Devin Haney requested another 24 hours to consider a path to challenge for the WBO junior welterweight title.
The sanctioning body is not having it.
An immediate ruling was handed down by the WBO, who declared that the undisputed lightweight king remains bound to the same ruling applied to the three other parties involved in the 140-pound title picture—Arnold Barboza, Jose Ramirez and Teofimo Lopez. Haney contacted the WBO shortly after the sanctioning body announced plans to move forward with its 140-pound title.
“I refer to your email communication dated Tuesday, July 11, 2023, in response to our “Resolution” pertaining to the provisions concerning Team Haney and whether he will move up to the Jr. Welterweight Division to face Arnold Barboza, Jr,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas informed John Hornewer, Haney’s attorney, in an official ruling obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Team Haney is requesting that the 24-hour period given be triggered after the decision is made by Teofimo Lopez regarding his WBO Jr. Welterweight Championship.
“Wherefore, having considered the arguments provided by Team Haney, this Committee is denying the request and consequently, enforcing the conditions set forth by this Committee in its Resolution.”
Barboza (28-0, 10KOs) and Ramirez (28-1, 18KOs) have been ordered to enter negotiations for a fight that could come with the vacant belt at stake, though there are stipulations which could impact that status.
One factor is whether Lopez (19-1, 13KOs) plans to retract his previous claim to relinquish the title and retire from the sport. Lopez became a two-division lineal champion after a June 10 decision win over Scotland’s Josh Taylor at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City. The Brooklyn native and 2016 Honduran Olympian contacted WBO president Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel five days later via text to inform of his plans to relinquish the title and retire from the sport.
The WBO preferred something more official and documented, which prompted the call-to-order on Tuesday. Lopez was granted the same 24-hour period to confirm or refute that claim as was Haney to determine his plans to move up in weight and enforce his “Super” champion status to challenge for the WBO 140-pound title.
From the Haney side, they prefer a more linear approach than for their timeline to run parallel with Lopez. The logic fits, as a Lopez-Haney fight is by far the highest-profile and most lucrative match out of any combination among the four involved boxers.
That point is understood but the sanctioning body’s perspective is that too much time has already elapsed.
“Our ruling stands and Team Haney must confirm their decision in writing no later than today, July 12, 2023, at 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Time),” noted Batista-Salas. “Failure to comply with these conditions will result in this Committee proceeding accordingly and with the understanding that Haney will stay in the Lightweight Division.”
Additionally, the WBO will treat a no-response from Lopez as confirmation that he has, in fact, severed ties with the title. That ruling will then confirm a Barboza-Ramirez bout as for the vacant WBO title at stake; both parties and their shared manager, Rick Mirigian have confirmed their intention to move forward with a fight under such circumstances.
Haney (30-0, 15KOs) is currently a promotional free agent and is coming off a twelve-round decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko this past May 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was widely speculated that Haney would move up in weight, and an offer from WBC 140-pound titlist Regis Prograis (29-1, 24KOs) is among those currently under consideration for the unbeaten 24-year-old star.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox