.
“He’s a young guy, he doesn’t have the experience that I have,” Linares said in an interview with FightHype. “So, he needs to think more than me, double than me, to get a better strategy to win the fight, you know. It’s not only speed, he has to use a lot of things.”
Both fighters are certainly talking the talk, which is always the case with all fighters. However, this is definitely a good match-up. Fights like this can easily surpass expectations because both are terrifically skilled fighters and the skill-set of both men may have to be pushed to the next level in order to emerge victorious in such a fight.
Sina Latif of SimBoxx
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