Devin Haney will have to fight his way back to undisputed lightweight championship status.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBC split its votes regarding Haney’s request to both retain his lightweight title status and challenge for the sanctioning body’s 140-pound title. Haney was granted permission to pursue a fight versus WBC junior welterweight titlist, but will have to settle for WBC lightweight ‘Champion in Recess’ status to go that route.
“WBC Lightweight Champion Devin Haney petitioned to fight WBC Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis,” the sanctioning body’s Board of Governors noted in a ruling obtained by Boxing Scene. “Champion Haney wished to remain as WBC World Lightweight Champion until after his fight with Champion Prograis takes place, at which point he would decide in what division he would remain.
“The WBC Mandatory Challenger in the Lightweight Division is Shakur Stevenson. The WBC Board of Governors voted in favor of granting Champion Haney’s petition to fight Champion Prograis for the WBC Super Lightweight World Championship; placing Champion Haney as Champion-in-Recess in the Lightweight Division (and) ordering a bout between Lightweight Mandatory Challenger Shakur Stevenson and the highest available contender in that division.”
The ruling less than a month after Haney and Stevenson both contacted the WBC with their separate requests regarding its lightweight title.
Haney (30-0, 15KOs) hoped to enter his still-in-talks pursuit of Progais (29-1, 24KOs) as the undisputed champion and then decide after the fight at which weight he would choose to next fight. As previously reported by Boxing Scene, the petition was filed at the end of July 27 following a six-day extension granted by the WBC.
Stevenson (20-0, 10KOs) previously contacted the WBC to have his mandatory challenger title status enforced, in a bid to become a three-division titlist by his next fight. The push was to either have the Haney fight ordered, or allow the 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and former 126- and 130-pound champ to challenge for the vacant title.
The latter will now take place, with Stevenson to face the next highest ranked available contender. Former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko is number-two, while unbeaten Frank Martin is fresh off a twelve-round win over Artem Harutyunyan in their July 15 WBC lightweight semifinal title eliminator.
Stevenson and Lomachenko are both promoted by Top Rank. Martin fights for Errol Spence’s Man Down Promotions and under the Premier Boxing Champons banner.
Haney is a promotional free agent after having completed a three-fight co-promotional deal with Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment. Under the lucrative agreement, the 24-year-young Haney fully unified all the lightweight titles and defended them in back-to-back wins over George Kambosos in Melbourne, Australia. He retained the titles in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Lomachenko (17-3, 11KOs) on May 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Next up is a likely showdown versus Prograis, who will attempt the second defense of his second title reign once they are able to finalize terms. Boxing Scene has learned that an early-to-mid November date is in play for the terrific title fight.
Haney will then have a decision to make after the targeted fight. More so, the option to return to lightweight would then subject him to a potential even split with the reigning WBC lightweight titlist at that time.
“After fighting Champion Prograis, allowing Champion Haney to choose between remaining at 135 or 140 pounds on a timetable that the WBC would order,” noted the WBC ruling. “If Champion Haney decides to return to the Lightweight Division within that timetable, the WBC would order the fight between Champion Haney and the then World Champion on a 50-50 [purse split].”
Stevenson became the mandatory challenger after a sixth-round knockout of unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino on April 8 in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey. He previously held the WBO featherweight title and lineal/WBC/WBO junior lightweight championship.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox