Haney eyes champ status at 140, ready to test his chin against Prograis

By Jeff Sorby - 12/07/2023 - Comments

Devin Haney is taking a big step test in his career on Saturday, moving up to 140, and facing WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis on DAZN PPV.

Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) aims to become a two-division world champion, and he’s going up what he considers is the best in the division against the 34-year-old Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs), who he feels has been avoided for a long time by the top fighters.

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The former undisputed lightweight champion Devin, 25, is still in the process of vacating his belts. He had no choice but to move up to 140 because it had become too difficult for him to get down to 135.

Interestingly, Haney is already talking about moving up to 147 to go after the belts in that weight class, but that move might not happen until after faces two or three of the biggest names at or around the 140-lb division against Gervonts Davis, Ryan Garcia and Teofimo Lopez.

If Haney is lucky, he’ll fight all three, win all of them, and make a ton of money. Before that can happen, Devin must defeat Prograis on Saturday night in their 12 round main event fight at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

Haney said this week he has no plans on attempting to become the undisputed champion in the 140-lb division, as he feels it was enough to do that one time only.

Now, he wants the biggest fights to make the most money possible. Some see this as code talk, meaning that he doesn’t want any part of fighting IBF 140-lb champion Subriel Matias because he would have to beat him as part of collecting all the belts in the division.

Haney motivated by new challenge

“I’m in the process of releasing my belts at 135 and getting a new one at 140,” said Devin Haney to Stephen A. Smith, talking about his match-up against WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis this Saturday night on DAZN PPV.

“At 135, I was the undisputed champion; I was the man of the division. Now, I’m moving up to 140, and I’m fighting the champion in my first fight, fighting the champion who holds one of the belts at 140,” Haney continued.

Haney can’t be serious, saying he “the man of the division” at lightweight. The truth is, Haney was elevated to WBC 135-lb champion, and then he won his other three belts to become undisputed by beating IBF/WBA/WBO champion George Kambosos Jr. Haney didn’t beat any of the dangerous fighters in the division to become champion. He lucked out that Kambosos, arguably fringe-level talent-wise, had the three titles after beating the injured, weight-drained, and ring-rusty Teofimo Lopez.

“My mentality is the same when I went to Australia. I had the challenger mentality when I went over there and fought George Kambosos,” said Haney. “Shakur could have been my last fight at 135. I sent him an offer to make the fight happen. He turned it down and countered with 50%.

“He [Shakur Stevenson] turned down the [75-25] offer, and it made a fight between me and Regis Prograis. Over this time, my body has matured. I’ve been at 135 for 30 fights now. It’s unheard of now. I’ve done everything at 135. Undisputed and defended it twice.

“Now, it’s time to move up to 140, coming as a challenger and becoming a champion at 140 once again. It’s been a huge challenge. I’ve been at 135 since I was an amateur at 17 years old. Now, I’m 25-years-old. My body has matured,” said Haney.

Prograis looked really bad in his last fight, winning a controversial twelve round split decision over Danielito Zorrilla last June. A lot of fans think he lost or should have.

For that reason, Haney is seen as cherry-picking a vulnerable champion, who has on his last legs at 34. If Haney had picked IBF champ Subriel Matias, who fans would laud for showing bravery.

Devin rates Prograis “toughest test” at 140

“It’s a long time coming. I’m happy I’m leaving the division undefeated. I left undisputed with all the hardware,” said Haney. “Eventually, guys have to go up in weight. That’s what the greats did, and I feel like I’m going to be a great in the sport of boxing, and I’m just following the great’s lead.

“I’m going to handicap him of his best attributes,” said Haney about his plans for his fight with Prograis. “I’m not a fighter that you can go in there and think to land a lucky punch or one big shot, and I will show him that my skills pay the bills at this level for a reason.”

What Haney is saying sounds like he’s going to box on Saturday night, play it safe, and not take any chances that he gets clipped by Prograis. It could be a boring fight like his matches against George Kambosos Jr., which saw him moving, jabbing, and holding.

“He’s a guy that a lot of these fighters don’t want to fight. He’s very dangerous,” said Haney. “He’s a fighter that a lot of these guys ducked,” said Haney on why we haven’t heard a lot about Prograis until this fight.

“I’m taking on the toughest test. I want to fight the best fighters in the world and show them that I’m levels above them, and I am the best,” said Haney, leaving out the fact that he’s NOT fighting the best at 140 in 34-year-old Prograis. The best is arguably IBF light welterweight champion Subriel Matias, who Haney has now shown interest in facing for obvious reasons.

Haney definitely isn’t taking on the toughest of the champions at 140. Prograis isn’t the worst of the four champs, but he’s at the third poorest. The best champions at 140 are arguably in this order:

1. Subriel Matias – IBF
2. Teofimo Lopez – WBO
3. Regis Prograis – WBC
4. Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero – WBA

“His power. He’s a knockout puncher, he’s relentless, and he comes to win every time. His only loss was to Josh Taylor. Josh became undisputed, and he’s been knocking out everybody since,” said Haney on why everyone has been avoiding Prograis all these years.

Defending his low KO percentage

“It ain’t ‘only’ a 50% knockout rate. I’ve been fighting at the top level since I was 20 years old,” said Haney. “I’ve been a world champion since I was 20 years old. I’ve been fighting against the best fighters in the world.

Haney hasn’t knocked out any of his opponents since 2019, and he’s fought some guys that he should have been able to stop if he had any power. He didn’t knock out these guys: Yuriorkis Gamboa, Alfredo Santiago, and Jorge Linares.

“I’ve not been ducking or dodging nobody. So, it’s no ‘only 50%.’ I’m fighting the best in the world,” said Haney, getting defensive when Stephen A. pointed out that he’d only knocked out 50% of his opposition during his career. “I’m not one of these guys that I could easily knock out. I’m making the biggest and best fights in boxing.

“They’re going to say something regardless. If I’ve never been hit and never been hurt. They’re going to say, ‘What is he going to do when he takes a punch?’ Then I take a punch, and I get buzzed, and I don’t go down, then they’re going to say that I ain’t got no chin.

“Lomachenko hit me chin multiple times, and we’ve seen Lomachenko has put guys out to sleep. So my chin can’t be that bad,” said Haney, failing to say that most of Loma’s knockouts occurred at 126 & 130 earlier in his career. He’s now 35, badly undersized for the 135-lb division, and he looked two divisions smaller than the welterweight-sized Haney for their fight last May, which had a controversial result.

Lomachenko was much smaller and older than Haney, so there’s no surprise that Devin went the distance against that guy. Haney looked like a welterweight inside the ring the night of the fight, and he was way too big for Loma.

Size advantage won’t be there

“I’m used to fighting when I am small when my body isn’t fully rehydrated, and it’s not itself. I’m really a bigger guy who was shrinking down to make the weight, to defend my belts, and to show how good I really was,” said Haney, reacting to Prograis saying that he won’t have a huge size advantage against him like he’d been accustomed to having when he was fighting against smaller opposition than him at lightweight.

“Now, I have a chance to go into this fight healthy, strong, big. In this training camp, we’ve had the chance to work on the game plan and getting better rather than focusing on losing weight,” said Haney.

Devin doesn’t say why he was melting down to fight at 135 all these years, and it would have been a logical question for Stephen A. to ask him if he wasn’t so busy tossing softball questions to him during the entire interview.

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