LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney will box a three-weight world champion in a second straight fight Saturday night.
That’s about all, according to Jorge Linares, that he and Yuriorkis Gamboa have in common at this stage of their lengthy careers. The 35-year-old Linares is four years younger than Gamboa and the former WBA/WBC lightweight champion is certain that he is a much fresher fighter than the Cuban-born boxer Haney defeated by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder November 7.
“To be honest, this is a huge step up for him,” Linares told BoxingScene.com regarding his fight against Haney. “I don’t see Gamboa anymore, at this stage, to be a big step up. It’s different because Gamboa pretty much is at the end of his career. And yet, he complicated things for Haney. Now, you add experience and, with me, I’m still a fighter that feels very good. You can’t even compare a Gamboa with me. I still have a lot left.”
Las Vegas’ Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) beat Gamboa by huge margins on all three scorecards six months ago at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Judges Michael Tate (120-107) and Michael Ross (120-107) scored all 12 rounds for Haney, who won 10 rounds on the scorecard of judge Fernando Barbosa (118-109). Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs) had a point deducted during the 11th round by referee Telis Assimenios for excessive holding.
Despite Haney’s wide win on the scorecards, Linares noticed that the smaller, older fighter made Haney uncomfortable at times during their fight for Haney’s WBC world lightweight title.
“Haney doesn’t like to get backed up, doesn’t like to get pressured, doesn’t like you to cut off the ring,” Linares said. “And he’s not gonna like getting hit. Gamboa pressured him and Gamboa has the experience. And he didn’t like that. Now, guess what? I have the experience, I have much better legs than Gamboa, much better conditioning than I had five years ago, and I’m gonna be hitting him.”
Linares, a Tokyo resident raised in Venezuela, is a diverse offensive fighter. The 22-year-old Haney is consistently listed as at least a 12-1 favorite, however, in part because Linares has been beaten by knockout or technical knockout five times during his 18-year pro career.
Their fight for Haney’s WBC belt will headline DAZN’s stream from Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena. The streaming service’s undercard coverage is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. EDT and 5 p.m. PDT.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.