Saturday night on DAZN, Devin Haney returns to defend his WBC lightweight title against veteran Jorge Linares, a four-division titlist who will be Haney’s stiffest test to date on paper.
Does the 22-year-old prove out, or will the 35-year-old Linares expose some weaknesses in the young man’s game?
Scott Christ (34-10-2)
I’m probably about as high on Devin Haney as anyone who doesn’t get paid to tell Devin Haney he’s great. I think there’s a very clear reason that the other top young lightweights are not rushing to fight Haney. It’s not that he’s some otherworldly puncher or mega-monster talent, but he’s calm, composed, skilled, and knows how to maximize his gifts and ability. He does not make big mistakes.
Now, granted, Linares is a significant step up in the competition for him, or at least should be. I fully respect that, but more importantly, Haney knows and respects it, too. That’s a big key. Haney is managed, promoted, prepared and matched the way he fights: Careful, with precise calculation. I do think Linares will have more success than others have had, but he won’t have enough to win the fight. Haney takes this one clear and exhibits his talent — without taking any big risks. Haney UD-12
How to Watch Haney vs Linares
Wil Esco (36-8-2)
Anyone who’s kept up with this blog over the years knows how much I’ve fawned over the supreme technical skill of Jorge Linares. In all honesty he’s been one of my favorite fighters because I think there’s such an aesthetically pleasing quality to Linares style, but he’s proven to be chinny enough that even when he’s up on points his opponents still have a chance. There’s also been instances where Linares has been stopped in rather quick fashion, which is additionally worrisome if I want to pick him to win.
I still think Linares is an excellent technician but in this particular matchup I think he’s going to have real issues because Haney is also a technical fighter who realistically could stop Linares at just about any point. To be clear, I don’t think Haney is a monster puncher, but for me it’s just more about Linares’ lack of ability to take a good shot that gives me pause. As much as I’d like to see Linares score a huge win, my better judgement just thinks of the three most likely outcomes (a Haney decision, a Haney KO, or a Linares decision) a Linares win is the least likely to happen. I’ll take Haney to win on points. Haney UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg (36-8-2)
So long as Haney doesn’t fade the way he did against Gamboa, this is definitely a winnable fight. He’s one of the few lightweights in the game with faster hands than Linares, and his footwork and excellent control of distance should let him win behind his piston jab. If the legs fail him at any point, though, he’s in trouble; as we saw against Omar Morales, Linares can still unleash Hell, and Haney really doesn’t want any part of him in the pocket.
Linares has his fair share of red flags, though, and I find my worries about Haney’s motor outweighed by my far more supported worries about Linares’ thin skin and overall lack of durability. “El Niño de Oro” remains skilled enough to keep it competitive and take some rounds, but the younger, swifter Haney figures to potshot his way to a 7-5, 8-4 sort of decision. Haney UD-12