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Devin Haney expected to vacate 135-lb titles to avoid Vasyl Lomachenko

Image: Devin Haney expected to vacate 135-lb titles to avoid Vasyl Lomachenko

By Sam Volz: Devin Haney should do the right thing by defending his undisputed lightweight championship against Vasyl Lomachenko next in the third & final of his three-fight contract with Top Rank.

Paulie Malignaggi predicts that Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) will vacate his title instead of facing Lomachenko and losing badly to him. Haney will abandon his belts and move as quickly as his feet will carry him to escape the 135-lb division.

Bob Arum has given Haney two easy chipshot fights against former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. Now Devin should do the right thing by giving Top Rank value for the third & final fight of his three-fight contract by facing Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs).

I don’t know how Haney could look at himself in the face if he vacated his belts and then told Top Rank he wants a warm-up fight for his debut at 140.

I mean, they’re going to want Haney to fight Teofimo Lopez at light welterweight if he elects to ignore their wishes and fight Lomachenko at 135.

Top Rank promotes Teofimo, and they will want value for Haney’s last fight on his three-fight contract. If Haney insists on an easy tune-up at 140, Top Rank will have gotten nothing out of their three fights with him under their banner.

Haney’s two fights with George Kambosos Jr failed to bring in huge numbers, and those were both incredibly boring fights to watch. Kambosos looked like an average Joe, a guy that would literally lose to most of the top 15 in the lightweight division.

If Haney thinks everything is going to be fine & dandy at 140, he’s kidding himself. He’s too weak for that weight class, and he will get battered to bits by the killers like Regis Prograis, Jose Zepeda, Jose Ramirez, and Subriel Matias.

The only way Haney will find success at 140 is if he cherry-picks opponents and stays far, far away from the above fighters.

With Haney’s agreement with Errol Spence Jr today about how difficult it is to make weight, you can take that as a hint that he’s going to vacate his lightweight titles, swerve Lomachenko in the process, and move up to 140 with his unbeaten record still intact.

Spence complained about how difficult it is to make weight at 147, and he said he wants to move up to 154.

Haney was in agreement with Spence, and you got to see that as a signal that the 23-year-old is about to drop his lightweight belts to flee the division to avoid a near-certain loss to Lomachenko.

“Finally, Devin Haney is officially done with George Kambosos, defending his lightweight titles against Kambosos in a lopsided decision win last weekend,” said Chris Mannix to DAZN Boxing Show.

See what I mean when I say that Haney is hinting BAD that he’s about to give up his lightweight belts without a fight. Lomachenko is an intimidating figure, and I guess you can’t blame Haney when/if he does vacate too avoid losing to him.

“Haney has one fight left in his contract with Top Rank, and Bob Arum has been vocal that if Vasyl Lomachenko defeats Jamaine Ortiz this month, he wants Haney to face Lomachenko next. Haney has options now that he’s no longer contractually bound to Kambosos. Should he face Lomachenko next?”

Some fans see Haney as a weight bully at 135, and they feel the only reason he’s had success in the division is that he’s basically a boiled-down 140-pounder who is much bigger than his opponents once he rehydrates.

“Yes, I like this fight. I love this fight for Haney because Haney was calling out Lomachenko when no one was calling him out,” said Sergio Mora. “So now that he holds all the belts, he has all the marbles on his side.

“He has all the leverage, all the attention. Why don’t you give Lomachenko a shot? Lomachenko will face anybody. He’ll fight anybody, anytime and anywhere, so I love this fight.

“Haney, you know, he became undisputed by beating one fighter in Kambosos. Now, he can really prove that he cleaned out the division if he can beat Lomachenko. Lomachenko is one of the best at 135 still.

“It might be prime time. It might not be prime picking but prime time for a bigger fighter, Haney, outgrowing the division and having one last fight at 135 against one of the best fighters at 135,” said Mora.

“It’s a great fight, no doubt about it, and it’s a potentially legacy-defining for Devin Haney,” said Mannix. “More important, I would argue, than the fights that secured him all the belts at 135 [against Kambosos]. That’s how special Vasyl Lomachenko is.

“It would be a huge fight as well in New York or Las Vegas, a pay-per-view in the U.S. I understand how big the fight is. I just think it’s a bad call for Devin Haney. I watched the weigh-in for the Kambosos fight. Devin Haney did not look good.

“That was not the look of a natural 135-pounder. That was a look of a fighter that was completely dried out and needed to squeeze every ounce of water in his system just to make 135 pounds. To his credit, he made the weight as he always makes the weight, and it didn’t affect him on fight night against Kambosos.

“But I’m reminded of something Teofimo Lopez said in the aftermath of the Kambosos fight. He said, ‘I should have just dropped the titles and moved up to 140 before Kambosos.’ Now some might say, ‘That’s just sour grapes; that’s hindsight,’ but we knew going into that fight Teofimo Lopez was having some trouble getting down to 135.

“I think it’s better for a fighter to leave a division one fight early rather than one fight too late. I think Teofimo if you go back and ask him, of course, he’d say, ‘I wish I’d have dropped the belts and gone up to 140 before I fought Kambosos.’

“I don’t want to see Haney say the exact same type of thing. It’s not like going to 140 doesn’t give him some incredibly appealing options. If you look at 140 pounds, it’s one of the deeper divisions now in all of boxing.

“Josh Taylor is still there, fighting at 140, and then there’s Regis Prograis, fighting for a title. Then you’re looking at the newcomers at 140. Teofimo Lopez, he’s going to fight for a second time in that weight class in December. Ryan Garcia just debuted at 140 pounds.

“These are guys that are new to the division and figure to be in the division for a couple of years. Devin Haney, he should just move, up, drop the belts, take one fight to get used to 140 pounds, and then take on one of the title holders that will be eager to face him.

“Take on Teofimo Lopez, challenge Ryan Garcia in a fight that we’ve been talking about now for years. As much as I’ve wanted to see Lomachenko against Devin Haney, I don’t think I want to see it anymore.

“I don’t think Devin Haney is a lightweight. I think right now, he’s a junior welterweight,” said Mannix.

“I like that idea, but if he has one more fight with Top Rank and Bob Arum, you know he’s going to want to make that fight with Lomachenko fight,” said Mora. “They’re not going to want him to just have a title defense. They’re going to want to have a big fight with Devin Haney.

“I agree with you. He’s outgrown the weight class. He did look sucked up and dry, as Devin Haney did against Kambosos in this rematch at the weigh-in. I’ve been there before, and I lost my title pretty much on the scale. I was a shell of myself. Haney was still able to outclass Kambosos, as he had youth on my side.

“He can’t continue to suck himself up dry like that, moving up in a weight class that he’s clearly outgrown. He’s a big kid.

“He’s 23, 24 years old, he has wide shoulders, and he has a lot of weight to distribute that. So 140 is going to be the next division, but if he can get one more fight at 135 comfortably, Loma is the way to go. That way, not only does he get a legend on his resume, you get the fight that you wanted before you were undisputed.

“Think about how that would make him feel and the message that it sends out to boxing. This is a kid in Devin Haney that reached all his dreams, making all the money in the world, and he still wants all the smoke; he still wants Lomachenko or no mas-Chenko.

“He wants all that smoke, and you’ve got to give this kid credit. He can probably be nominated as ‘Fighter of the Year’ as well. This is what we’re talking about in boxing. The best fighting the best, and Loma is still one of the best,” said Mora.

“He is, but we mentioned the weigh-in. I was watching coverage during the week,” said Mannix. “We had Devin Haney wearing sunglasses during the press conference. That tells me that his eyes are a little bit sunken and that he is struggling physically.

“Then there was the weigh-in; he was all the way down,” said Mannix.

“I get it, Mannix,” said Mora.

“You’re right. I don’t think Devin Haney would take a fight at the level of Lomachenko in his first fight at 140,” said Mannix. “It probably wouldn’t even make sense to do a fight with Teofimo Lopez right away.

“If you’re Top Rank and Devin Haney vacates the belts, all of a sudden, you’re one step closer to making a Shakur Stevenson vs. Lomachenko fight. Have Shakur fight for a vacant title at 135. Lomachenko is a mandatory for the WBO, so he fights for a vacant title.

“All of a sudden, you have these guys colliding for the unified championship. That’s not a bad consolation prize. That’s another match-up that Top Rank has been desperate to make, and if Devin Haney leaves the division, this gives them the opportunity to do it,” said Mannix.

“Well, then that’s when I would go and play matchmaker for Lomachenko. I don’t know if you want to face Shakur Stevenson. He’s all wrong for you. I think Loma at this point in his career. What is he, 33 years old, I think?

“It’s smart for him to make the right decision, the big money decision, by staying away from Shakur Stevenson unless you really have to face him and want to face him; Devin Haney makes all the sense in the world.

“Can you imagine Lomachenko, a three-division world champion, becoming undisputed at 135? That would be incredible,” said Mora.

“Devin Haney is not getting any younger, and it’s not going to get any easier to make 135 pounds.

“I’d hate to have him struggle to get there and then look less than his optimal self against Lomachenko. I think he might regret that,” said Mannix.

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