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Devin Haney to fight in October, options: Richard Commey & Gary Russell Jr

Devin Haney Gary Russell Jr.

By Dan Ambrose: WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney will be fighting in October against possibly former IBF 135-lb champion Richard Commey or Gary Russell Jr if WBC mandatory Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz Jr chooses to fight Ryan Garcia next.

Haney, 22, would be taking a tremendous risk in defending against the big-punching Commey or the lightning-fast Russell Jr.

Devin is coming off a disappointing 12 round decision win over Javier Fortuna on May 29th in a fight where he was hurt the entire second half of the contest.

Michael Benson is reporting that Haney’s promoter Eddie Hearn says he’s open to matching Devin (26-0, 15 KOs) against Commey (30-3, 27 KOs) or featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) next in October if World Boxing Council mandatory Jojo Diaz Jr takes on Ryan Garcia.

Both Haney and Hearn don’t appear to be too pleased with Diaz Jr, 28, suddenly changing his mind about wanting to fight for the WBC title after his win over Javier Fortuna on July 9th in a 135-lb title eliminator.

If Diaz Jr chooses to go through with the fight with Ryan Garcia, he would be the second straight WBC mandatory that chose NOT to face Haney after winning a title eliminator.

On the surface, that may seem like they’re avoiding Haney, but it’s more likely indicative of him not being a popular fighter with a large fanbase and the money not being in line with what Ryan and Diaz Jr can get elsewhere.

Devin Haney Gary Russell Jr.

“That says everything you need to know about what people think of Devin,” said Hearn to @MichaelBensonn.

It REALLY means that Haney isn’t a popular fighter, and his style of fighting is on the dull side.

Right now, Haney’s popularity, or lack thereof, makes him someone that isn’t important enough to fight. He’s got the WBC lightweight title, and that’s about it.

Hearn should think twice before letting Haney fight Russell Jr or Commey because those guys are a lot more experienced than he is, and they could take advantage of his chin issues.

Haney would have lost his last fight against Linares if the referee had stepped in and warned or penalized him for his constant holding that he was using to survive in the championship rounds after getting hurt.

Had the referee policed the chronic holding that Haney was doing in the fight, Linares would have won going away.

Hopefully, Haney doesn’t have any lingering issues with his punch resistance after being hurt several times by Linares. If Haney is now prone to suffering concussions, he will not last long against Commey or Russell.

A better option for Haney’s next fight would be one of these guys:

  • Yvan Mendy
  • Emmanuel Tagoe
  • Luke Campbell
  • Francesco Patera
  • Francisco Vargas

Commey, 34, is coming off a sixth round knockout win over Jackson Marinez on February 13th. That was Commey’s first fight since losing his IBF lightweight title to Teofimo Lopez in a second round by last December.

Commey has only been knocked out once in his ten-year professional career, so he’s unlikely to fold early against Haney. If Haney has to deal with Commey’s punching power for a full fight, we could see him get hurt once again.

But if Commey hurts Haney, he’s a great finisher, and he’s not going to be foiled by clinching the way Linares was.

Devin Haney Gary Russell Jr.

Russell Jr, 33, hasn’t fought in a year and a half since successfully defending his WBC 126-lb title, defeating Tugstsogt Nyambayar by a 12 round unanimous decision.

At 5’4 1/2″, Russell Jr would be giving away a lot of size and age to the 5’8″ Haney, but that might not matter. Russell Jr will likely beat him if Haney is anywhere near as bad as he looked against Linares.


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