Devin Haney can look forward to a busy 2021 campaign, though not one which will necessarily satisfy his desire to clean out the lightweight division.
Now that the 22-year old Las Vegas native is back to being recognized by the World Boxing Council (WBC) as its true lightweight champion, with that honor will come mandatory obligations. Haney’s next ordered fight will be versus the winner of the January 2 interim title fight between Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17KOs) and former two-time challenger Luke Campbell (20-3, 16KOs). After that will come a second mandatory versus Javier Fortuna, whom Haney was ordered to face more than a year ago and remains on the hook to do so in 2021.
“The lightweight division, the mandatory contender for Devin Haney is the winner of Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC confirmed to BoxingScene.com and other reporters during a virtual roundtable on Tuesday. “Because he won a vacant championship, he also has a second mandatory… which is Javier Fortuna.
“Fortuna was going to fight [former three-division titlist Jorge] Linares [in August], but Linares tested positive for COVID. So, Fortuna remains and the two mandatories for Haney are the winner of Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell and Javier Fortuna is the second mandatory.”
Confusion previously regarding whom is the recognized champion at lightweight in the eyes of the World Boxing Council (WBC). Haney remains listed as the sanctioning body’s champion at the weight, while Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) was anointed as the WBC “Franchise” champion following his 12-round win over Vasiliy Lomachenko in their multi-belt unification bout this past October in Las Vegas.
Prior to the fight, Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) was openly recognized by the WBC as its lightweight champion, despite having vacated the belt last October in exchange for “Franchise” title status. Lopez’s win over Lomanchenko was marketed as for the undisputed championship, despite the WBC belt physically residing with Las Vegas’ Haney (25-0, 15KOs).
Following that bout along with Haney’s 12-round shutout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in a voluntary defense this past November, it appears the WBC has now returned to classifying the physical beltholder as its champion.
“This weight category goes back three years with extreme complications,” admits Sulaiman. “[Former four-division and WBC lightweight titlist] Mikey Garcia moved up in weight, after which the WBC orders a series of fights which several fell through.
“Haney won the interim title, [then the “World” title and] then he got injured. Then, Fortuna was going to fight [Campbell in a vacant title fight canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic]. It’s a long process. Haney has the mandatory in the winner of Ryan Garcia-Campbell. Since Fortuna couldn’t do the fight, he is the second mandatory.”
Fortuna (36-2-1, 25KOs) is coming off of a 6th round stoppage win over Antonio Lozada this past November in Los Angeles. The former secondary 130-pound titlist hadn’t fought in more than a year prior to that point, with two bouts canceled including a planned April 18 clash with Campbell for the then-vacant WBC title.
Haney previously—and begrudgingly—relinquished the title as he was unable to honor an ordered defense versus Fortuna due to recovering from shoulder surgery last fall. With the pandemic shutting down boxing around the world for several months, Haney was able to successfully lobby to have his title status restored, along with an approved voluntary title defense to be followed by back-to-back mandatories.
The ruling challenges Haney’s desire to pursue super fights with Lopez and WBA secondary titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (24-0, 23KOs) who is also the recognized WBA 130-pound champion.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox