Undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney wasn’t going to be long for the division, and the news that Haney will move up to junior welterweight to challenge WBC champ Regis Prograis confirmed it.
Haney wasn’t looking like he could safely make the 135 pound limit anymore. Furthermore, draining himself to face Shakur Stevenson or a rematch with Vasily Lomachenko wouldn’t be as rewarding as the fight with Prograis and a potential grudge match with Teofimo Lopez just five pounds up the scale.
Nobody really cared much for Haney at lightweight, anyway, especially after he broke the boxing media’s collective hearts for beating their darling Lomachenko. With Haney’s impending departure and return to the division’s status quo of a fractured title scene, there are several scenarios that will make the reset at 135 quite compelling.
Let’s not get too optimistic. This is boxing, after all.
Instead of making you endure the wall of text that lies ahead, let me just cut to the chase: in the next 18 months, Stevenson and Davis will likely emerge as the only champions of the lightweight division. It’s about as predictable as death, taxes, and Demetrius Andrade complaining about not getting a payday.
Stevenson’s abandoned title bout with Frank Martin practically invites anyone from the WBC rankings to take a leisurely stroll through the door to serve as Stevenson’s patsy. We’re talking about Stevenson possibly facing the #6 ranked Edwin De Los Santos or the #7 ranked Jamaine Ortiz. Yes, these are names that scream “main event,” right? If they were going to book the Martin fight on a Thursday, just imagine what the pay-per-view price is going to be for those disasters!
See, that’s the thing about Top Rank, the promotional powerhouse that somehow can’t seem to make a fight for a guy they’re grooming to be a star. It’s like having the winning lottery ticket but using it as a bookmark for your favorite self-help book –but the boxing media predictably won’t bite the 91-year-old hand that feeds them and dare ask why that is.
Moving on to Davis, who could easily be declared the full WBA champion, considering he already holds one of their countless “bullshit variants.”
It wouldn’t be out of character for the WBA to just gift him a title without breaking a sweat, all in the hopes of securing a slice of Davis’s ever-expanding purse. But don’t worry, there will be a fight because, well, it’s boxing, and we know the WBA is all about sanctity and integrity.
Premier Boxing Champions will seize the moment to cash in on Issac Cruz as Davis’ victim. Even if the rematch is about as appealing as watching paint dry in a retirement home common room, it essentially ends the agonizing attempt to make Cruz a thing and gets real gold on Davis. It’s a two-for-one deal, folks!
As time marches on, Stevenson and Davis will collect the other titles like trophies, setting the stage for a round of negotiations that could reopen the freshly healed wounds for Crawford vs. Spence.
Stevenson, like a diligent contract-bound soldier, will play the waiting game, thinking Top Rank is his ticket to stardom. But sooner or later, he’ll realize that Top Rank isn’t exactly losing sleep over his promotional dreams. He’ll probably jump ship and, like clockwork, face Davis for all the marbles.
…Or, for an appropriately boxing twist, he might choose to do the “dumbass” thing, following in the footsteps of Crawford, and extend his contract just when it seems like the perfect moment to break free. Because, hey, in the world of boxing, the line between brilliance and “dumbass” decisions is often razor-thin.
Now, let’s talk about Vasily Lomachenko, who remains ranked inside the top five of every sanctioning body.
Lomachenko’s apparent reluctance to step into the ring with Stevenson suggests retirement is, and should be, right around the corner. But it isn’t to be just yet, because there’s still some juice left in the tank of boxing’s beloved master class fighter – though he does have a tendency to turn into a mere mortal when facing anyone better than your local toughman.
Lomachenko has a third title reign gift-wrapped and ready to be hand-delivered to him. I can almost picture the staff at Ring TV saying, “Here you go, Vasily, another one, have my children.”
That’s where George Kambosos Jr. comes in, ranked #3 by the IBF. Now, let’s be honest, Kambosos is the type of opponent that Lomachenko can effortlessly outshine, even at this stage of his career. A Lomachenko vs. Kambosos match up should still look like an old man taking candy from a baby.
Kambosos, fresh off a questionable decision win over Maxie Hughes and two shutout losses to Haney, is the perfect canvas for Lomachenko to paint his final masterpiece. And let’s not forget the added bonus: fight fans and media folks can finally find closure in their strange hearts if Lomachenko beats Kambosos more impressively than Haney did.
Until Top Rank forces Lomachenko to face Stevenson or Lomachenko retires, this isn’t the final chapter in the Lomachenko saga. It’s almost painful to witness the Australian Issac Cruz repeatedly landing these big fights, but he’s a cog in the machine that will make all of this possible.
It’s safe to say Martin backing out of a fight with Stevenson was pretty stupid, but he’s not entirely to blame. I mean, who in their right minds would want to watch that clash on a Thursday in November? Since the canceled showdown, Martin has been taking it all on the chin.
Martin stood absolutely no chance against Stevenson, and his handlers must have had a lapse in judgment when making that fight, but a champion Martin will still be. The WBO is not going to sit on the sidelines with a belt for sale, and they’ll find a willing buyer with Martin and Premier Boxing Champions .
Now, I’ll confess, I hate champions on training wheels, and Martin would fit that description to a tee. But I can’t imagine Martin being talked out of a title fight with no contingency plan. This way, Martin ends up getting a few title defenses on his resume and some decent exposure before being chopped up like chum to Davis.
So when it’s all said and done, there is a path for some legitimately good fights and a fun narrative to follow along. Let’s just hope that amidst the nonsensical politics of boxing, the real fans of the sport get what they deserve – a high-profile chase that ends with an undisputed champion.