George Kambosos made his statement last week. On Saturday, it was Devin Haney’s turn.
Haney received spirited resistance from Joseph Diaz Jr. but he controlled the 12-round lightweight bout to win a wide decision Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, enhancing his reputation as the one of the best in the division.
The secondary 135-pound champ used his long jab and more than enough power punches – including many to the body – to score points and keep the stalking Diaz at a distance for most of the fight.
Diaz forced his way inside and was able to land some hard punches in spots, which made the fight interesting. However, he didn’t have enough success to win over the judges, who evidently believed that Haney landed the cleaner punches.
Devin Haney celebrates his victory over Joseph Diaz Jr. Ed Mulholland / Matchroom Boxing
In the late rounds, when it seemed as if Diaz needed to do something dramatic to turn the tide, he picked up his pace but Haney continued to throw – and land – eye-catching punches in competitive rounds.
The 12th and final round might’ve been Diaz’s best, as the southpaw, obviously looking for a knockout, seemed to stun Haney with a few hard lefts. However, he couldn’t finish the job and Haney finished the round strong.
The scores were 117-111, 117-111 and 116-112, all for Haney. Boxing Junkie also scored it 117-111, nine rounds to three.
“I knew I was fighting a tough competitor,” Haney said. “JoJo Diaz makes it hard for anyone he’s been in the ring with. He only had one loss. He had a lot of experience. But I went in there and got the job done. That’s all I can say.”
Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs) said afterward that he believes the scores were too wide but he didn’t complain vociferously. He acknowledged that he shared with the ring with a slick opponent.
“He’s a smart fighter,” Diaz said. “He would go in the clinch, let us break and get out again and use his distance, use his range. He had a good game plan.”
Kambosos, who was sitting at ringside at the MGM, stunned Lopez and the boxing world by winning a split decision to become the undisputed lightweight champion last Saturday in New York.
Lopez had been elevated to what the WBC calls its “franchise champion” and Haney became the sanctioning body’s “titleholder” even though Lopez sat above him. The moves created nothing but confusion.
Haney (27-0, 15 KOs) thought of a way to resolve the issue once and for all: The two would meet in the ring.
The 23-year-old resident of Las Vegas said it’s difficult for him to make 135 but he would be more than willing to do it one more time if he’s fighting for all four major belts.
“C’mon, Kambosos, Let’s do it, for all the belts,” Haney said. “The real undisputed. Let’s do it next.”
He went on: “I think it’s a great fight. It’s for all the belts. He put on a great performance against Teofimo Lopez. I think the fans would love to see it. There would be no more dispute who’s the WBC champion. So let’s do it next.”
Kambosos said he wants his first title defense to take place in his home country of Australia. How does Haney feel about the prospect of fighting down under?
Said he: “I’ll go to Jupiter if I’ve got to.”