Make that six in a row.

On Saturday, the recently undisputed and still lineal lightweight champion arrived in his new weight class, winning his sixth straight against someone listed top ten or champion in their division as ranked by TBRB and/or The Ring. In dismantling WBC 140 pound titlist Regis Prograis, Haney turned in arguably the best performance of his professional career.

This was a fight Haney was favored to win but one that was promoted well on the promise of potential drama. The drama was gone early. Haney took over the fight in the second, dropped Prograis in the third, and never let Prograis get anywhere near endangering him.

It was a mature performance, measured and exact, with Haney establishing his jab, maintaining his preferred spacing, and occasionally mixing in a wicked uppercut. Prograis had no answers, landing a Compubox-reported average of just three punches a round. Haney rattled Prograis a few more times after the knockdown but never let his youth get the better of him, choosing victory over room for error. 

It was as close to flawless as a boxing performance gets. 

Haney looked healthier and stronger at junior welterweight, meaning his claim to history’s lightweight title is a thing of the past.

What does that mean for what’s ahead?

Futures: Haney has stated he’s open to moving straight to welterweight, and he might, but there’s a lot of money on the table at junior welterweight. Even if Tank Davis weren’t willing to come up in weight to challenge him (and it seems unlikely Haney is agreeing to a catchweight between their two present classes), Ryan Garcia and Teofimo Lopez are right there. 

Lopez is the lineal champion of the class and would give Haney a chance to add a second historical crown. Garcia would be seen as winnable and profitable, a healthy combination. In a division that also calls Subriel Matias and Gary Antuanne Russell home, the possibilities are strong all the way around. 

After Saturday, building on the experience of his hotly contested battle with Vasyl Loamchenko, we can feel safe that we’re seeing a young fighter entering the heart of his prime. Haney will be a factor for a while.

Another fighter on Saturday became a factor overnight in a late addition to the Fight of the Year race.

Espinoza Shocks Ramirez

Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez stumbled out of the gate losing his professional debut, but that seemed all behind him heading into the weekend. Speculation was strong that he was a win or two away from being the guy who got the call if and when Naoya Inoue moved from junior featherweight to featherweight. 

As he wept after the fight Saturday night, Ramirez had to know his WBO title wasn’t all he lost in a brutal affair with the 6’1 Rafael Espinoza. Seven figures slipped away and, at featherweight, those kinds of dollars are hard to come by. 

Espinoza built an early lead as Ramirez struggled to attack a man seven inches taller. He almost figured it out. If the right hand Ramirez dropped Espinoza with in round five lands just thirty seconds earlier, maybe it all turns out different. Espinoza was all but out on his feet and woud have been hard pressed to survive. 

The bell rang. He survived. Espinoza also weathered as Ramirez pressed the advantage in the next couple rounds. That Espinoza refused to fold was a credit to his guts. That he began to turn the tide again in the second half of the eighth round spoke to him being a force no one knew about yet. 

Espinoza had a case for sweeping rounds 9-11, tripling and quadrupling the output of Ramirez and outlanding him in all three frames. Still, Ramirez would land harder and the memory of the fifth kept the whole affair high drama. Then came the final round, Espinoza unleashing 121 punches and drowning Ramirez in leather. A knockdown in the final minute saw an exhausted Ramirez just beat the count and make it to the final bell. 

It was a hell of a fight.

It was Espinoza’s night.

Futures: If Inoue winds up at featherweight, anyone who wouldn’t find a showdown with Espinoza fascinating should think twice. Inoue’s body attack, speed, and explosiveness might blow right through an eight-inch disadvantage in height. If it didn’t, how would Inoue handle such a wild disparity combined with an output in the 100’s? 

If that isn’t a possibility right now for Espinoza, one can assume a Ramirez rematch might be. The first fight was great and Ramirez would have a lot of tape to study and still has a wealth of skill and experience to draw on. 

For anyone who missed this scrap, go out of your way to see it. It was good enough to see twice.

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