In the past month, the lightweight division has displayed top talent in big fighs . Last month, Teofimo Lopez defeated Vasyl Lomachenko in a high stakes winner take all unification bout, becoming the youngest four belt holder in boxing history. Two weeks later, Gervonta Davis made a statement by knocking out Leo Santa Cruz with what is likely going to be the KO of the year. Saturday was Devin Haney’s chance to keep up with his contemporaries and keep his name in the conversation amongst the division’s elite.
This was Haney’s first fight in a year after suffering a shoulder injury in last year’s bout against Alfredo Santiago. Yuriorkis Gamboa had also been out of action, suffering a significant Achilles injury in his 2019 fight with Gervonta Davis.
The expectation here was that Haney would keep pace and put on a highlight reel performance against a 38-year-old Gamboa, who’s clearly on the downside of his career. Gamboa’s physique did not inspire any notions of confidence. He looked far heavier than he did in his previous outings, and frankly, looked as if he did not want to be there. The only question left was, would Haney be able to get the stoppage victory like Terrance Crawford and Gervonta Davis did in prior outings with Gamboa.
Any hopes of that happening seemed to be quickly dashed though. Haney was in control of the fight from the beginning of round one. After the 3rd round, Gamboa seemed resigned to his fate and completely disengaged. His punch output was low and he seemed keen on just surviving. Haney on the other hand, was boxing beautifully. He controlled the fight with his jab, and used his speed to keep Gamboa befuddled. Given how in control of the fight he was, the question was being asked, why was he not attempting to apply more pressure to put his opponent away?
When punching wasn’t working, Gamboa resorted to clinching. In the eleventh round, he was docked a point for excessive clinching putting him further behind on the scorecards than he already was. Haney claimed victory via a dominate twelve round unanimous decision. The final scores read 118-109, and 120-107 twice, signaling a virtual shutout.
Make no mistake, Devin Haney is one of the elite at 135lb, but coming on the heels of Lopez’s historical win and Davis’s explosive knockout, many are questioning if he deserves to be in that conversation. And the answer simply is: Yes. Was it the prettiest win? No. It was a dominant win nonetheless, and his performance here was not indicative of how he would perform against the other champions in the division.
When asked who he wants to fight next, he made it clear he wanted Teofimo Lopez Jr. who called him an “email champion” following his win against Lomachenko.