The sense from the moment a title fight was ordered between Devin Haney and Javier Fortuna was that it was destined to head to a purse bid.
It turns out that won’t be the case, though not at all good news for the defending titlist.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Javier Fortuna will fight for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title as reigning beltholder Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) is unable to follow through with a sanctioning body-mandated title defense. As first reported by BoxingScene.com, the bout was ordered in mid-November, with an assigned purse bid date of December 13 in the event the two sides could not come to terms.
Haney is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA (along with his own Devin Haney Promotions brand), while Fortuna is represented by Sampson Lewkowicz’s Sampson Boxing and who also fights under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner.
Dominican Republic’s Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs) will remain in the title hunt, though not versus recently crowned Haney, who is recovering from surgery after suffering a shoulder injury in his 12-round shutout of Alfredo Santiago last month in Los Angeles, California.
Fortuna will likely face England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs), a two-time title challenger also promoted by Hearn. Fortuna and Campbell are the highest rated challengers in the WBC lightweight rankings, with the fight already ordered and—once finalized—to be contested for the vacant title.
"Haney has undergone surgery," Mauricio Sulaiman, president of WBC told BoxingScene.com. "He will be placed in Champion in Recess. Fortuna will fight Luke Campbell for the WBC title,."
The designation of WBC “Champion in Recess” serves as a placeholder for any exiting champion to immediately fight for the title upon recovery and ring return. As such, Haney has that option should he choose to remain at lightweight once fully healed.
For now, his reign is left at one-and-done, having claimed the interim belt in a one-sided 4th round stoppage of previously unbeaten Zaur Abdullaev this past September in New York City. The unbeaten 21-year old was upgraded to full titlist during the annual WBC convention this past October, upon designation of unified titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko being named the sanctioning body’s “Franchise” champion.
Fortuna—a former two-division titlist—became the top rated WBC lightweight contender following a two-round wipeout of former featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar this past November.
Campbell has not fought since a spirited by decisive points loss to Lomachenko in their three-belt lightweight clash this past August in London, England. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist came up just short in his previous title bid, a narrow 12-round defeat to Jorge Linares in their entertaining Sept. 2017 title fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com, Twitter: @JakeNDaBox