Eddie Hearn understands some of his detractors’ doubts about Devin Haney’s move up in weight because the British promoter considers Regis Prograis the hardest puncher in the 140-pound division.
In fact, from Hearn’s viewpoint, that encapsulates their fight for Prograis’ WBC super lightweight title – can Haney take Prograis’ power?
“You got Regis, you got Teofimo [Lopez],” Hearn told a group of reporters after a press conference recently in San Francisco. “You know, I know Tank fluctuates between the weights. But yeah, I would say Regis is the hardest puncher. And, you know, everyone likes to play back the Linares clip, where [Haney] got rocked at the end of the round. But this happens in boxing. But can he stand up to the firepower of Regis Prograis, if he’s getting hit flush? A lotta people think no, but you know, I guess his plan is to not get hit flush.”
Former three-division champion Jorge Linares hurt Haney just before the bell sounded to end the 10th round of their 12-round fight for Haney’s WBC lightweight title in May 2021. Haney recovered, however, by the time the 11th round began and continued to out-box Linares (47-8, 29 KOs) on his way to winning a unanimous decision at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) has knocked out 80 percent of his opponents since the New Orleans native made his pro debut in April 2012. Haney has knocked out only 50 percent of his professional foes (30-0, 15 KOs), and mostly at or near the lightweight limit of 135 pounds.
The Oakland native will make his debut as a full-fledged 140-pounder when he opposes Prograis on December 9 at Chase Center in San Francisco. Haney, 24, feels completely comfortable with the move because it had become so draining physically for the undefeated, undisputed lightweight champion to get down to 135 pounds.
Despite the fact that the 34-year-old Prograis has fought at or near the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds throughout his career, handicappers have installed Haney as a 4-1 favorite in advance of their DAZN Pay-Per-View main event.
“How is Devin gonna perform at 140?,” Hearn said. “You know, two arguments might be he’ll be really good and strong because he’s been struggling at ’35. And the other one might be he might not be big or strong enough, and maybe his [best] asset at 135 was his size. I just think it’s a great fight. You know, I respect Devin because he could’ve had an easier route. But I think this was a master play by him and [father/trainer] Bill [Haney] if they pull it off, to move up and to get a belt at 140 after everything they did at 135.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.