To say it’s been a “long time coming” feels disingenuous. Ahead of Devin Haney’s bout with former three-weight world champion, Venezuelan road warrior, Jorge Linares, fans will claim its an overdue litmus test. But that’s boxing, right?
Haney, remarkably still just 22-years old, enters his 26th bout looking to prove something once again to boxing’s fickle audience, determined to pick holes in his as-yet flawless ascent from Mexican club fights to Vegas arenas.
“I’m very happy to be having someone with a name, someone who’s credible,” ‘The Dream’ explained, when speaking to DAZN. “Some fans think that he actually could win the fight. So it feels good to go in there, with a little bit of butterflies and with a little chip on my shoulder, something to prove, something to show the world.”
The world wasn’t expecting Jorge Linares, though.
Fellow lightweight star Ryan Garcia had been campaigning for a fight with Haney, with the fact that both men are broadcast on DAZN seemingly paving over the road that separates either side of the sport’s streets. Garcia, though, went silent. He takes on Javier Fortuna next – the Dominican fighter posing a credible challenge – and Haney moves on, for now.
Haney, a Vegas-native, explained: “Me and my team knew that Ryan Garcia was all cap – we knew that he really didn’t want to fight me. He didn’t really want to fight Tank, he didn’t really want to fight Pacquiao. It was just it was all promotion. And only time will tell what’s really going on and, as everyone can see, he’s ducking me.
“Why fight for another mandatory when you could be fighting for a world title?” ponders the reigning WBC world champion; his statement hindered by his own, unintentional irony. It’s that ‘world title’ that adds fuel to the fire of Haney’s detractors, more specifically, the manner in which it was earned.
Since being elevated to full champion status by Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC, the slick Matchroom USA asset has come under fire, with photoshopped images of a mock belt (@ sign included) and constant references to emails when questioning the legitimacy of his current reign.
But it’s all cool because Haney believes he knows the truth; the talk, the posturing, the ghosting from those claiming to be superior. He knows that when the time comes, he will have to deliver. And he’s extremely confident that squaring off opposite Linares marks a significant step in the right direction.
“No fighter is going to go in there and say, ‘He’s 100% ready for me.’ I think that it’s a 50/50 fight, and of course he’s going to say that I’m not ready. No one knows if you’re really ready until that time comes. When that time comes, I’ll show the world.”
On May 29, Devin Haney will be afforded the chance to shed his old skin and emerge ever-closer to genuine superstardom. Eddie Hearn believes Haney is this next generation’s Floyd Mayweather, but we’ve heard that rhetoric too often over the last decade. He’s got his own jewellery, and his own successes.
Haney, his father Bill, Matchroom USA, Hearn and sports streaming giant DAZN think it’s the right time to push themselves into a spot where Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia can’t ignore him. First up is Jorge Linares, and then who? Whoever is considered the best.
At just 22, the question isn’t: why has it taken so long? No, the question is: could it be too much, too soon?