Devin Haney and Joseph Diaz Jr. are once again locked in a war of words.
Given recent developments, fans can only hope the renewed social media beef evolves into an actual fight in the ring.
The pair of lightweights have expressed an interest in facing one another, particularly now that both are in need of opponents. Diaz was due to face Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18KOs), who withdrew from their planned November 27 interim WBC lightweight title fight after suffering significant bone and ligament damage to his right wrist which will require immediate surgery. News of the fallout quickly made the rounds, piquing the interest of Haney who is still in search of a challenger for a planned WBC lightweight title defense in December.
“Let’s make this fight happen Dec. 3rd,” Haney tweeted Friday, tagging Diaz on the post. Haney (26-0, 15KOs) also included promoter Eddie Hearn, with whom the unbeaten titlist continues to enjoy a working relationship and whose Matchroom Boxing outfit has a hold on that date at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Diaz—who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and managed by MTK Global—seems receptive to the fight, though longing for more than just another round of words on a screen.
“Contact MTK Global, let’s do it,” replied Diaz. “[A]ctually send the contract this time, bitch.”
Diaz (31-1-1, 15KOs) helped save the day the last time Garcia was scheduled to fight, filling in for the unbeaten lightweight in a July 9 interim title fight with Javier Fortuna. Garcia was due to face the Dominican southpaw, only to withdraw while citing a need to prioritize his mental health before resuming his career. Diaz willingly stepped in, outpointing Fortuna to win the vacant interim WBC lightweight title and becoming the mandatory challenger to the full title held by Haney.
Plenty of back and forth came in the buildup to the hoped-for fight, though with many in the industry suspecting that Diaz planned all along to face Garcia. The latter matchup received the blessing of the WBC, who stated that the winner would be required to next face Haney or else forfeit their place in line. Haney was afforded a voluntary title defense in the meantime, though has yet to secure an opponent and with none of the mentioned options particularly moving the needle.
It has been speculated that Golden Boy will look to salvage Garcia-Diaz, postponing the fight until the first quarter of 2022 if only to make Haney wait that much longer for a fight with either of the two. Such talks remain a rumor at this point, as the California-based outfit has yet to offer a contingency plan.
Diaz was looking at a third fight in 2021 with the planned showdown versus Garcia, a rate of activity that can still hold true should he face Haney during that time. The former IBF junior lightweight titlist began his year with a letdown, losing his title at the scale after missing weight for a planned February 13 title defense versus Shavkat Rakhimov. The fight proceeded as planned, with the belt only on the line for Rakihmov though remaining vacant after the two fought to a draw.
The aforementioned win over Fortuna breathed new life into Diaz’s career, not to mention positioning the 2012 U.S. Olympian for lucrative opportunities in a lightweight division bursting with talent but short on mixing and matching its top fighters. A shot at becoming a two-division titlist would seem like the perfect way to end the year, though Diaz doesn’t seem too concerned about what lies ahead in his immediate future.
“My team will provide me with the best fight possible for the fans,” stated Diaz, citing Golden Boy as a whole and its chairman Oscar de La Hoya, president Eric Gomez and executive matchmaker Robert Diaz along with MTK Global.
Whether versus Diaz or another foe, Haney will attempt the fourth defense of the lightweight title he claimed in 2019 and was reissued in 2020. In his most recent start, Haney withstood a late rally from former three-division titlist Jorge Linares to take a well-deserved twelve-round, unanimous decision win May 29 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in his Las Vegas hometown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox