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A Contrast Of Lightweight Titles

Top Rank Boxing

New York: Devin Haney is undefeated (25-0-15 KO’s) and defends the WBC Lightweight title Saturday night in Las Vegas on DAZN against three-time champion Jorge Linares . Teofimo Lopez, (16-0-0, 12 KO’s) has his first title defense June 19 and holds a majority of the lightweight titles vs. George Kambosos on Triller Fight Club Pay Per View down in Miami, FL.

Two of the youngest fighters in boxing hold rights to the lightweight titles. Haney at the age of 22, and Lopez at 23 are on the verge of superstar status. But there is a contrast in styles out of the ring as Lopez continues to preach about the “Takeover” while Haney goes about his business and rarely makes a prediction about the outcome.

The contrast also has caused confusion about Lopez holding the undisputed titles. Of course you have to ask the WBC as to why Haney was anointed their champion after Lopez defeated Lomachencko and completed the first part of his takeover to unify titles at lightweight and junior welterweight.

In the ring, though, both lightweights have proved to be the young and rising superstar in boxing and they provide styles that appeal to boxing fans. To me, though, Lopez has the advantage with a dominant knockout punch. He entertains with a somersault in the middle of the ring after disposing of his opponents and that’s another component of his popularity.

Not taking anything away from Haney. He made a quick jump up the rankings that propelled him to his WBC interim title status after defeating Zaur Abdullaev in September of 2019. He was elevated to the WBC Lightweight champion because Lomachenko was promoted to “Franchise Champion.”

We will leave that status to another time because I am confused as many are, then again, this is boxing politics and how it works.

Regardless, Haney and Lopez are secure with promotional contracts. However, Lopez went to a purse bid with Triller for his upcoming title defense and Top Rank will collect a good portion of the purse. Also, Lopez is on the big stage with his first of what could be more pay-per-view fights.

And with DAZN and Matchroom, Haney is in good hands as a marketing tool and not that far away from also getting some of that pay-per-view revenue.

But let’s be realistic here, because the lightweight title is not undisputed or unified, as much as Teofimo Lopez has that distinction that is rightfully deserved, but the WBC always finds a way to cause more confusion.

And I can’t count how many times I have been asked why Haney has the WBC title designation with the assumption Teofimo Lopez is the undisputed and unified champion at 135.

Lopez showed a contrast and for a change was not entertaining during a Tuesday media Zoom conference call with the media. He went right to the answer and envisioned fighting the champions in his quest to continue this takeover after his win over Lomachenko.

“The whole thing is one fight in hopefully we can make those fights happen,” Lopez said.

He was referring to a possible meeting with Josh Taylor who dethroned Jose Ramirez and unified the 140 pound titles. Also, in an indirect way, Lopez said he would take on welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. and would not rule out a chance at overtaking Canelo Alvarez.

But those fights seem unlikely. The best opportunity is for Lopez to win against the mandatory challenger Kambosos and take on Haney to settle the confusion of the WBC title. Lopez also said he is his worst enemy when he talks but that is part of his popularity and huge platform on social media.

“It’s all about entertaining and bringing boxing back to its roots. Triller is doing a phenomenal job. They wanted to make this a fight card. My personality and everything is driven. I’m a showman, love the sport. My whole thing is using this voice and letting the others know and the youth all the money. It’s all about the main thing. It’s about where you came from.”

The Haney fight and outcome was not on his agenda and that was also a contrast to the Teofimo Lopez we know.

And in contrast, Haney goes about his business. He does not predict knockouts like Lopez does. His social media is more focused on himself and moving along as the WBC champion, but Lopez could be waiting.

May 28, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada; Devin Haney and Jorge Linares face off after weighing in for the Matchroom boxing card taking place this Saturday, May 29, 2021 at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

“I think that I just need to go in there put on a great performance,” Haney says. “If the stoppage comes, it comes. You know, it’s hard to knock a guy out that doesn’t wanna be knocked out. Some guys go in there and they try to survive.”

I asked Lopez about his training camp and preparation. Instead, it was about Teofimo Lopez and his quest to shut the mouths of the critics that have questioned his Takeover attitude and ability to deliver.

He said, “I’m going straight forward to everybody. I know where to hit him (Kambosos) to the forehead, to the body. Reason why is let everybody know I’m here to stay. I’m training for 15 rounds, not 12.”

And then he said, “ I’m knocking out everyone that was talking shit about me.”

Quite a contrast from Devin Haney, but a part of the fight business. And a good fight would be to end the confusion and see Lopez fight Haney because in reality, as the WBC says, the lightweight title is not unified and that division has reason to be disputed.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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