LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney wouldn’t budge Thursday.

No matter how many reporters asked after their press conference, Haney wouldn’t predict a knockout of Jorge Linares on Saturday night. Haney wouldn’t even allow Amari Jones, a junior middleweight prospect he mentors, to answer when Jones was asked during a joint interview if Haney will beat Linares by knockout.

The typical pre-fight question is even more relevant as it relates to Haney-Linares because each of Linares’ five professional defeats have come by technical knockout.

The unbeaten Haney has drawn some criticism for not knocking out his past two opponents, Alfredo Santiago and Yuriorkis Gamboa, both of whom were big underdogs entering those 12-round voluntary title defenses for Haney. If he becomes the first opponent to defeat the 35-year-old Linares by decision, Haney inevitably will hear and read about it from unsatisfied fans and media.

The 22-year-old Haney predicted during the press conference at Mandalay Bay that he’ll put on “a very dominant performance.” The Oakland native just doesn’t think he needs to knock out the former three-division champion in a main event DAZN will stream from Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT).

“Why would I feel that?,” Haney told prior to the press conference. “He’s been stopped by good fighters. Cano is probably the only OK fighter that stopped him. He’s been stopped by great fighters, good fighters, so of course I don’t feel like I need to stop him. I think that I just need to go in there, put on a great performance, do what I do, and if the stoppage comes, it comes. You know, it’s hard to knock a guy out that doesn’t wanna be knocked out. And, you know, some guys go in there and they try to survive, like Gamboa. Or, you know, some guys come in there to win and they get knocked out. But we’ll just see.”

Linares’ most recent knockout defeat occurred in the first round of his 140-pound debut against Pablo Cesar Cano in January 2019. The Mexican veteran dropped Linares three times before their scheduled 12-rounder ended just two minutes and 48 seconds after it began.

That marked the third time Linares has been stopped early in a fight. Mexico’s Juan Carlos Salgado beat Linares by first-round TKO in October 2009 and Sergio Thompson defeated him by second-round TKO in March 2012.

In the bout before Thompson stopped him, Antonio DeMarco beat Linares by 11th-round TKO. Linares was way ahead of DeMarco on the scorecards before losing that fight (99-91, 98-92, 98-92).

Linares later lost to Vasiliy Lomachenko by 10th-round TKO in May 2018. The Tokyo resident was ahead of Lomachenko on one scorecard, 86-84, and even on another card, 85-85, when Lomachenko landed a body shot that abruptly ended their WBA lightweight title fight.

Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) still remains reluctant to predict he’ll become the sixth opponent who will stop Linares inside the distance.

“I don’t wanna make any predictions for a knockout because styles make fights,” Haney said, “and, you know, he’s at a point in his career where he has a lot of experience and, like Gamboa, some people, they just know how to survive.”

The smart, skillful Haney believes beating Linares impressively, even over 12 rounds, will be more than enough to prove that he is an elite lightweight. Haney has defended a version of the WBC’s lightweight title twice, yet he admits that, on paper, Linares clearly is his toughest opponent since he turned pro five years ago.

“It doesn’t matter,” Haney said. “If it goes 12 rounds and I’m able to showcase my full arsenal, then so be it. If it’s a knockout early, so be it. If it’s a late-fight knockout, it’s cool.”

Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) has cautioned that Haney should be concerned about getting knocked out himself in a fight he is regularly listed as at least a 12-1 favorite to win.

“He’s saying stuff that anybody can say,” Haney said. “Anybody can say, ‘Oh, well I have experience.’ OK, there’s people that get beat with experience every day. That’s how he became world champion the first time in his career. He can say, ‘Oh, if he makes a mistake, I’m gonna knock him out.’ Well, of course I would say the same thing. I mean, skills pay the bills. It’ll show on Saturday night.”

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