By Jim Maltzman: WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney reveals that he was surprised at the lack of punching power from former IBF/WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa last Saturday. After hearing so much about Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs) over the years, Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) expected more from him.
Haney says he was hurting the 39-year-old Gambo even with light shots last Saturday in their fight at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Hollywood, Florida.
After the fight, Haney, 21, was happy and proud that he’d gotten through the 12 round contest with the 2004 Olympic gold medalist Gamboa without getting his face marked up.
Haney’s theory on why Gamboa didn’t try harder is he realized early that he had no chance of winning. So rather than putting himself at risk of being knocked out, Gamboa went into survival mode.
Haney took little punishment
In sending a message to the other top lightweights, Haney said, “The other guys fought him [Gamboa], and look at their face and look at mine,” Haney said in comparing himself favorably to the past fighters that had fought Gamboa.
Gamboa marked up Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis’ face, and he landed a lot of shots on Terence Crawford, Orlando Salido, Jason Sosa, Rene Alvarado, and Roman Martinez. However, most f those fights took place a long time ago when Gamboa was younger, and fighting in lower weight classes.
It was a good performance. Gamboa is a crafty opponent, he did everything to survive,” Haney said to Fighthype post-fight in debriefing about his win over Yuriorkis.
“He would have damn near jumped on my back if he could. I want to make the big fights happen. Like I said, Gamboa was a stepping stone. He was someone to fill in a space, but that’s not the fight that I want. And I want to make the big fights happen.
I wanted to knock him out. And I knew he was durable and he would try and survive. I figured that I would get him out of there, but that mofo is crafty,” Haney said in expressing irritation at failing to set himself apart from past opponents that had beaten Gamboa.
“And I wanted to get the knockout. The key to it was to get the knockout, but like I said, it was just a stepping stone. It was a good experience for me. But the fights that I want are the big fights,” said Haney.
Knockouts are less important than learning from the fight, and Haney got a lot from the win. If there had been a crowd present, Gamboa likely would have fought harder, which would have led to him taking more chances.
Haney would have had countless opportunities to score a knockout under those conditions.
Devin: Gamboa didn’t punch hard at all
“I wouldn’t say ‘surprised,” said Haney when asked if he was surprised that Gamboa was able to stand up to his power. “I knew he’d do anything to survive. He did a lot of holding. I knew he would hold, but it was excessive holding.
“Actually, surprisingly, he didn’t punch hard at all,” Devin said about Gamboa’s power. “I thought he’d have some power, and that’s what made me take some big shots because I didn’t feel any power, honestly. I got a lot of respect for Gamboa.
“He’s done a lot in the sport of boxing, and he’s been around for years since I was a little kid. I have nothing bad to say about him. He went in there and put in a good fight.
“He lasted 12 rounds against me. I can’t say anything bad about the guy. I think he came to win, but once he realized he couldn’t win, he came to survive. He started to go into the survival mode. I can’t remember the round, but it was early,” said Haney.
Gamboa had been out of the ring for 11 months before last Saturday, and he didn’t look like he’d trained hard enough. It might have been all the months that he had to take it easy after his surgery to repair his torn Achilles.
It wasn’t the same Gamboa that fought Gervonta Davis last December or the one that beat Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez last year in July.
Gamboa got countered several times in the first two rounds and reacted to that by not letting his hands go. Also, Gamboa started holding early on and keeping Haney from land punches when they were in close.
When Gamboa did throw punches, he quickly tied Haney up to keep him from countering when he would miss. The referee eventually docked Gamboa a point in the 11th, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to hold.
Haney wants all the belts at 135
“Ryan Garcia hasn’t shown that he wants to fight me,” Haney said. “He said that’s not a fight that he’s looking for. The fights that I’m looking for are the titleholders.
“If the fight with Ryan Garcia happens, it does, but I’m looking for the titleholders. I want all the belts. Styles make fights,” Haney said when asked what would have happened if it were Ryan Garcia in the ring last Saturday instead of Gamboa. “You fight different guys in different ways.
“Of all the shots he hit me with, it was just the headbutts, and that’s about it,” Haney said in minimizing Gamboa’s power after the contest. “I didn’t feel nothing. He got me with some good headbutts.
“I wanted to get the knockout. There were times that I hit him, I didn’t even know I was hurting him. It looked like little baby shots that hurt him.
“Look at his face. He looked like he just came from a spar, no marks,” said trainer Mickey Bey about Haney’s face. “Gamboa, he was crafty, he was holding a whole lot, but it was a good fight. I’m glad Devin is back after a year. He’s ready to come right back. He pitched a shutout just like we predicted,” said Bey.
Haney will get his chance sooner or later to take on IBF/WBA/WBC [Franchise]/WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. But for the time being, Matchroom needs to keep him busy defending his WBC title. The big fights will come once fans demand them.