Unified four-belt lightweight world champion Devin Haney finds himself in a bit of a tough situation right now, even coming off the biggest win of his career versus Vasiliy Lomachenko on May 20.
The 24-year-old Haney is, by all accounts (even his own), bursting at the seams as a lightweight. It’s becoming harder and harder for him to make the 135 lb. limit and a move up to 140 will very soon be a necessity. However, the Las Vegas resident does have all the belts at 135 and there are at least two big-money bouts to be made in the division– against Gervonta "Tank" Davis and Shakur Stevenson. Fights with either Davis or Stevenson would not only deliver huge payouts, but they would go a long way towards fortifying his growing professional legacy.
A move up to junior welterweight, though, would allow Haney to deal more comfortably with making weight. It would also bring into the picture another batch of high-profile opponents such as WBC champ Regis Prograis, WBO champ Josh Taylor, former 3-belt lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez (who will be challenging Taylor on June 10), IBF champ Subriel Matias, WBA champ Rolly Romero, former 2-belt world champ Jose Ramirez, and division newcomer Ryan Garcia.
Prograis feels that, no matter where Haney turns, he may be biting off more than he can chew.
"I think he’s in a tough spot right now," Prograis told Mill City Boxing. "You can stay down there , and you can mess with Shakur. You know Shakur is going to beat him. Everyone knows he can’t mess with Shakur, or you come up to 140 with the killers, and he’s in a tough spot right now."
"He might go after Rolly [at junior welterweight], but that’s it…The title holders, me, Subriel Matias, and Josh Taylor. I think he gets stopped by all three of us.
"He’s a good boxer, but he’s in a really tough spot right now. It’s a tough route. What are you going to do? Are you going to fight Tank, which Tank is a killer?
"Are you going to fight Shakur, which Shakur don’t lose no rounds? Are you coming to 140 and fighting the big killers at 140, fighters that are stopping people? Like me. I’m stopping people, hurting people.
"When I fight somebody, I’m going to take something out of you. The same thing with Matias and the same thing with Josh Taylor. Those are all big guys at 140, and all have big knockout power.
"I don’t know if he’s food, but he’s in a tough spot."
"If he fought me like he fought Loma, I stop him," Prograis added. "Those left hands and jabs that he was getting hit with. Loma is a 126-130-pounder.
"I’ve been at 140 my whole career. Him coming up, I stop him. I would hurt him real bad. He’s a good boxer, but he doesn’t have the power to keep me off.
"Loma won the fight [with Haney], but it wasn’t the robbery like people say. It was a close fight. I still thought Loma [should have been given the victory by the judges]. If Haney wasn’t the champion, Loma deserved to win that fight.
"Being a champion played a part in that."
Devin Haney and his team have a lot of thinking to do in the following weeks. The waters are deep and perilous no matter what talent pool he wades into.
That, however, is the pressure of being a world champion and an elite in the sport. Things will just keep getting harder and harder the higher Haney climbs.