By Adam Baskin: Bill Haney says that Devin Haney will now be moving up to 140 to take on WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis next rather than stay at 135 to defend his undisputed lightweight championship against his WBC mandatory Shakur Stevenson.
ESPN reports that Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) will face Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs), and if victorious, he’ll then battle WBO 140-lb champion Teofimo Lopez in a unification bout, which would be a VERY lucrative one for both fighters.
Haney needs Prograis’ WBC title for leverage
It’s a logical move for Haney, 24, to make because his chances of success against Shakur Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) would be minimal, especially given the problems Devin has been having making weight at 135. The WBC 140-lb title = $$$ for Haney.
Devin needs the WBC strap because without it, he would be a mere challenger to WBO champion Teofimo, meaning that would have to accept a smaller slice of the financial pie
Although fighting Prograis likely won’t be for the kind of money Haney would have made had he stayed at lightweight to defend against Shaakur, his chances of winning are much higher.
The 34-year-old Prograis is old, washed, and lacks mobility, arm length, and the ability to adapt to defeat Haney. What’s most important for Haney is to capture the WBC 140-lb belt because that’s a title that gives him credibility, and he can use it as leverage to get a better financial deal with WBO champion Teofimo Lopez.
The fight against Teofimo would be an opportunity for Haney to receive a career-high payday, but for that to happen, he needs Prograis’ WBC title so he can transmute the belt into a tremendous payday.
Shakur says Haney’s offer was fake
“I don’t think that was a real offer. I think that was something they throw out there to try and make themselves look good,” said Shakur Stevenson to Fighthype about the 25% Devin Haney offered him for a fight.
Obviously, the 75-25 offer from Haney to Shakur was a pretend one, designed to give him cover with the boxing public as if to say, ‘See, I tried to make the fight with Shakur, but he didn’t want it.’
It was likely a pseudo-offer from Haney to trick the public so he’d have an excuse for ducking Stevenson.
“Even if I said, ‘Let’s do it,’ I don’t think they would have do that. I don’t think they want to fight me. They have no real interest in fighting me right now. They know how dangerous I am,” said Shakur about Team Haney wanting no part of fighting him and making a fake offer for theatrical purposes to save face, to make it appear to the unsuspecting public that they tried to fight him.
“Being that he’s having a hard time making weight [for 135], I don’t think he really wants to get in the ring.
“We’re working behind the scenes right now. There’s a lot of work being done by my team by my management, and we’re doing our best to try and make the fight happen,” said Shakur.
Once Haney vacates his four lightweight titless, Shakur can fight for one of them, possibly the WBC strap. He wants to battle Vasily Lomachenko for one of them, but it’s likely Top Rank will move him in the direction of fighting for the IBF belt against George Kambosos Jr.
It makes more sense for Top Rank to delay making the Lomachenko vs. Haney fight right now because if they both capture vacant 135-lb titles once Haney fragments them, it would keep those two revenue streams going. Moreover, it would set up a lucrative unification fight down the road between Shakur and Loma.