Devin Haney’s promoter considers Jorge Linares just the type of opponent the young champion needs to beat impressively to prove himself as an elite lightweight.
In fact, Eddie Hearn thinks Haney will establish himself as boxing’s best lightweight if he handles Linares the way Hearn expects. Teofimo Lopez obviously would beg to differ, but Linares clearly is the best opponent Haney has been scheduled to face since he turned pro five years ago.
The Haney-Linares fight officially was announced Wednesday afternoon for May 29 in Las Vegas. Their 12-round, 135-pound fight for Haney’s WBC world lightweight title will be streamed by DAZN worldwide as a main event from Michelob ULTRA Arena, the venue formerly known as Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“This the breakout fight that will show the world that Devin Haney is the best lightweight on the planet,” Hearn said in Matchroom Boxing’s press release to announce the Haney-Linares bout. “Jorge Linares is a tremendous fighter, a three-weight king that has speed, power and plenty of experience.
“I’ve represented four fighters who’ve attempted to beat Jorge and failed, but this time I believe we have the future king of the division in Devin, and this is his moment. May 29, the bright lights of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, this is the moment.”
The 35-year-old Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) has lost by technical knockout five times in his 18-year pro career. Oscar De La Hoya, the Venezuelan veteran’s co-promoter, cautioned, however, that Linares represents an imposing step up in class for the 22-year-old Haney (25-0, 15 KOs).
“We have worked with Jorge Linares for a long time,” De La Hoya said, “and anytime the so-called experts count him out, he comes back with a vengeance. Haney has never confronted anyone even close to Jorge’s skill level, and at 135 he is still a force to be reckoned with for anyone in the division.”
Las Vegas’ Haney has defeated Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (12-1, 8 KOs), the Dominican Republic’s Alfredo Santiago (13-1, 5 KOs) and Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-4, 18 KOs) in his three lightweight championship matches.
Gamboa has won world titles in three divisions, but he was 38 when Haney convincingly defeated him by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder November 7 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Linares, a former champion in the featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight divisions, will end a 15-month layoff when he challenges Haney. He knocked out Mexican veteran Carlos Morales (19-5-4, 8 KOs) in the fourth round of his most recent fight, which took place in February 2020 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.