Devin Haney’s first lightweight title defense didn’t exactly wow the crowd Saturday night in Los Angeles.
The 20-year-old champion did dominate Alfredo Santiago in their 12-round, 135-pound championship match at Staples Center. Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) dropped Santiago in the fifth round and won all 12 rounds on each of the three judges’ scorecards on the Logan Paul-KSI undercard.
Karen Holderfield, Alejandro Rochin and Zachary Young all scored the fight for Haney by the same margin, 120-107. Haney retained the WBC lightweight title and dealt the Dominican Republic’s Santiago his first professional defeat (12-1, 4 KOs).
“I felt like I did an all right performance,” Haney told DAZN’s Chris Mannix following his win. “I could’ve did better, but in one of the rounds I dislocated my right shoulder, so my shoulder was bad the whole fight. But I went in there, I showed I was a true champion, I got the win, I won on every scorecard. So, I’m happy.”
By the final round, it was obvious Haney would win comfortably on the scorecards unless Santiago somehow caught him with a huge punch he clearly needed to possibly pull of an upset.
A left hook by Santiago caught Haney as Haney moved straight back about 1:15 into the 12th round. Haney mostly fought cautiously for the remainder of the final round, content to win on points.
Santiago’s right hand hit Haney, who quickly countered with a right hand when there was just over a minute to go in the 11th round.
Haney’s right hand to the side of Santiago’s head caused Santiago to hold him with just over two minutes remaining in the 11th round.
Santiago had some success in the ninth round, yet Haney had his way with him throughout the 10th round.
Santiago drilled Haney with two right hands in a 10-second span just after the midway mark of the ninth round. Referee Jerry Cantu gave Santiago time to recover with 36 seconds to go in the ninth and warned Haney for low blows.
A left-right combination by Santiago hit Haney flush about 35 seconds into the eighth round. Haney controlled most of the rest of that round, including landing a right hand to the side of Santiago’s head just prior to the eighth round ending.
An overhand right by Haney moved Santiago into the ropes in the final 10 seconds of the seventh round.
A round after Haney dropped him, Santiago got back into the bout in the sixth round. Santiago nailed Haney with an overhand right when there were just under 30 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Haney hammered Santiago with a left and a right to the body with just under 50 seconds left in the fifth round. A right uppercut by Haney hurt Santiago when there were 30 seconds to go in the fifth.
A left-right combination by Haney sent Santiago to the canvas three seconds later.
Santiago got up and largely held his way to the end of the round.
Santiago started the fourth round in a southpaw stance. He hit Haney with a left-right combination that got Haney’s attention 25 seconds into that round.
Santiago went down with 1:35 to go in the fourth, but Cantu called it a push. Haney hit Santiago with a right hand on the top of his head, but he shoved Santiago with his left hand.
Santiago hit Haney with a chopping right hand to the side of his head with just over 20 seconds remaining in the third round.
Haney hit Santiago with a straight right hand when there was just under 30 seconds to go in the second round. A right hand by Santiago caught Haney on the side of his head 1:10 into the second round.
With just under a minute to go in the first round, Haney landed a left hook, only to have Santiago fire back with a right hand that connected. Just before the bell sounded to end the first round, Santiago caught Haney at the end of a lunging left hook.
Eleven rounds later, Las Vegas’ Haney completed his first defense of the WBC lightweight title. It was Haney’s second fight in less than two months.
Haney stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-1, 7 KOs) following the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title September 13 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. The WBC then elevated Haney from its interim lightweight champion to its world champion during its annual convention two weeks ago in Cancun, Mexico.
The WBC changed Haney’s standing because the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization declared Vasiliy Lomachenko its franchise champion within the 135-pound division. Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) won the then-vacant WBC lightweight title by out-boxing England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) to win a 12-round unanimous decision August 31 at O2 Arena in London.
Haney had hoped to battle Campbell for the WBC lightweight title Mikey Garcia gave up when he jumped up two weight classes to challenge IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. on March 16 in Arlington, Texas. Rather than sanctioning a Haney-Campbell clash, the WBC ordered a Lomachenko-Campbell bout, even though Lomachenko, who owns the WBA and WBO lightweight crowns, wasn’t ranked by the WBC.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.