The lightweight division moves one step closer to a potential unificaton clash as Devin Haney defends his WBC belt against mandatory challenger Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz tonight.
One week after George Kambosos scored a shocking upset of Teofimo Lopez to win three of the four recognized lightweight world championships, Devin Haney is set to defend the fourth belt against dangerous for and former world champion Joseph Diaz Jr. It’s a dangerous fight for 23-year-old Haney and one that could see the division thrown into further chaos.
Haney (26-0, 15 KO) has been outstanding as a professional but his style and skills have made it hard for him to find appropriate opponents in a division loaded with talent. In his most recent outing, Haney was hurt badly late in his most recent fight, getting caught by Jorge Linares. He still managed to survive to the final bell and retained his title in the process. Needing a big opponent, Haney began calling out Diaz when Diaz’s fight with Ryan Garcia fell apart due to a Garcia hand injury.
Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO) is a former IBF super featherweight champion. His lone career defeat came in 2018 when he dropped a decision to Gary Russell Jr. in a fight for the WBC featherweight title. Since that loss, Diaz has gone 6-0-1, including defeating Javier Fortuna in his most recent outing, picking up the WBC interim lightweight title in the process.
The fight will be shown on DAZN around the world (except Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia), and it lays the groundwork for a clash with George Kambosos Jr.
For most of unbeaten Devin Haney’s title defense in May, a step-up bout against former two-division champion Jorge Linares, the WBC lightweight champion looked to be nothing short of the future of the 135-pound division.
Then, adversity struck. Haney was rocked in Round 10 and spent the rest of the contest in full damage control as he held gratuitously and circled away from contact en route to a unanimous decision win.
As Haney (26-0, 15 KOs), the 23-year-old phenom from Las Vegas, enters his return on Saturday at the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena, the stakes couldn’t be higher given the recent events within the division (8 p.m. ET, DAZN — subscribe now). Should Haney defend his WBC belt against interim titleholder and former two-division champion Joseph Diaz Jr. (32-1-1, 15 KOs), a shot at undisputed lightweight glory could be next against newly crowned unified king George Kambosos Jr.
Kambosos, fresh off a thrilling upset of Teofimo Lopez Jr. last weekend to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF titles, has named Haney as the leading candidate for his next fight and is hoping to stage the event in front of 80,000 fans at a stadium in his native Australia.
The WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC ‘franchise’ champion defeated Teofimo Lopez last weekend in New York and there seems little appetite for a rematch.
That means the path is clear for Haney to clear up any confusion over who the true WBC belt holder is, and Kambosos will get a crack at becoming undisputed at 135lbs.
Diaz, meanwhile, will be aiming to establish himself as a two-division champion after moving up from the super featherweight division.
In addition to the main event, there are some big names on the undercard including Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgovic and undisputed women’s welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill who defends her four world titles against Victoria Bustos.