WBC lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney is in the unenviable position of proving himself among his peers.
Although all boxers are only as good as their last fight, Haney has received much criticism from the other rising stars in his division for lack of substantial opponents.
That all changed when his next bout against Jorge Linares announcement came on Wednesday.
The spotlight will be on Haney (25-0, 18 KOs) over Memorial Day Weekend at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Saturday, May 29, as he puts his belt on the line for the third time, this time taking on Linares.
The fight will provide the toughest test of the young champion’s talents.
The 22-year-old star will box in his Las Vegas backyard for just the third time in his career and the first time since his sixth pro outing in May 2016.
‘The Dream’ was elevated to World champion after a destructive KO win over Zaur Abdullaev in New York in September 2019. He defended his belt twice with comfortable distance wins over Alfredo Santiago in November 2019 and Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“I’m very excited to be making my third World title defense against a great fighter like Jorge Linares, who will be the best fighter I will have ever faced in my career,” said Haney. “He’s a three-division World champion who has fought at the championship level for the past thirteen years.
“I grew up worldwide, and the fact that this fight is happening in Las Vegas is incredible. Boxing fans around the world are eager to see me step up in competition which is great, and I know Linares is coming to fight.
“I’m ready to give the fans a spectacular performance. The better the competition brings the best out of me. Against Linares, I’m going to show the world why I’m the king of the Lightweight division.”
Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) is looking to become a two-time WBC titlist. He won the strap back in December 2014 against Francisco Javier Prieto.
He then went on a run that saw the Venezuelan beat Kevin Mitchell, Ivan Cano, Anthony Crolla twice, Luke Campbell, and Mercito Gesta over a four-year run as Lightweight king.
However, he lost it after his to-and-fro clash with Vasiliy Lomachenko in New York in May 2018.
Since then, the game has changed, and Linares wants to be in the new picture. The 35-year-old takes on Haney in his 15th World title battle and his 53rd contest in over 18 years as a pro.
However, Linares believes that there are plenty more chapters to be written in his storied career.
“This is my moment to show the world that I still have a lot more to give at 135 pounds,” said Linares. “Devin Haney is a talented and quick-handed young man, but when I was his age, I had already become a world champion by snatching the title away from a real World champion like Oscar Larios. And now you can imagine how much more experience I have now at an age where I feel stronger and better than ever.”
“Without a doubt it will be a tremendous fight, but I will demonstrate that Haney made a big mistake by accepting a challenge that he is still not ready to overcome.”
“This is the breakout fight that shows the world that Devin Haney is the best lightweight on the planet,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Jorge Linares is a tremendous fighter, a three-weight king that has speed, power, and plenty of experience.
“I’ve represented four fighters who have attempted to beat Jorge and failed, but this time I believe we have the future king of the division in Devin, and this is his moment. May 29, the bright lights of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, this is the moment.”
Still, Linares and his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions feel that this is a shine stealing moment in lightweight history.
“We have worked with Jorge Linares for a long time and anytime the so-called experts count him out, he comes back with a vengeance,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman, and CEO of Golden Boy. “Haney has never confronted anyone even close to Jorge’s skill level, and at 135lbs he is still a force to be reckoned with for anyone in the division.”