Mandatory Challenger Gets Benched: Haney vs. Garcia Money-Machine too Important

By Will Arons - 02/18/2024 - Comments

A step-aside deal is reportedly being set up to move WBC 140-lb mandatory challenger Sandor Martin out of the way to allow light welterweight champion Devin Haney to defend against Ryan Garcia next in a voluntary defense on April 20th on DAZN in Las Vegas.

Sandor’s Dilemma: Risk or Reward?

It will have to be a big step aside to get Sandor to move because he would be better off fighting Haney now rather than being shunted to the side.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman is reporting that the #1 Sandor Martin (42-3, 15 KOs) will be getting a step aside so that the title can be at stake for the mega-fight between Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) and Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs).

If Martin, 30, chooses to decline the step-aside offer, it’ll get interesting to see what the WBC’a next move will be. Do they strip Haney or find a loophole for him to keep his WBC title on the line for his defense against Kingry on April 20th?

It’s in the WBC’s best interest to have their 140-lb belt fought over for that fight. We’d hate to see Ryan and Haney fighting for one of the WBC’s specially-created belts instead of the real thing, but you can’t ignore the possibility of that happening if Sandor rejects the step-aside offer.

Haney’s Financial Imperative

It’s not a good time for Haney to be forced to defend his WBC 140-lb title against Martin, besides the big money Haney would lose by not fighting Ryan Garcia. Also, a fight between Haney and Sandor Martin would surely be a PPV failure if Devin insisted that the clash be put behind a paywall.

Haney’s recent dismal PPV numbers for his fight against former WBC 140-lb champion Regis Prograis on December 9th on DAZN make it essential for his next clash to be successful on pay-per-view.

His match with Prograis reportedly brought in 50K PPV buys, which suggests that fans are not interested in paying to see him fight. Haney is not a PPV attraction, and a large part of that is because of his non-fan-friendly fighting style, which is a blend of the mauling tactics of Tyson Fury and the defensive skittishness of Shakur Stevenson.

For some reason, boxing fans don’t enjoy watching clinching and running from fighters regarding PPV events. That’s how Haney fights, so he must face Ryan Garcia instead of Sandor. Devin needs a successful PPV event to help him negotiate future fights in a strong position.

Sandor has a defensive style of fighting, making it likely that Haney will be involved in another dull fight for the fans unless he finds some power somewhere and abandons his clinching and running approach to fighting.