Devin Haney credits Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko for fighting each other.
The unbeaten WBC world lightweight champion thinks their fight was good for the sport. Haney disagreed, however, with the promotion of Lopez-Lomachenko as a fight to crown boxing’s fully unified lightweight champion.
The 21-year-old Haney believes he is the legitimate WBC 135-pound champ, not Lopez. He hopes they can settle their championship dispute in the ring after he defends his belt against Yuriorkis Gamboa on November 7.
“I thought it was a good fight for boxing,” Haney told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t like that they were selling it as an undisputed fight, but they were doing what they had to do to sell the fight. But it was a good fight for boxing.”
Las Vegas’ Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) offered what he feels is a reasonable explanation for why Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) can’t claim he is the real WBC champion.
“It’s because he has a franchise title,” Haney said. “It’s not a belt. It’s called a franchise title, so how can you be undisputed when no one can even win the franchise title? You have to go petition to even get a chance to fight for a franchise title.
“You don’t hear fighters saying, ‘Oh, I wanna win a franchise title.’ People say, ‘I wanna become a world champion.’ No one says that they wanna win a franchise title.”
Lomachenko legitimately won the then-vacant WBC lightweight title when he out-pointed England’s Luke Campbell by unanimous decision in his previous appearance, a 12-rounder nearly 14 months ago at O2 Arena in London. Less than two weeks following Lomachenko’s defeat of Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs), Haney stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs) after four one-sided rounds to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
Haney was the mandatory challenger for Lomachenko’s crown, but the WBC named Lomachenko its franchise lightweight champion and elevated Haney from interim champ to world champ. When the WBC introduced its franchise designation in June 2019, the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization announced that franchise championships could not be won or lost in the ring.
Lomachenko never lost the WBC lightweight title, however, and was widely viewed as one of the top three boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport when Lopez upset him.
Lopez also defended his IBF belt and took the WBA “super” and WBO championships from Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), who lost for the first time in 6½ years.
Las Vegas’ Haney is a 20-1 favorite to beat Cuba’s Gamboa (30-3, 18 KOs). Assuming he wins in a 12-round main event DAZN will stream from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, Haney wants to face the 23-year-old Lopez next.
“I think it’ll be a huge fight,” Haney said. “That’s a fight that I would love. It would make, you know, all the sense in the world. And it would be for the actual undisputed championship in the lightweight division, all the belts. I would love to make it happen after Gamboa.”
Lopez previously expressed his desire to settle their WBC beef in the ring as well.
“If I took that fight, it’s just for bragging rights, just to shut him up and destroy his career,” Lopez said during a post-fight press conference after defeating Lomachenko on October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. “That’s really what it is. I don’t care. That’s the type of person I am. I’m not here to see another fighter build up his career. If he wants to take that step and fight, I’m more than happy to just take him out that route of what everybody’s talking about, saying [he is] the next Floyd Mayweather and stuff like that. Yeah, get outta here with that bullsh-t.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.