Now that Ryan Garcia has made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t want to fight Devin Haney next, Haney hopes to meet Teofimo Lopez for full supremacy in the lightweight division.
Unlike a Haney-Garcia fight, Haney-Lopez would be troublesome to negotiate due to their competing network and streaming service affiliations.
Las Vegas’ Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), who is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, is aligned with DAZN. Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which has an exclusive content agreement with ESPN.
That complication makes it unlikely that Lopez-Haney will happen next, which would lead Haney toward a far less appealing opponent for his third WBC world lightweight title defense.
“Of course, if Ryan’s not the guy, then I wanna go towards Teofimo,” Haney stated during a recent appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams Monday through Friday on DAZN and SiriusXM. “If Teofimo ducks me, he goes another direction, then I’m looking to fight Javier Fortuna or Jorge Linares.”
The Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs, 1 NC) is ranked second by the WBC at lightweight, behind only Vasiliy Lomachenko. Venezuela’s Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) is rated fifth by the WBC.
“To me, they’re the same caliber,” Haney said, “like the same type of caliber, same type of fight.”
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman revealed last month that Haney would need to make two mandatory defenses of his 135-pound championship – one against the Garcia-Luke Campbell winner and another versus Fortuna. Since Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs), who knocked out Campbell in the seventh round January 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, isn’t interested in challenging Haney next, Fortuna seemingly makes the most sense for Haney’s upcoming championship defense.
Opposing Lopez, however, would settle the dispute between Haney and Lopez as to who is the true WBC lightweight champ.
Lopez became the WBC’s franchise champ in the 135-pound division when he upset Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The WBC elevated Lomachenko from world lightweight champ to franchise champ after he out-pointed England’s Luke Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs) to win the then-vacant WBC world lightweight crown in August 2019 at O2 Arena in London.
Haney won the WBC interim lightweight title nearly two weeks after Lomachenko beat Campbell. He stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs) by technical knockout following four one-sided rounds at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
The WBC named Haney its world champion once Lomachenko was designated its franchise champ. Lopez also owns the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles.
“I got to the point to where I just say, ‘Well, why don’t we just make the fight happen, to where it won’t be no confusion?,’ ” Haney said of fighting Lopez. “If us two fight, I promise you after the fight it wouldn’t be no type of confusion. Everybody will know who the real undisputed king is, and it would be nothing else. And I understand that. Does Teofimo understand that?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.