With new lineal lightweight king George Kambosos scheduled to be watching from ringside, the first of three exciting lightweight clashes over the next two weekends will commence on Saturday night (DAZN, 8 PM EST). 

Devin Haney has been jerked around by sanctioning body silliness but with youth and talent on his side, his job is to keep winning. If he does so on Saturday, it will be with his second consecutive consensus top ten fighter at lightweight. Haney is right on schedule for the long run.

Joseph Diaz, a 2012 US Olympian, is still on schedule as well. Whether that schedule really belongs at lightweight will be more clear after this weekend. Diaz was a solid featherweight and Jr. lightweight, coming up short in a competitive bout with Gary Russell and ending a long winning streak for Tevin Farmer. Can he handle a naturally bigger, quicker talent in Haney?

It’s a real fight with the air of real future opportunity hanging in the air. 

Let’s get into it. 

Stats and Stakes

Devin Haney

Age: 23

Title: WBC lightweight* (2019-Present, 3 Defenses)

Previous Titles: None

Height: 5’8 

Weight: 135 lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: San Francisco, California

Record: 26-0, 15 KO

Press Rankings: #4 (TBRB, Ring, ESPN), #5 (BoxRec)

Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0 (4-0, 1 KO including interim title fights)

Last Five Opponents: 124-11 (.919)

Notable Outcomes, Ring/TBRB Rated Foes: Jorge Linares UD12 

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Juan Carlos Burgos UD10; Yuriorkis Gamboa UD12

*The WBC continues to send mixed signals about who they view as their primary champion in media but their official rankings list the franchise designation above Haney. The current WBC franchise champion at lightweight is George Kambosos; the last published rankings featured Teofimo Lopez. https://wbcboxing.com/mailing/2021/ratings_pdf/WBC_RATINGS_NOVEMBER_2021.pdf    

Vs.

Joseph Diaz

Age: 28

Title: None

Previous Titles: IBF Jr. Lightweight (2020-21)

Height: 5’6  

Weight: 134 ¼ lbs.

Stance: Southpaw

Hails from: Downey, California

Record: 32-1-1 (15 KO)

Press Rankings: #4 (BoxRec), #6 (Ring), #7 (ESPN), #9 (TBRB)

Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Title Opportunity

Last Five Opponents: 125-13-3 (.897)

Notable Outcomes, Ring/TBRB Rated Foes: Gary Russell Jr. L12; Jesus Rojas UD12; Tevin Farmer UD12; Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov D12; Javier Fortuna UD12

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Victor Terrazas KO3

The Pick: Seeing both men at the weigh-in on Friday, the size gap jumps out. Haney isn’t just naturally bigger on paper; Haney looks bigger nose to nose. Haney is also considerably longer in terms of arm length and may be more than the official two inches taller. Diaz will have to use his jab to get close, work the body, and force a fight that keeps the fight at closer quarters all night. Haney boxed beautifully for the first two thirds of the Linares fight, using his feet and reflexes to keep a step ahead. Linares rocked Haney late but Diaz may not pose the same threat so how does he win? For Diaz to win, he has to force exchanges, unsettle Haney, and make the younger man rush in spots to create openings. Diaz has shown he won’t be overwhelmed by speed and his maturity and experience can’t be discounted. That said, Haney looks like the real deal and he’s continuing to mature and improve. He will be better for the Linares experience and better than Diaz on Saturday night. The pick is Haney by decision.     

Rold Picks 2021: 42-13

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com