HOLLYWOOD, Fla.—Devin Haney’s next ring appearance couldn’t come at a better time.
The unbeaten lightweight titlist returns after a 52-week absence, in part due to recovery from a shoulder injury with the rest compromised due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, Haney (24-0, 15KOs) hasn’t missed out on much, and in fact with this weekend’s title defense versus Miami’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-3, 18KOs) comes at a time when all of his top divisional peers have either just fought or are prepared to make their way to the ring in the near future.
“What a division, the lightweight division,” Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing noted to BoxingScene.com and other reporters during a recent virtual media roundtable. “I think for years, the 147-pound division has been the starlight division in boxing. For me, we have the heavyweight division which is on fire, and now this lightweight division is just fantastic.
“Teofimo Lopez, stunning knockout from [unbeaten two-division titlist Gervonta] Tank Davis last week. You have to give a shoutout to him… that’s the kind of performance or knockout or moment you need in order to become a star. Tank Davis is up there with Teofimo Lopez, of course. Devin Haney and the winner of Luke Campbell against Ryan Garcia—they are the… four-board of the lightweight division. They must fight everyone.”
Haney’s bout with Gamboa—a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist for Cuba and former featherweight titlist—headlines on DAZN this Saturday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. It comes one week after Baltimore’s Davis (25-0, 24KOs) took a major leap on the path to superstardom following an emphatic 6th round knockout of Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19KOs) atop their October 31 Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner in San Antonio, Texas.
Two weeks prior, Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) emerged as the class of the lightweight division, unifying three belts and nabbing the lineal lightweight championship following a competitive but clear 12-round win over Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs).
Four weeks after Haney’s second attempted title defense versus Gamboa could come his next challenge. Victorville, California’s Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17KOs) faces England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) on a December 5 DAZN show in Indio, California, with the winner claiming an interim version of the title currently held by Las Vegas’ Haney.
“This is a very important fight for [Haney],” insists Hearn. “For me, this leads to the winner of Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia for early 2021. They’re both DAZN fighters.
“It’s just a huge, huge fight. It’s a very, very important fight for Devin Haney on Saturday night.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox