Devin Haney returned to action with a dominant defense of his WBC World Lightweight title against Yuriorkis Gamboa at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida, live on DAZN.
Haney (25-0 14 KOs) put his crown on the line for a second time, two days shy of one year out of the ring having injured his shoulder in his first defense against Alfredo Santiago in Los Angeles last November.
Haney soon got his spear-like jab upstairs and downstairs, Haney warmed into his first fight for a year in the opening six minutes and began to express his full arsenal in the third round, where Gamboa (30-4 18 KOs) also showed some frustration in hitting Haney after the break.
Gamboa began to shows signs of ambition in the middle rounds but WBC king Haney soon extinguished them, and the former unified Featherweight champion reverted back to trying to keep the Las Vegas starlet at bay, and his survival tactics met the wrath of the referee in the penultimate round where a point was taken from the challenger.
Haney showed no ill-effects of the shoulder injury or year lay-off as he came out firing on the final session, and while he was unable to put the cherry on top of a good night’s work by getting Gamboa out of there, the judges saw the action 118-109 and 120-107 twice as ‘The Dream’ got 12 vital rounds under his belt ahead of what promises to be a stellar 2021 for the 135lb division.
“I’m pleased with the performance because I didn’t take any punishment,” said Haney. “I came out of there looking like I did when I went in, I was ready to fight again if I had to.
“I knew that he would go into survival mode and he was successful with that, he was in there trying to survive as much as he did. I pitched a shut-out and I didn’t get hit with any big shots, it is what it is.
“Of course I wanted the KO but every fight can’t end like that. Gamboa is a crafty opponent, he showed that he can survive, he showed why he has been in the game for a long time. Anyone that has knocked him out has taken punishment while doing it, I didn’t take any punishment and maybe that’s why I didn’t get the KO.
“I beat him the smartest. The jab, the reach, the speed and the ring IQ were the keys to victory. I showed that I am able to go 12 rounds, to hit and not get hit, you can talk about landing big shots but Gamboa didn’t land anything.
“There’s always going to be pressure, every fight is going to have everyone watching and critiquing what you do, I understand that. I am ready to put on a big 2021 and fight best and put on a statement to show the world that I am the best."