Devin Haney faces critical test vs. veteran Jorge Linares

LAS VEGAS — There’s never ever a concern about whether Devin Haney had the physical tools to be the very best fighter on the planet. Essentially every active fighter on the planet would offer practically anything to have his skillset.

Haney holds a variation of the WBC light-weight belt — so, too, does Teofimo Lopez, however that’s boxing and it’s made complex — and will protect it on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, DAZN) at Mandalay Bay versus experienced Jorge Linares.

Though Haney is a massive -1200 preferred at BetMGM, the battle with Linares represents a crucial action in Haney’s advancement. Linares is a previous world champ who is without a doubt the most competitive challenger Haney has actually dealt with in his profession.

Now, much like Yuriorkis Gamboa, whom Haney beat last time out, Linares is long in the tooth. He was dropped in Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2018 and after that once again 8 months later on when he was dropped 3 times in the preliminary by Pablo Cesar Cano.

He’s not precisely the hardest obstacle that Haney might have dealt with, however prepares to make a battle with Ryan Garcia failed. Garcia stated he had psychological health problems and is taking a break from boxing, so that left Haney and promoter Eddie Hearn browsing.

“We’ve been really searching hard for the right guy,” Hearn informed Yahoo Sports. “I believe Devin Haney is the best lightweight in the world. A lot of the other lightweights have been stepping up, and Devin’s been trying to step up but no one wants to fight him. Don’t forget, he chased Vasiliy Lomachenko. When they made [Lomachenko] franchise champion and they made Devin world champion after he won the final eliminator, he didn’t ask for that.

“He wanted Vasiliy Lomachenko. Then he wanted Teofimo Lopez. Then he wanted Ryan Garcia. So I was under massive pressure to deliver a powerful fight.”

Lopez, naturally, rejected that. He stated he desired Haney however never ever got a deal.

“One thing I’d like to clear up, the other guys in my division had four months to send me a contract and not one did,” Lopez stated.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Devin Haney trains during the Devin Haney Media Workout at Rathbone Boxing Club on September 27, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

Devin Haney trains at Rathbone Boxing Club on Sept. 27, 2019 in London, England. (Picture by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

So no matter how it exercised, Haney’s finest choice is a 35-year-old whose finest days are plainly behind him. It doesn’t suggest Linares is a walkover or that he can’t win.

It’s simply that the chances, and the oddsmakers, recommend this ought to be another frustrating Haney triumph. Though he’s just 22, he’s currently discovered not to listen to the critics or voices beyond his circle. He insists the long odds in his favor haven’t turned him complacent in the least.

“I don’t really pay attention to the bookies like that because sometimes they’re wrong,” Haney said of the odds favoring him. “A lot of the times, they are right, though. But at the end of the day, he is my biggest test on paper. He’s been in there with the best of them. He’s beaten the best of them. I was 4 years old when he turned pro, I think. He has a lot of experience.

“One thing he’s banking on, though, is that experience. He keeps saying he has experience, he has experience, he has experience. If experience played such a role, there would be no new champions in boxing. Boxing would never have evolved.”

Haney’s physical tools — hand and foot speed, quickness, strength — are far beyond Linares. But Linares has the one thing that can often neutralize a speedier, quicker opponent and that’s a great jab and punching accuracy.

But Haney doesn’t buy the notion that Linares’ jab is better than his. Rather than Linares slowing him down with the jab, he believes he’ll neutralize Linares beginning with his own jab.

“I feel I have one of the best jabs in boxing,” Haney said. “Linares has speed, of course, but I feel like I’m faster. But we’ve just got to see. You just never know until you get in there.”

That’s the experience of Haney talking. He’s young and he’s just got 25 pro fights, but he’s discovered enough in his brief profession to comprehend not to take anything for approved.

There have actually been lots of fast-handed prodigies who have actually occurred; few of them developed into the well-rounded super star their skills recommended they could.

Haney is figured out to be among them who does. And offer him credit: He’s doing it the proper way.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.