Devin Haney shuts out difficult Alfredo Santiago, retains WBC lightweight title
LOS ANGELES – Devin Haney made the first defense of his WBC lightweight title on the undercard of the KSI-Logan Paul rematch on Saturday at Staples Center, but the lopsided unanimous decision over unbeaten but unheralded Alfredo Santiago did not come easy.
Santiago, a tall, rangy and awkward switch hitter from Puerto Rico (by way of the Dominican Republic), was a stylistic nightmare for Haney, who was repeatedly nailed with right hands and resorted to more roughhouse tactics and fouls (borderline low blows, rabbit punches) than fans are used to seeing from the 20-year-old phenom, one of the most celebrated young talents in boxing.
“I feel like I could have done better, but I fought with a bad right arm, my shoulder feels like it was dislocated during the fight, but I showed that I’m a true champion and that I can adjust against a fighter that I took on short notice,” said Haney, who was referring to the WBC not clearing Santiago as a title challenger until last week. (Petr Petrov was originally targeted, but the rugged Russian veteran was rejected by the sanctioning organization.)
“[Santiago] was very crafty.”
Indeed. It took a few rounds for Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) to get his jab going, and after adding some choice body shots and counter right hands to his menu, it looked like he might have an early night when he scored a knockdown in Round 5. However, Santiago (12-1, 4 KOs) rebounded well in Round 6, landing right hands from long range and timing Haney with hooks as the huge favorite came in close.
Santiago, who proved to be a very competent boxer, complained about the rough stuff down the stretch but did not allow Haney to take his spirit or confidence. Haney, to his credit, was the aggressor throughout the fight and never allowed the difficulty of Santiago or the fight (or the boos from the crowd of YouTuber teeny boppers) to take him out of his game plan.
However, he’s still learning. Lesson #1: Styles make fights (or DON’T make fights) and tall, awkward guys are almost impossible to look good against. Lesson #2: Maybe don’t be in such a rush to fight Ring champ Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Fellow lightweight standout Ryan Garcia, who attended the fight card, was brought up during Haney’s post-fight interview with DAZN’s Chris Mannix.
“I think that’s a big fight that I think we can make in 2020 or 2021,” Haney told Mannix.
That’s more a more realistic goal for now.
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and watch him on Periscope every Sunday from SMC track.