Devin Haney tentatively is scheduled to return to the ring April 3.
The unbeaten WBC world lightweight champion would prefer to fight rival Ryan Garcia. It is highly unlikely that Haney-Garcia will happen next, though, despite that Garcia won the WBC interim 135-pound championship by knocking out Luke Campbell in the seventh round of his last fight, January 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
It is much more likely, apparently, that Garcia will fight Javier Fortuna, who once was expected to challenge Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) for his title next.
If a Garcia-Fortuna fight is scheduled for later in April, Haney’s promoter wants him to face an opponent once targeted by Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs). Eddie Hearn revealed during his most recent weekly appearance on “The Ak & Barak Show” that he’d like to schedule a Haney-Jorge Linares fight if Garcia indeed faces Fortuna.
The Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs, 2 NC) is ranked second among the WBC’s lightweight contenders, one spot atop the third-rated Linares (47-5, 29 KOs).
“For Devin, the plan is still to get out in April,” Hearn told co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes during a show that streams weekdays on DAZN and SiriusXM. “You know, if Ryan Garcia won’t fight him, the next guy in line is Javier Fortuna. I’m hearing rumors that maybe Ryan Garcia might fight Javier Fortuna. If that’s the case, I’d love the Jorge Linares fight for Devin Haney, quite frankly. I think that’s a really good fight. You know, I think if we can’t get one of the other champions or Ryan Garcia, Linares is like the next credible guy. You know, I don’t think there’s anyone that could be disappointed with Haney against Linares. I think it’s by far the biggest test of his career so far.”
Venezuela’s Linares is a former WBA/WBC lightweight champ who is considered a fantastic offensive fighter. The 35-year-old Linares’ obvious flaw is that he has been knocked out five times, including a first-round, technical-knockout loss to Mexico’s Pablo Cesar Cano (33-7-1, 23 KOs, 1 NC) in a 140-pound fight two years ago at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
Linares is 2-0 since Cano dropped him three times and stopped him.
“He’s live, he’s ambitious, he’s dangerous, he’s credible, he’s proven,” Hearn said of Linares. “And that’s the kind of fight Devin needs next, because, you know, we all know – you know, you guys, us, people in boxing – we know Devin Haney is a phenomenal talent. But you still have to prove it through your resume. And I feel that, you know, he wants Ryan Garcia so bad, he wants Teofimo Lopez, he wants Tank [Davis.] But outside of those guys, you know, Fortuna as well, you know, but Linares is one that I really like. And, you know, I’ve had Linares over three times to the UK, and I’ve never been able to beat him. So, I believe I’ve finally got a fighter that can beat Jorge Linares. But we will see.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.