Jorge Linares: This will be the hardest fight of Devin Haney’s life, he’s not ready for this level
Jorge Linares believes he can be a world champion again.
Linares, who has won titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, and lightweight, including three defenses of The Ring 135-pound world championship, faces WBC beltholder and rising star Devin Haney on May 29 (DAZN) with limited fan capacity at Michelob ULTRA Arena — the newly renamed Mandalay Bay Events Center — at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“Haney is a champion, but I don’t think he is ready for this level yet,” Linares (47-5, 29 KOs), of Venezuela, told The Ring. “I’m very pleased with his team for giving me this opportunity.”
All five of his defeats have come by way of knockout, three of which have taken place within the first two rounds, but the 35-year-old Linares assured that he is in the best shape of his life compared to the last five years.
“I’ve lost five times in my career. But always when I go down, I come back in better shape,” he explained. “I’m a four-time world champion, and I feel faster and stronger now than I have in the past five years.
“I know that I’m technically the old guy. I’m 35 years old, but I feel very, very good. I know that I don’t have many chances left [to win another world title]. I need to show everyone that I can be a champion again.”
When asked if he felt he was deserving of enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame with a victory over Haney, Linares was candid but quickly pivoted back to his opponent.
“I think I will be inducted into the [Hall of Fame], but the most important thing to me is to win more fights before I decide to retire.”
Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), 22, who trains out of Las Vegas, was promoted from “interim champion” status to a full WBC titleholder in 2019. He has followed up with two defenses of his belt by outpointing Alfredo Santiago and former titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa.
“Haney is a pretty young guy, and like Ryan Garcia, he talks too much,” Linares said. “Haney needs a fight with a guy like me. I’m a real world champion.
“This will be a very difficult opportunity for him and the hardest fight of his life. He needs to show the best version of him on fight night.”
Haney, who fought 10 of his first 15 professional bouts in Mexico, praised Linares.
“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.
“He’s a three-division world champion who has fought at the championship level for the past 13 years. I grew up watching Linares, and the fact that this fight is happening in Las Vegas is incredible.”