By: Sean Crose
WBC world lightweight champ Devin Haney has been charged with facing less than stellar competition throughout the course of his 25 bout career. Although he’s yet to meet defeat, the biggest name the 22 year old Vegas resident has faced was the nearly 40 year old former titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa. Now, however, the rising star is about to meet a genuine fighter of note who – although not in his prime – should present a legitimate challenge. For, although nothing is officially announced, the pieces are in place for Haney to fight Jorge Linares on May 29th at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Vegas.
A former titlist himself, Linares has essentially faced a who’s who of contemporary names. Vasyl Lomachenko, Luke Campell and Anthony Crolla are some of the names on his resume. Although he hasn’t won every, or even most, of his bigger fights, there is no denying the 47-5 Venezuelan ring vet operates on a high level. At 35 years of age, there’s no doubting the man is getting on in years, but no one has accused the fighter of being washed up. This represents a chance for the Linares to win back the WBC belt he himself once owned and defended.
Haney is considered one of the sport’s rising stars. Fast and showcasing impressive ring generalship, the undefeated titlist may not be a knockout artist, but his 15 kayos can attest to the fact that he can turn out the lights if the opportunity presents itself. A win over Linares will lend Haney some gravitas. The lightweight division is in an exciting place right now, with names like Teofimo Lopez, Vasyl Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis, and Ryan Garcia all looking like possible opponents for Haney in the future (though in today’s fight world, the chance of these guys facing off in their primes may be sadly unlikely).
Although Haney will be favored walking into the bout, and will most likely best the veteran Linares, there’s also a chance that a surprise might be in order. When Lomachenko was riding high, for instance, Linares was able to put him on the mat. Lomachenko was able to get to his feet and win the fight, but Linares proved that he’s quite capable of doing the unexpected. Should he in fact best Linares, Haney will arguably have a stronger resume than the likes of Davis and Garcia, two of the other rising stars who have yet to battle stellar opposition.