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Devin Haney elevated to WBC lightweight champion

Vasyl Lomachenko

By Chris Williams: The World Boxing Council has upgraded interim champion Devin Haney to WBC lightweight champion following their move in making Vasiliy Lomachenko ‘Franchise’ champion at 135. Unfortunately, it’s not the greatest way for the young 20-year-old Haney to become a world champion. Haney was looking forward to adding Lomachenko’s scalp to his growing collection of fine pelts.

Lomachenko WANTED the Franchise tag for some reason. Just why is unknown. Some believe Lomachenko and his promoters at Top Rank Boxing don’t fancy the idea of fighting Haney. He’s a tough style match-up for Lomachenko due to his Mayweather-esque speed and skills. Lomachenko has never shown much interest in fighting Haney, and now longer has to look over his shoulder at him.

By Lomachenko being given the WBC Franchise tag, he can stay lightweight champion without being required to fight the unbeaten phenom. With the new Franchise tag, Lomachenko can still say he’s the WBC lightweight champion without having to fight the highly talented Haney and risk his backside.

Devin Haney champion by default

Haney is now a champion by default.  The WBC’s decision to upgrade Haney to their lightweight champion robs him of the ability to prove himself as deserving of a title. It’s not a great deal for Haney, even though he’s now the WBC’s world champion at 135.

Without the chance to fight Lomachenko for the WBC title, Haney will be perceived by some boxing fans as a secondary or fake champion. Haney is in an impossible situation right now, since Lomachenko has no interest in fighting him.

Lomachenko is set to face the winner of the Richard Commey vs. Teofimo Lopez fight for the undisputed lightweight championship next year. From there, Loma will vacate all 4 lightweight titles, and move back down to 130. Haney won’t have a chance to fight Lomachenko.

If Lomachenko does offer Haney a chance to fight him, it’ll likely take place at super featherweight. That won’t be easy for Haney to drop down in weight, because he’s a natural lightweight.

WBC approves Javier Fortuna vs. Jesus Cuellar as final eliminator

At the same time, the WBC stated that the November 2 fight between Javier Fortuna and Jesus Cuellar will be a final eliminator. The winner of the fight will be WBC champion Haney’s mandatory challenger.

It’s a questionable move on the part of the WBC to have the Fortuna vs. Cuellar fight be a final eliminator. The 33-year-old Cuellar (29-3, 22 KOs) has lost 2 out of his last 3 fights, and he’s coming off of a 2nd round stoppage win over journeyman Carlos Padilla (16-10-1, 10 KOs) on March 9.

Cuellar’s last win over a quality opponent was four years ago when he beat Jonathan Oquendo by a 12 round unanimous decision in December 2015. Fortuna (34-2-1, 23 KOs) has one win in his last three fights. It’s a race to the bottom when it comes to the WBC’s selection of contenders to fight in their lightweight eliminator.

WBC made this announcement on Wednesday: 

“Lomachenko was named WBC Franchise champion today, and No. 1 ranked WBC interim champion Devin Haney of the U.S.A. was elevated to world champion. The fight on November 2 between No. 5 ranked Javier Fortuna of Dominican Republic and Jesus Cuellar of Argentina was approved as a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger.”

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