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Devin Haney: ‘Lomachenko needs to fight me now’

Vasyl Lomachenko

By Kenneth Friedman: Devin Haney wants lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko to face him now while he’s still “green”, and he still has a shot at beating him. Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) says it’s going to get worse for WBA/WBC/WBO lightweight champion Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) if he opts to delay the fight.

Last Friday night, Haney beat #2 WBC ranked contender Zaur Abdullaev (11-1, 7 KOs) by a 4th round injury stoppage to become the interim World Boxing Council lightweight champion at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Haney-Abdullaev fight was shown on DAZN and Sky Sports. Abdullaev, 25, suffered a cheek injury in the 4th that led to the fight being halted.

Haney says he’ll stay at 135 a little longer

“I’m ready to fight the best fighters, and I want to showcase my skills,” said Haney at the post-fight news conference last Saturday night. “I’m only getting better. That’s why I keep saying, ‘Those guys better fight me now, because as time goes on, I’m only going to get better. It’s only going to get worse or them.’ I work hard, and I’m a student of the game. So every fight I’m only going to get better. I’ll stay at 135 if I can get a big fight, but I’m not going to stay here forever. But I’m willing to stay here a little bit longer, because I want to get a title at 135, and then move up. I don’t want to leave the 135-lb division without getting a title. I want to be a multi-weight, multi-division world champion. So it starts at 135,” said Haney.

Haney might need to move up to 140, and not waste precious years of his career waiting on a fight against Lomachenko. As we saw with Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, Top Rank won’t pull the trigger on a fight until it’s sufficiently marinated. Sometimes they get it right, as we saw in the Mayweather-Pacquiao match. That fight ended up making massive money in breaking pay-per-view records. But Top Rank gets wrong as well in waiting too long in letting a fight marinate. We saw that with the Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa match, which never took place.

Haney has chance for bigger fights at 140 in the short term

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wanted to let the Lopez-Gamboa fight marinate, and it ended up never happening after Lopez was beaten in consecutive fights against Orlando Salido.  Haney says he’ll move up to 140 if it looks like he’s not going to get a title shot quickly. Lomachenko is likely going to vacate his WBC belt in the first half of 2020, which means Haney will be spinning his wheels defending his interim WBC belt until that happens. Instead of Haney using up a year of his career at lightweight waiting for Lomachenko to vacate, he needs to move up to 140, and challenge the Regis Prograis vs. Josh Taylor winner. Haney could also face WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez; although he’s promoted by Top Rank like Lomachenko, and they may not want to let him face Haney.

Haney: I’m not going to sit and wait for Lomachenko

“Lomachenko is a great fighter. I don’t take anything away from him, and that’s exactly why I want to fight him,” said Haney. “He’s a great fighter. No disrespect to his other opponents, but they were obviously too green for him too. So if I’m too green, why not add me to the list of other green fighters that he fought? Lomachenko is already going to fight the unification match. That’s pretty much already set in stone. There’s nothing I can do about that. I’m not going to just sit around and wait for Lomachenko. So I want to stay busy.

I’m going to defend by interim [WBC lightweight] world title, and we’ll see what happens. One thing I can say is if I’m so easy, and so green and I’m not ready, then why not just fight me and beat me. Get me out of the way. If I just saw somebody that was an easy payday, I would fight him too. So why not just fight me and get me out of the way? I’m talking a lot, I’m making a lot of buzz, and I’m calling his name every single. I DMed him on Instagram, and he didn’t respond. Why not get me out of the way,” said Haney.

The writing it on the wall that Haney won’t be allowed to fight Lomachenko now. There’s too many things that are preventing the fight from happening. Lomachenko fights on ESPN, whereas Haney is on DAZN. Arum allowed his fighter Jose Ramirez to come over to DAZN recently to face WBO light welterweight champion Maurice Hooker in a unification fight. However, that was a special case in which Ramirez was the favorite against a flawed champion.

Top Rank with a lot to lose if Lomachenko faces Haney

Lomachenko wouldn’t be a huge favorite to beat Haney. He would likely be a favorite, but it would be by a slim margin. It would be too risky for Arum to let Lomachenko fight Haney, because the chances of him losing would be too high. Arum spent the last five years trying to turn Lomachenko into a star in the U.S. He’s told the boxing media that Lomachenko is like a young Muhammad Ali. But if Lomachenko gets beaten by Haney, Arum will have nothing to show for all those years. He’s not been able to turn Lomachenko into a star, and he’s partly to blame for that. All the uninteresting fights that Lomachenko has been involved with has arguably kept his career in the slow lane.

Arum should have stepped Lomachenko up against better opposition years ago instead of wasting his time against lesser guys. He could have matched Lomachenko against Manny Pacquiao, Jose Ramirez and Terence Crawford to turn him into a star, but he didn’t.

Hearn wants to match Haney against Jose Ramirez and/or Prograis-Taylor winner

“Even at 140, the match-up [are incredible]. Devin against Jose Ramirez,” said Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn. “That’s a great fight. Jose against the winner of [Regis] Prograis vs. [Josh] Taylor. That’s a great fight. Gervonta Davis, they’ve got history. They want that fight bad. The future; he’s [Haney] only 20. I told him tonight, ‘the world is your oyster. It really is.’ I’d love to get him to the UK. After the [Haney vs. Abdullaev] fight. I went on social media He was trending #1 in the UK, which is basically live on Sky Sports tonight. There was a lot of people staying up to watch him. It’s four o’clock in the morning, and every boxing fan in the UK was staying up to watch him. I’d even like to take him to Saudi Arabia to have him box on the Joshua card. There’s so many things I want to do.

Moving up to 140 to take on the winner of the World Boxing Super Series final between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor would be the best thing or Haney. It’s a fight that Hearn can easily make. Jose Ramirez would be a good option too for Haney, but Top Rank probably won’t let that fight happen. Ramirez looks too shaky for Top Rank to let him fight a guy like Haney.

Devin Haney to fight all over the world

The plan is to have him box all over America. We’ve done Washington now,” said Hearn. “We’ve done New York. Now we’re going to do LA, but there’s also the UK and the Middle East, and Asia. When you’re talking about building a global star; that’s why I keep talking about Saudi Arabia. People keep moaning about Saudi Arabia. There’s another world out there. America is a great country, and so is Britain, but it’s a big place. The people in the Middle East, the people in the far East, the people in Asia, and everyone, can be a Devin Haney fan. I feel like if you’re selling boxing, this is the person you want to showcase,” said Hearn.

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