HOLLYWOOD, Fla.—The quest for Devin Haney to outperform his predecessors does not come with a time limit.
The 21-year young lightweight titlist doesn’t feel any pressure to get rid of Yuriorkis Gamboa any sooner than the pace of their bout will dictate. Las Vegas’ Haney (24-0, 15KOs) is well aware of the expectation to outdo what unbeaten boxing stars Terence Crawford and Gervonta Davis before him were able to accomplish against the Cuban export. It’s a goal expected to be met, though on his terms.
“I want to show that Gamboa won’t have any success with me whatsoever,” Haney told BoxingScene.com ahead of his second title defense. “He went in there and landed big shots with Crawford, he landed big shots with Tank.
“Against Devin Haney, I don’t want [Gamboa] to be able to have any type of success.”
Their bout headlines a seven-fight card this Saturday, live on DAZN from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Haney has been virtually untouchable on his rise toward the top of the lightweight queue, although lacking has been the signature win to confirm any claims of being among the best. With that came the selection of Gamboa (30-3, 18KOs), a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist and former featherweight titlist who enters as a considerable underdog but—even at 38—remains a threat to perhaps the best of the rest at lightweight.
Gamboa has spent most of the past seven years rotating between 130- and 135-pounds, his bigger moments coming at the higher weight even if in defeat. He had his say in an entertaining title challenge versus Crawford before succumbing in the 9th round of their June 2014 lightweight title fight.
More than five years later—and in his most recent performance—Gamboa fought through an Achilles tear to extend Baltimore’s Davis (24-0, 23KOs) to the 12th round last December. The occasion marked the first time the unbeaten southpaw knockout artist had been forced to go more than nine rounds, though closing the show in style as Gamboa was stopped with just 103 seconds to go in their secondary lightweight title fight.
To date, Haney has only lost a small handful of rounds through five years and 24 fights as a pro. He has won a variety of ways, which speaks to his overall skill set though now with the opportunity to prove it in a comparative type fight. With that comes any particular way he can win on Saturday evening, with the emphasis placed on doing so in spectacular fashion regardless of when that moment comes.
“Of course, a stoppage or knockout is the best way to win in boxing,” admits Haney, who is coming off of a 12-round win over unbeaten Alfredo Santiago last November. “It would be amazing if I knock Gamboa out, especially if it happens early.
“But I know Gamboa is a crafty opponent. He’s not going to go out easy. He’s going to fight to the finish. But of course I want to make a statement, whether it’s an early stoppage, a late stoppage or a 12-round beatdown.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox