By Anthony “Zute” George – Devin Haney’s 12-round unanimous decision victory over Jorge Linares Saturday night should be considered nothing short of a big victory. It was a sound performance for the 22-year-old Dream. Haney stood in the pocket against a rugged, highly skilled veteran with dangerous power in both hands and scored consistently with both hands. If you buy into the narrative that DAZN was pitching before the fight, Devin Haney beat the undefeated version of Jorge Linares. You know, the one that goes over to Japan to train? The version of Linares that never lost. Indeed, The Dream put that narrative to sleep forever.
Having said that, many boxing fans are fickle, and there has been plenty of criticism of Haney because he was hurt late in the tenth round and did more holding than scoring in the final two rounds. Really? While it is salient to point out Haney had a vulnerable moment, it is reckless to diminish all the impressive work Haney did for eighty percent of the fight. No, we should not brush that moment under the rug, but it cannot be the narrative of the entire contest either.
Haney rightfully lost those last two rounds, and arguably the tenth, and still won the fight comfortably over twelve rounds.
If we are going to dismiss every fighter who gets hurt and holds too much when compromised, there will be very few fighters left.
Also, at only twenty-two years old, Haney showed the wherewithal to hold and play to the clock when his legs were not exactly there. Or is that not an important skill set anymore? It was certainly an aspect of the sweet science severely lacking from Thomas Hearns’ game back in 1981. Hearns was a world champion who had no clue what to do when hurt. What to do when the scorecards were in his favor late in a fight. Well, Haney did and was victorious as a result.
No, I am not saying Devin Haney is better than Thomas Hearns. All I am saying is that Haney knew what to do during a vulnerable moment in a meaningful fight, and The Hitman did not. Sometimes facts are not a bridge to opinions. Now, can we move on?
The same way Devin Haney should move on from this fight.
The gate is now open for some great fights. The Dream can become a reality if he is willing to walk in with his gloves laced up. Teofimo Lopez, Tank Davis, and Vasyl Lomachenko all have fights scheduled in June. Making a potential next fight for Haney very realistic. Will his people try and make that kind of a fight next?
If any of those big three happen to lose, Haney is in great shape to face that would be spoiler. There are no excuses for Haney to not dare to be great in his next fight. However, this is boxing, and the more realistic scenario is that none of those fights come to fruition. If that is the case, then Haney has very few good options that can move the needle. The Joseph Diaz vs. Javier Fortuna winner in July is acceptable and would be a dangerous fight. Francisco Vargas has a date in June with Isaac Cruz Gonzalez; Haney could face the winner of that fight; however, regardless of who wins, that would probably be considered a notch below Jorge Linares.
Devin Haney should not want to go backward with his level of competition, but it is never completely in the fighter’s control.
Ryan Garcia? No, I did not forget him. I am just granting him his wish of having the opportunity to take care if his well-being before I consider him for such a high-level fight. However, when in Rome…
Precisely who will The Dream test his skills against next?