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Devin Haney to defend WBC lightweight title against Jorge Linares on May 29

Haney takes it to Gamboa. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom
Fighters Network

Devin Haney will defend the WBC lightweight title agains Jorge Linares on May 29, Matchroom Boxing announced Wednesday afternoon.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Haney’s hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada and will stream live on DAZN.

Haney had also considered fights against mandatory challenger Javier Fortuna and Ryan Garcia, who owns the interim title, before accepting Linares as his next opponent, who will be a significant step-up in opposition. May 29 will also mark a clash of lightweight contenders ranked in the top 10 by The Ring. Haney and Linares are ranked No. 3 and 7, respectively.  

The 22-year-old (25-0, 15 knockouts) successfully defended the WBC title in his last fight on November 7, defeating Yuriorkis Gamboa by unanimous decision. In his previous fight in November 9, his first time defending the WBC title, Haney dropped Alfredo Santiago once en route to a one-sided decision victory. 

Haney does envision possible fights against Fortuna, Garcia and Ring Magazine champion Teofimo Lopez, but his focused on Linares, whom he said he grew up watching since he was a child.

“I’m very excited to be making my third World title defense against a great fighter like Jorge Linares, who will be the best fighter I will have ever faced in my career,” said Haney, who made his pro debut one month after 17th birthday. “He’s a three-division World champion who has fought at the championship level for the past thirteen years.

“I grew up watching Linares and the fact that this fight is happening in Las Vegas is incredible. Boxing fans around the world are eager to see me step up in competition which is great, and I know Linares is coming to fight. I’m ready to give the fans a spectacular performance. The better competition brings the best out of me. Against Linares, I’m going to show the world why I’m the king of the lightweight division.”

Linares (47-5, 29 KOs), who is originally from Barinas, Venezuela and lived for a significant of time of Tokyo, Japan, dropped Carlos Morales twice before knocking him out in round 4. Linares was penciled to face Ryan Garcia this past July in Los Angeles, but those plans went awry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 35-year-old Las Vegas resident has won three of his last four bouts since losing by knockout to Vasiliy Lomachenko in May 2018. The lone loss came at the hands in the opening round at the hands of Pablo Cesar Cano in January 2019. 

Linares has won world title belts at 126, 130 and 135 pounds. He is confident his ring generalship and experience will overcome Haney. 

“This is my moment to show the world that I still have a lot more to give at 135 pounds,” said Linares, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. “Devin Haney is a talented and quick-handed young man, but when I was his age, I had already become a world champion by snatching the title away from a real World champion like Oscar Larios. And now you can imagine how much more experience I have now at an age where I feel stronger and better than ever.

“Without a doubt it will be a tremendous fight, but I will demonstrate that Haney made a big mistake by accepting a challenge that he is still not ready to overcome.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing