Devin Haney And Shakur Stevenson Are The Future Of The Pound For Pound #1 Slot

After Terence Crawford, these two could battle it out to be the best
09:00, 03 Aug 2023

Boxing anointed its new pound-for-pound number one on Saturday, as Terence Crawford settled the debate with a nine-round TKO win over Errol Spence Jr. As well as unifying the undisputed welterweight championship, ‘Bud’ reached the very pinnacle of his sport. After over a decade building his formidable legacy, Crawford can finally collect the plaudits his work has long-deserved.

Boxing is a sport that relies on eras. Even as they start it is with a creeping inevitability that they will end. The fact Crawford is 35 years old means his era will be judged more in impact than longevity. Some fighters rule their sport early and fade away, like Mike Tyson. Others reign supreme for so long only retirement can stop them, like Floyd Mayweather. For Terence, his tenure as the main man will likely form his final years in the sport.

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Which begs the question of who will succeed him? There are candidates too numerous to list here. But two men who are already providing echoes of our undisputed welterweight champion reside in two divisions Crawford used to reign in. Lightweight contender Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney, the lightweight champion eyeing a move to light welterweight, have all the tools to one day take the P4P mantle.

The two undefeated stars could have given us one of the year’s biggest fights. Stevenson is the mandatory challenger for the WBC lightweight championship. The green and gold belt was held by none other than Haney as part of the undisputed lightweight championship he unified in his first victory over George Kambosos Jr. But like two ships passing in the night, Shakur and Devin have just missed each other.

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Instead, Haney is vacating the WBC 135lb title to go up and face the organisation’s light welterweight don, Regis Prograis. The sanctioning body are stripping him of their main title, and with it his undisputed billing, and installing Haney as ‘Champion in Recess’. This designation means, should he return to the lightweight division, he can automatically challenge whoever the champion is at the weight. The ‘Champion in Recess’ tag was most famously used by Vitali Klitschko, who returned from a four-year injury lay-off to beat Samuel Peter for the WBC heavyweight title in 2008. 

While it is all too common to see boxers avoiding the big fights, Haney is not guilty of such tactics in this case. A fight with a champion of Prograis’ standing is a superb test of his skills and a mouthwatering clash for fans. A victory will add to Haney’s pound-for-pound credentials, too. After becoming undisputed lightweight king, reigning at another weight is a nice slice of history for ‘The Dream.

Stevenson already has multi-weight success on his CV. Already a WBO featherweight boss and WBC, WBO and The Ring super featherweight champion at the age of 26, Stevenson has plenty of time to bolster that legacy. Given Haney is only 24, you feel these two emerging ring generals will be playing a game of one upmanship for a while.

Eventually, one would hope, they’ll take that game into the ring. The interest in Crawford-Spence showed the power of two world class operators with unbeaten records colliding on the big stage. If they keep going at this clip, Stevenson and Haney would be every bit as decorated as ‘The Truth’ and ‘Bud’ were going into their fight. At that point, depending on what the likes of Crawford, Naoya Inoue and Oleksandr Usyk have done since, their fight could well crown a new pound-for-pound king.

That is all to come though. For now these two superb boxers have their immediate future mapped out. Haney goes up in weight to try and emulate Stevenson and capture a new world title. Meanwhile, Stevenson tries to emulate Haney and become a belt-holder at lightweight. The game has begun between these two. How will it end? Hopefully in another occasion to rival the wonderful Spence-Crawford collision.

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