Devin Haney defends his WBC Light Welterweight title against veteran Jorge Linares on Saturday night, with the Las Vegas man looking to end the Venezuelan’s dominance over Matchroom fighters.
Linares’ two wins over Manchester’s Anthony Crolla were sandwiched between victories over Kevin Mitchell and Luke Campbell, with Haney the Betfred favourite to end that impressive run over Matchroom men.
With Teofimo Lopez Jr holding the WBO, IBF and WBA belts after his dominant display over Vasyl Lomachenko back in October, Haney occupies the final piece of the puzzle in the WBC title and will be determined to keep hold of it with some mega fights to be made at the weight.
Gervonta Davis is the current WBA “regular” king with Ryan Garcia the WBC interim champion, so now is not the time to be relinquishing a belt at lightweight.
Add into the equation that Lopez Jr himself has made no secret of his desire to make the undisputed fight with Haney, and there can be no slip-ups inside the Michelob Ultra Arena this weekend.
Betfred make Haney the 1/14 favourite, a remarkably short price given the undoubted pedigree of Linares.
However, at 35, has Father Time caught up with the nemesis of the Matchroom stable?
Two knockout defeats in his last five bouts will have taken a lot out of the Linares tank, and the flat performance in succumbing to Pablo Cesar Cano in 2019 would suggest that he isn’t the fighter of old.
His record of 47-5 is hugely impressive, but it is worth noting that each of his five defeats have come by way of stoppage. These knockouts take a lot out of a fighter and, in reality, Linares hasn’t been the same fighter since he went to war with Lomachenko back in 2018.
That fight saw “Loma” hit the canvas for the first time, but the Ukrainian fought back in style to stop Linares in the 10th inside New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden.
Not shy of a knockout himself (15 in 25 wins), Haney will smell blood in Las Vegas and go looking for a stoppage which is available with Betfred at 4/7.
If Haney, as expected, does go looking for an early night, Linares believes the 22-year-old will be making a huge mistake.
“I think he wants to make a KO very soon, very quickly in one or two rounds. A bad mistake with me because I train a lot and make different plans, different expectations for this fight.”
Haney boxes the way his career has been managed, carefully and calculated. He’s composed inside the ring and doesn’t go searching for quick results that could end up costing him.
There is no question that Linares is a serious step up in class and he will no doubt have more success than Haney is used to conceding, but over the course of the 12 rounds, the young American should have the upper hand.
That being said, the 15/2 about Linares stealing the WBC title is borderline disrespectful to a three-weight world champion.
A prime Linares would likely be the favourite. However, that fighter is no more and he rightly enters as an underdog. Does he have enough left to upset the odds and take his biggest Matchroom scalp to date?
That’s the beauty of this bit of matchmaking, no one truly knows.