Devin Haney hopes to elevate his stock in a vibrant lightweight division when he meets old master Jorge Linares at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas this Saturday evening.

WBC title holder Haney is one of a quartet of outstanding American 135-pounders that also features ‘undisputed’ champion Teofimo Lopez, crossover star Ryan Garcia and Baltimore banger Gervonta Davis (who will test the waters at 140lbs against Mario Barrios on June 26).

This being professional boxing none of the four stars have yet to meet, but Haney can raise his credibility rating with a dominant win over the cultured Linares (47-5, 29 KOs). The three-weight champion from Venezuela is now firmly planted in the veteran camp at 35, but blows hot and cold. You’re never quite sure what Linares you are going to get. If he can emulate something close to his past form, the talented but relatively untested Haney could be in for a difficult night.

Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) insists he is not chasing the stoppage, but the young Las Vegan needs to impress after an uninspiring points win over Yuriorkis Gamboa last time out in November. The seasoned Linares is, of course, vowing to spring the surprise. 

So, who wins? Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers and soothsayers attempt to predict the outcome as youth battles experience.

I really, really think this is a dangerous bit of matchmaking. Devin Haney is a classy operator and he’s looked comfortable for the most part, but Jorge Linares machine-gun combination punching will pose an altogether different test. I’ll edge it to Haney, but the bookmakers’ odds on Linares are ludicrous. It depends on what the Venezuelan has left, or if his sometimes-questionable chin has further deteriorated. Haney by wide, unanimous decision. – Craig Scott.

If you have ever spoken to the owner of a second-hand Alfa Romeo they will almost certainly have bored you with tales of the love they have for their car. They will tell you about its good looks, style and how incredible it can be. They overlook its flaws: the wiring is simply not of the same quality as the engine and, inevitably, it will fail to complete a simple task, leaving its admirer broken-hearted at the side of the road. By any metric the Alfa is undeserving of the adulation it receives, it is not reliable and its performance statistics don’t back up the anecdotes. However, facts and logic aren’t important to fans of the Italian car manufacturer, it is about how the vehicle makes them feel. Jorge Linares is the boxing equivalent of an Alfa Romeo. His supporters will tell you he is one of the finest technicians of his era. However, there isn’t a single win on his record to support such a statement. His best victory is probably a razor-thin decision against Luke Campbell. Linares is flawed but fun! Devin Haney is the polar opposite: risk-adverse but uninspiring. Younger, fresher and faster, Haney should win this comfortably. – John A. McDonald.

Although Linares is a classy operator, he is well past his best. This is a perfect piece of matchmaking intended to give Haney a convincing win and he will achieve that via stoppage sometime after round six. – Luke G. Williams.

It feels as though Haney’s under a degree of pressure in this one to win in style. His rather pedestrian victory over Gamboa came against a backdrop of explosive performances from rivals Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Isaac Cruz and Teofimo Lopez but they were priceless rounds in the bank nonetheless for the 22-year-old. Ben Davison’s addition to his team was a big surprise and, though it’s early days for them both, it’ll be interesting to see if this move bears fruit. Linares’ fluidity in his pomp was a joy to behold, but it appears that those days ended after that wonderful fight with Vasiliy Lomachenko. If he has another of those performances in him we’re in for a hell of a fight but I just can’t see it. I’m expecting Haney to respond to the pressure he’s under in style. Prediction: Haney KO rounds 7-9. – Phil Rogers.

Haney, it’s easy to forget, is still only 22 and a work in progress. This should be a case of right place, right time for the young American. Linares is a name opponent but for all his skills carries a rapidly diminishing threat level. Haney can be too safety conscious but I expect a bit more devil here as he scores a career-boosting stoppage around the ninth round. – Mark Butcher.

Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA.