Devin Haney to fight on October 3 against Gamboa or Fortuna
By Dan Ambrose: Devin Haney will be emerging from an 11-month layoff on October 3 to defend his WBC lightweight belt against former world champions Yuriorkis Gamboa or Javier Fortuna.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn points out that Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) would generally need a tune-up fight, as he’s coming off of a shoulder operation, also, to close to a year layoff, but things are different now.
With the pandemic and the need for essential fights for fans, Haney, 21, doesn’t have the luxury to take an easy fight.
Fans want Haney to fight Fortuna
Boxing fans overwhelmingly want the 32-year-old former WBA super featherweight champion Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs) as Haney’s next opponent.
The fans view the recently knocked out 38-year-old Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs) as too old, and they don’t like the fact that he’s coming off of a torn Achilles in his 12th round stoppage loss to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis last December in Atlanta.
Nevertheless, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist Gamboa is the more recognizable name than Fortuna, and he’s had a better amateur and pro career. Moreover, Gamboa would likely beat Fortuna, even at 38. Gamboa and Fortuna have an opponent in common in Jason Sosa.
Fortuna was knocked out in the 11th round by Sosa in 2016, whereas Gamboa defeated him by a 10 round decision in 2017. Boxing News 24 had Gamboa beating Sosa by a 96-92 score. As such, if you go by how the two fighters performed against the same opponent, you have to view Gamboa s the better option for Haney.
Fortuna lost to Robert Easter by a 12 round split decision in 2018, and he was also involved in a weird fight against Adrian Granados in the same year.
Haney was getting worked over by Granados when he suddenly fell out of the ring. Some boxing fans believe Fortuna intentionally fell out of the ring and faked an injury to save himself from suffering another loss.
“He’s fighting on October 3 in the U.S.,” said Hearn to IFL TV on Devin Haney’s next fight. “We’re talking about Gamboa and Fortuna. He fell out of a fight with Linares, so he’s an option as well.”
Haney coming off shoulder surgery
“One of those guys is most likely for Devin Haney for October 3. Devin Haney is in the position where he wants the big tests and the big fights,” continued Hearn.
“He’s coming off of a year layoff with a shoulder operation. So normally you take an easier fight, but that doesn’t exist right now. He’s got his head around that, and he said, ‘Do you know what? Give me a real fight,’ and Fortuna and Gamboa are a real fight for Devin. So we’ll have to see,” said Hearn.
Haney must face an opponent with a good track record, who will be willing to go out on his shield if need be. Gamboa never fails to put in exciting fights, and he doesn’t have a track record of losing to less than the best.
Fortuna’s shaky performances against Granados, Easter Jr, and Sosa would make this writer apprehensive about using him as an opponent for Haney. It’s one thing if Fortuna were fighting the likes of Luke Campbell in a WBC title eliminator, but it’s another thing entirely for him to be challenging for a world title.
Hearn wants to turn Haney into a superstar, and he can’t do that if he matches him against a guy that falls apart when facing pressure fighters, as Fortuna does. Gamboa thrives when fighting opposition that presses him continuously for an entire contest, but you can’t say the same thing about Fortuna.
Gamboa has fought better opposition than Fortuna
Despite suffering an Achilles injury against Davis, Gamboa had his moments in the fight in lasting until the 12th round. Fortuna likely wouldn’t have made it past six rounds against a fighter like Davis.
Haney needs someone with a proven track record like Gamboa and not someone that falls apart mentally the way that Fortuna has shown when stepping it up a notch.
Picking Gamboa will give boxing fans an opponent to compare Haney to WBA regular’ lightweight champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. It can only benefit Haney if he does a better job of beating Gamboa than Tank did.
But there’s also risk involved in Haney facing Gamboa, as he might lose or look bad. Even at 38, Gamboa is still faster and has much better punching power.
Gamboa is someone that can potentially expose Haney and show that he’s not the guy that some people believe him to be. That’s something Hearn needs to keep in mind when he makes his pick between Gamboa and Fortuna.
The one thing that Fortuna has going for him over Gamboa is he’s ranked higher #1 with the World Boxing Council, but he hasn’t faced better opposition. There’s no comparison between the two fighters.
These are the best fighters Gamboa has fought during his 13-year pro career:
- Orlando Solido
- Jorge Solis
- Gervonta Davis
- Daniel Ponce de Leon
- Michael Farenas
- Darleys Perez
- Roman Martinez
- Terence Crawford
- Miguel Bertran Jr
Fortuna’s best opponents during his 11-year career
- Jesus Andres Cuellar
- Jason Sosa
- Sharif Bogere
- Adrian Granados
- Robert Easter Jr
- Bryan Vasquez
Yuriorkis could expose Haney
If the idea is for Hearn to choose an opponent for Haney that the casual boxing fans are familiar with, then hands down, Gamboa is the far better choice than Fortuna Although Gamboa has been a pro for only two years longer than Fortuna, he’s been involved in a lot bigger fights against far better opposition.
Fortuna has wasted a lot of time in his 11-year pro carer facing 2nd tier fighters, and he’s come apart at the seams when he’s been put in with the best. Had the fight between Campbell and Fortuna taken place this year, we’d likely have seen Javier crumbling the way he normally does when stepping it up against better opposition.
The only drawback in Hearn letting Haney defend against Gamboa is it will give boxing fans a chance to compare him to Tank Davis. Unfortunately, Haney doesn’t have the same speed, power, or talent that Gervonta has going for him.
If fans don’t know that now, they’ll it for sure if Haney elects to take on Gamboa. If Hearn wants to hide that from fans, then he should match Haney against Fortuna instead of Gamboa because he’s likely to struggle against the more accomplished Cuban fighter.
Heck, Haney might even lose to Gamboa. If the talented Cuban fighter is 100% physically, you can’t rule out a win for him over Haney.
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