Devin Haney retained his WBC world lightweight title in a thrilling fight with Jorge Linares at the Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

Haney (26-0 15 KOs) sparkled from the start with his trademark skills, speed and elusiveness seeing the champion start strongly over former three-weight world champion, with bodywork smartly invested and uppercuts accurate and flashy.

Haney had to show he has a chin to accompany the ability, with Linares (47-6 29 KOs) always dangerous and in the fight, showing flashes of lethal intent that Haney absorbed and evade – until a dramatic ending in the tenth.

Linares delivered a three-punch combination that wobbled Haney right on the bell of the tenth round, that saw a staggering Haney unsteady on his way back to his corner. Haney stayed away from the Venezuelan in the final two sessions as the 35 year old went in for the kill, and the judges gave the champion the nod on the cards 116-112, 116-112 and 115-113.

“The fans want to see that,” said Haney. “They want to see if I can go in there and walk my opponent down. Hit him with big shots. I showed I can do it all, I can box, I can bang, I can take a shot and face adversity and get the job done.

“It was a good shot, but I wasn’t hurt, sometimes when you get hit by a good shot, you have to be smart, continue the game plan, and I did that and got the win.

“I knew he was going to come here and give it everything, it was a huge opportunity for him, he would be willing to get knocked out to go for the win, take my biggest shots to get this title.

“I just kept smart, used the jabs, feinted and landed shots in the 12th round. You are going to get hit with big shots in boxing. I didn’t get dropped; I didn’t get hurt. You see fighters get dropped and get up from big shots and people praise them, I didn’t get dropped, I stayed on my feet, kept throwing shots and closed it out.