Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn hopes his fighter Devin Haney can handle the first big test of his career on Saturday night when he defends his WBC lightweight title against the highly experienced Jorge Linares on DAZN.
Haney is a big -1200 favorite with BetMGM to win, but the fight is considered a 50-50 affair in the eyes of many hardcore boxing fans.
The start time for the Haney vs. Linares card is 8:00 p.m. from the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At the moment, Haney is one of two champions with the WBC organization at lightweight. The other is Teofimo Lopez, who holds the WBC Franchise title that he won last October with his victory over Vasily Lomachenko.
Unfortunately for Haney, Teofimo is viewed as the upper-most champion with the WBC, even though his Franchise title is an odd creation given away by the sanctioning body to popular fighters who want to hold their belts.
Teofimo already said this week that if Haney wins his fight against Linares and beats George Kambosos Jr on June 19th, he wants to fight him next.
At least by Teofimo making that move sets up a situation whether the winner of the fight between him and Haney will be the undisputed lightweight champion.
Teofimo has been telling the boxing public that he’s the undisputed 135-lb champion since last November, but that’s obviously not the case.
Only 22, Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) is someone that is viewed by many fans as the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, Haney hasn’t looked anything close to being the next Mayweather in his recent fights against Yuriorkis Gamboa and Alfredo Santiago.
Yeah, Haney won both fights and dominated, but he looked beatable in both.
While the 35-year-old former three-division world champion Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) isn’t the guy that he once was years ago, he still has enough left to beat Haney potentially.
Linares clearly has the power and hand speed advantage along with the experience. Some fans rave about Haney’s hand speed, but he’s really not blazing fast like a young Mayweather. Linares has a bit more speed than Haney and a big advantage in power and experience.
Until now, we haven’t seen Haney matched against the right level of opposition to tell us whether that’s true or not or empty hype.
Hearn says he sees Haney as the best fighter in the 135-lb division today, which is a huge compliment.
Going off of Haney’s recent performance against 39-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa, it isn’t easy to view him as the best in the weight class.
Although Haney defeated Gamboa by a wide 12 round unanimous decision victory, that performance by Haney was underwhelming and didn’t compare to that of Gervonta Davis’ recent win over Gamboa.
Haney didn’t look as good as Teofimo Lopez did in his victory over Vasily Lomachenko. Even the injured Lomachenko, who fought with a hurt right shoulder, looked better than Haney.
“We’ve been really searching hard for the right guy,” Hearn said to Yahoo Sports. “I believe Devin Haney is the best lightweight in the world.
“A lot of the other lightweights have been stepping up, and Devin’s been trying to step up, but no one wants to fight him.
“He wanted Vasiliy Lomachenko. Then he wanted Teofimo Lopez. Then he wanted Ryan Garcia. So I was under massive pressure to deliver a powerful fight,” said Hearn.
Thus far, Haney hasn’t any of those fighters to face him, but that could change quickly.
Teofimo is facing intense pressure from boxing fans to fight Haney to become the undisputed champion, and even Josh Taylor has told Teo to take this fight.
If Haney, I don’t know if it’s a good thing that he could soon be facing Teofimo because he doesn’t look like he’s ready.
Teofimo is like a mini-truck at 135, and he clearly is too big and too strong for the competition in this weight class. Things could change for Teofimo when he moves up to 140, but maybe not. He’s got a lot of talent that could take him as far as the 147-lb division.
On paper, Haney doesn’t look nearly ready or a fighter like Teofimo. Of course, none of this will matter if Linares beats Haney on Saturday.