DALLAS—There isn’t much left for Devin Haney to do other than put his title up for grabs and accept the best challenge to come his way.
The unbeaten 22-year old remains on the hunt for a planned April ring return, despite having two assigned mandatory contenders. Plans call for the WBC to order a title consolidation fight between Haney (25-0, 15KOs)—the sanctioning body’s World lightweight champion—and recently crowned interim titlist Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs).
Given the headlines both before and especially after Garcia's off-the-canvas 7th round knockout of Luke Campbell on Jan. 2, it appears that the Californian’s attention is affixed on other opportunities. Should he pass on the soon-to-be-ordered title fight, that would leave Las Vegas’ Haney to consider either the next mandatory in waiting—Dominican Republic’s Javier Fortuna (36-2-1, 25KOs)—or somehow forced an undisputed championship showdown with WBA/IBF/WBO and lineal champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs).
“Javier Fortuna is my second mandatory. Ryan Garcia is the first choice for me. If we can’t get him, we’ll go next in line,” Haney told BoxingScene.com from ringside after Garcia's latest win at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. “Whether it’s Teofimo for all of the belts or Javier Fortuna to satisfy my mandatory, if Ryan Garcia don’t want it we’re just going to keep moving down the line.
“If Fortuna doesn’t take the fight, we’ll keep looking for the best opponent to face. But I won’t let anyone slow down what I have in store for 2021.”
Naturally, the sport would welcome any time that all of the belts can be made available in a single fight. However, Lopez has just been ordered by the IBF to enter negotiations versus top-rated contender George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10KOs). With limited wiggle room to even request an optional fight, it would leave Haney hoping that either Garcia or Fortuna accepts an invitation to fight for the WBC title and with the fight to take place within his desired timeframe.
Haney settled for just one fight in 2020, a 12-round virtual shutout of Miami’s Yuriorkis Gamboa last November. The idea is to remain active in 2021, or at the very least get in two fights of the highest quality—and at least one where he leaves no doubt as to who is the best lightweight in the world.
“I want all the belts,” Haney insists. “I’m very determined. That’s my main focus, to get all these belts by the end of 2021 no matter who I have to beat to get them.
“The goal I set for myself is to be the undisputed champion in 2021. I’m ready to fight anyone to make that happen.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox