Devon Haney avoided the upset that derailed Teofimo Lopez last week by winning a decisive unanimous decision over Joseph Diaz Jr. last night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The WBC Champion at lightweight made his fifth successful title defense of a belt that was awarded to him in 2019 without a fight. The WBC elevated Vasily Lomachenko to “Franchise Champion” a very dubious distinction that allowed for Haney to get the title along with Jermall Charlo at middleweight when Saul Alvarez was also awarded the same title. Haney publicly challenged Lomachenko and was his mandatory challenger but the fight never came off. The legitimacy of Haney’s title is definitely a hot button issue amongst hardcore boxing fans but I think it is agreed that he is a top operator in the division. George Kambosos beat the Lomachenko conqueror Teofimo Lopez last week in a win that no doubt shook up the entire division. Kambosos is the undisputed champion depending on who you ask. Then, you have Vasiliy Lomachenko on the outside looking in as the man who lost to Lopez but was denied a rematch. He faces Richard Commey this month in what will turn out to be a huge month for the division. The other face of the division is Gervonta Davis who fights tonight. Haney had confronted Lopez on air of other DAZN events and has been vocal on social media trying to get the big fights. He has called out Lopez, Lomachenko and social media star and boxer Ryan Garcia. In fact he only got the fight last night because Garcia hurt his hand preparing for Diaz. The obvious fight is Kambosos vs Haney for all the hardware but a Lomachenko fight, Lopez fight, or Davis fight for both titleholders are valid alternatives. The division has been compared to the 1980’s Fab Four moment between Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. This division has gone through 2021 without any of the so called four facing each other and I think it is imperative that this happens in 2022.
In the ring Devon Haney displayed the skill and poise that we have come to expect from the young titlist. He has a nice jab, quick combinations, accurate punching and good reflexes. He won and that is not up for debate with scores of 117-111 twice and 116-112 but he did show vulnerabilities in this fight much like he did in May against Jorge Linares. Joseph Diaz Jr. is not a particularly hard puncher but he scored some right hooks and left crosses later in the bout that caught Haney’s attention. I am not going to say he was rocked or buzzed but the shots hat visible effects on him. I’m not sure if this stems from a problem defensively, a lack of power letting his opponents maintain the courage to walk through his punches, or a desire to fend off the boring label that has been hurled his way due to frequent decisions over guys he was expected to knockout. Haney did a nice job doubling his left hand and hitting the body and showed skillful footwork in using the ring and outmaneuvering Diaz. Diaz is a tough operator who has fought a tough line up of lightweights and super featherweights and last night showed his experience. However, much like his featherweight title loss to Gary Russell he lacked the consistent offensive attack to win this fight. He is still a force in the division and I still think he beats Ryan Garcia. The vulnerabilities Haney showed last night have already generated discussion regarding a fight with Kambosos who the favorite should be. They pair up nicely on paper for my liking.
Also on the card Jessica McCaskill made her second defense of her undisputed welterweight title by stopping a three day notice sub. Canadian Kandi Wyatt was out gunned from the opening bell as McCaskill fought with an all out attack. McCaskill fought with a total disregard for anything her opponent had to offer and threw winging right hands and bobbed underneath to evade the return blows. Wyatt was very soft and did not look well prepared for the fight. McCaskill even stood straight up at times and squared her shoulders but Wyatt could rarely muster the occasional right hand. Referee Celestino Ruiz essentially called a mercy stoppage in the seventh round as Wyatt was being hit with impunity though she was taking the shots fairly well. Filip Hrgovic the Croatian heavyweight contender advanced to 14-0 with a TKO of 10-0 Emir Ahmatovic in a somewhat entertaining scrap. Ahmatovic let his hands go and opted to trade with Hrgovic where many of his opponents chose to just shell up. Ahmatovic swung with a big overhand right in the first round but missed. He elected to try and trade with his left hook as Hrgovic either fought with disregard for his power or had an off night. Either way Hrgovic is struggling to get big name opponents to face him as he has been targeting Michael Hunter for a fight. This fight did not really do much for Hrgovic other than pad his record and get him some time back in the ring. Hopefully he can be moved into a Hunter fight or someone of that caliber. Also on the card Texas middleweight Austin Ammo Williams scored another early stoppage over Quantavious Cash to advance to 9-0.