Devin Haney didn’t expect to have to wait one more fight for his first major title shot when he first signed with DAZN and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA.
Then again, he also didn’t expect his upcoming clash with Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs) to wind up as an interim title fight.
“It’s all about timing,” Haney (22-0, 14KOs) told BoxingScene.com in allowing the chips to fall into place.
Friday’s battle between unbeaten lightweights—which streams live on DAZN from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City—was originally slated as a final title eliminator, with the winner to be named mandatory challenger to unified lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko.
The designation came as a consolation prize to Las Vegas’ Haney being passed over for the Ukrainian southpaw to bid for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title versus England’s Luke Campbell. Lomachenko (14-1, 10KOs) claimed a 12-round division to unify three of the four major lightweight titles, and now setting his sights on the winner of the Dec. 14 clash between International Boxing Federation (IBF) titlist Richard Commey and unbeaten mandatory challenger Teofimo Lopez.
Whomever prevails in Friday’s headliner will be in a good position to either disrupt that process, or simply about their way with their own title in tow. A ruling by the WBC upgraded the bout to an interim title fight.
“Being able to fight for an interim world title means everything,” claims Haney, gleefully settling for the next best thing. “This not only makes me the WBC mandatory for Vasiliy Lomachenko, but I'm able to (make) interim title defenses until Loma is ready to fight.”
As it stands, his missing out on a vacant title fight already puts him in position—with a win on Friday—to fight for three belts for the price of one. Should the winner allow Lomachenko to first pursue divisional immortality, there will be even more at stake by the time the call to order comes for the due title shot.
“Everything is falling right into place,” Haney believes. “When I win all those belts at once, it’s going to look like we planned the whole thing.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox