LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney held on Saturday night, literally and figuratively.

The 22-year-old lightweight champion was in complete command of his fight against Jorge Linares until the dangerous Linares hurt him with a combination right before the bell sounded to end the 10th round. Haney held excessively during the 11th and 12th rounds, enough to keep Linares from hurting him badly again and survived until the final bell.

Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) won a unanimous decision to retain his WBC world 135-pound championship, but fans inside Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena booed him when he jumped on the ropes in his corner and then Linares’ corner after the final bell. Judges Dave Moretti (115-113), Patricia Morse Jarman (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-112) all scored the fight for Haney, who seemed completely committed to knocking out Linares (47-6, 29 KOs) and putting on a crowd-pleasing performance before he got hurt late in the 10th round.

The crowd booed when Michael Buffer announced the decision as well, but Haney clearly had built enough of a lead before the final two rounds to win the fight. Haney, who has been criticized by fans and media for being a boring boxer at times, seemed intent to entertain prior to those troublesome moments in the championship rounds.

Haney handled obvious adversity for the first time in his five-year pro career, too.

“I came in here, I got the win and I’m satisfied,” Haney told DAZN’s Chris Mannix during his post-fight interview. “That’s what the fans wanted to see, if I could go in there and I could walk my opponent down, hit him with some big shots. I showed that I could do it all. I can box, I can bang. You know, he hit me with a good shot. I faced adversity and I got the job done.”

The Oakland native became the first opponent to defeat Linares on points, though. The Venezuelan veteran’s previous five defeats resulted in technical knockouts.

Haney, a Las Vegas resident who went off as a 7-1 favorite, made the third defense of the WBC world lightweight title he won when he stopped Zaur Abdullaev after rounds in September 2019 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.

Mora sternly warned Linares for hitting Haney behind his head about 45 seconds into the 12th round. Linares tried to hurt Haney again in that final round, but Haney held him and made his way to the final bell.

Haney’s legs still weren’t under him at the start of the 11th round because Linares hurt him just before the 10th round concluded. Linares landed a left hook early in that round that affected Haney.

A resourceful Haney held a lot during the 11th round, enough to regain his senses, and he threw hard punches of his own toward the end of that three-minute period.

A right-left combination by Linares just before the 10th round ended hurt Haney and caused him to take a misstep as he walked toward his corner. Linares noticed and mockingly used his arms to guide Haney back to his corner.

“It was a good shot,” Haney said. “I was never hurt. But at the end of the day, I’m gonna go in there, box smart. He hit me with a good shot. I never was hurt, but I still continued to box smart.

“Sometimes when you get hit with a good shot, I wasn’t hurt, but you gotta still be smart in there. And that was the game plan. You know, even if you get hit with a good shot, you still box smart, you still continue to do what your game plan was. And I did that, and I got the win.”

Linares’ left hook landed flush with 50 seconds to go in the 10th round.

A left uppercut by Linares briefly stopped Haney in his tracks in the ninth round. They traded hard shots again near the end of the ninth round, which seemed to energize Linares as he went back to his corner.

Haney blasted Linares with a left hook barely 15 seconds into the eighth round. Yet another left uppercut by Haney landed with just over two minutes left on the clock in the eighth round.

Haney controlled the action for the remainder of the eighth round,

Haney snuck in another left uppercut with just over a minute to go in the seventh round. A straight right hand by Haney split Linares’ guard with 30 seconds to go in the seventh round.

Haney nailed Linares with a right uppercut 18 seconds into the sixth round. Haney also clipped Linares with a left hook 1:10 into the sixth round.

Linares landed a flush right hand with 1:20 to go in the sixth round. Haney seemed to stun Linares with a right hand when there was just over a minute remaining in the sixth round.

Linares came back, however, to land a right-left combination that snapped back Haney’s head with approximately 10 seconds to go in the sixth round.

Haney landed another left uppercut in the opening minute of the fifth round. Haney hammered away Linares’ body at later points of the fifth round.

Linares landed a right hand and then two flush left hooks in exchanges in the final 30 seconds of the fifth round. Haney didn’t seem bothered by those shots, though, and fired back with power shots of his own.

Barely 30 seconds into the fourth round, Linares landed a left hook up top. Haney took that punch well and continued to work off his jab.

Linares caught Haney with another left hook with about 1:35 to go in the fourth round. Linares’ right-left combination connected in the final minute of the fourth round, but Haney shrugged it off.

Haney came back to blast Linares with a left hook to his head and another left hook to his body after Linares landed those shots.

A right hand by Haney knocked Linares off balance in the opening minute of the third round. Linares waved Haney forward after taking that shot.

Haney hit Linares with a left uppercut with just over 30 seconds to go in the third round.

Haney’s combination connected less than 30 seconds into the second round. About 25 seconds later, Haney landed a right uppercut on the inside.

Haney’s hand speed and combination punching continued to trouble Linares throughout the second round. Mora warned Haney for the second time for fouling in the final minute of the second round, this time for using his forearm against Linares’ neck.

Haney connected with a left hook about 1:10 into the first round. He worked well off his jab later in the first round.

Linares’ left hook grazed the side of Haney’s head late in the first round.

Haney tried to establish himself immediately by throwing several hard shots at Linares within the first 30 seconds of their fight.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.