Posted on 06/01/2021
By: Steven Galeano
WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney took a significant step toward divisional supremacy Saturday night after defeating former three-division world champion Jorge Linares. Haney faced adversity after being visibly hurt at the end of round 10, yet showed veteran tactics to survive and preserve a unanimous decision to defend his world title. The three judges scored the bout – 116-112, 116-112, 115-113, all for Haney.
Is Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) the best lightweight in the world right now?
Unified champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) owns that notion, and many would not debate such a topic. Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), is still the second best lightweight, despite losing his world titles to Lopez in October of 2020. For whatever reason, Lomachenko is seemingly a forgotten man in the division, yet he is still second best after being number one since entering the division in 2018.
Haney deservedly is number three after his big win over Linares (47-6, 29 KOs). Whether you consider Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) a lightweight, definitely shakes up this list. With Davis’ last fight taking place at super featherweight, and his next fight taking place at super lightweight, he will currently be left out of the list.
Haney proved himself to be a world-class operator, outclassing Linares in a way fans are not accustomed to seeing. The masterclass was largely overlooked by the end of round 10 when Linares badly hurt Haney before the bell rang, as Haney stumbled to the corner. Haney smartly held for the next two rounds, much to the dismay of fans.
Most in the boxing world are clamoring to see Haney face-off with Lopez, largely to clear up the confusion regarding whether Lopez is truly undisputed. That is another topic to discuss separately. Haney firmly staked himself as the third best lightweight in the world and the Linares win only further justified his placement. The victory, however, was not nearly enough to place him higher than Lomachenko, considering Lomachenko knocked out a more formidable version of Linares in 10 rounds back in 2018. To place himself as number one or two, he will need to secure an opportunity against Lopez or Lomachenko, two fights that will cause great debates in regards to who will win.
Haney defeating Linares was a great step, as boxing fans have been requesting Haney and promoter Eddie Hearn to step up his level of competition. His method of winning the WBC title was controversial, yet his victory over Linares was the sort of signature victory that erased all doubts of his championship mettle.
Haney proved he is an elite talent, and the next step is simply to continue fighting the best possible contenders. The top fights in the division will not be easy to make, yet fans hope to see them come to fruition soon enough. As his profile continues to grow, fans will put more pressure to see the top fights happen before the appeal fades.