What's At Stake For Devin Haney?

What's At Stake For Devin Haney?

UFC/Boxing

What's At Stake For Devin Haney?

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Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

There aren’t many 23-year-olds in boxing with a chance to be the best boxer in their respective division. WBC lightweight world champion Devin Haney will defend his title against JoJo Diaz on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

For Haney, this title defense will reveal a lot about his future in the lightweight division. Haney is going up against a former two-division world champion in Diaz, who will provide one of the toughest tests of Haney’s six-year career. Diaz became the interim WBC lightweight world titlist in July with a unanimous decision win over Javier Fortuna.

That win set up Diaz to challenge for Haney’s WBC title. These two have been on a crash course over the last year and now Haney will get to prove himself again on a big stage.

Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision victory against Jorge Linares in May. Up to this point, the bout against Linares was the most difficult of Haney’s career. He was tested throughout the fight, especially at the end of the fight when Linares had Haney on shaky legs in rounds 10 and 11. Haney used the lead he built up to survive in the final round and that was enough for him to hang on to a unanimous decision win over Linares, a former world champion.

Haney was criticized for his performance against Linares, but he handled himself well in the ring against a former three-division world champion, who was 35-years-old at the time of the fight.

Haney displayed his ability to stay out of harm’s way for the most part. He also showed his power in several instances. The most important thing for Haney was that he won the fight and avoided an upset.

Critics will pick apart any performance that is not up to their standards, but Haney has been marvelous through 26 professional bouts. It is expected for a young fighter who is on a fast climb to hit some speed bumps. Haney found a way to handle the speed bumps so far and he has the skills to get better as they continue to pop up on the road to lightweight supremacy.

There is plenty at stake for Haney in this upcoming fight against Diaz. If he is able to win, there will likely be a unification bout waiting for him in the near future. If he loses to Diaz, it will be a big setback for him since he will lose his lone title.

The pressure is on Haney to win this fight because of the recent activity in the lightweight division. Last Saturday, Teofimo Lopez lost his three world titles to George Kambosos Jr. On Sunday, the day after Haney’s fight, Gervonta Davis will defend his WBA lightweight title against Isaac Cruz. Then, on Dec. 11, Vasyl Lomachenko and Richard Commey will compete in a pivotal lightweight bout that will have many implications.

The schedules are lining up for Haney to unify his title against one of the other lightweight champions in 2022, but it all comes down to Saturday. Haney cannot afford to overlook Diaz because he has massive fights waiting for him within the next year.

Haney is one of boxing’s brightest stars and he will continue to shine if he is able to remain undefeated. The lightweight division is by far the most talented division in boxing and Haney is at the top of the division. He has to win this fight in order to move on to a fight against one of the other top lightweights.