Saturday marks the return of WBC lightweight champion, Devin Haney, who will be looking to make a statement of his own following huge wins for fellow American stars Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis in the star studded 135 lbs division. Haney takes his first meaningful step up as he welcomes former featherweight world champion and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Yuriorkis Gamboa to the title picture.
The 21 year old Haney (24-0, 15 KO’s) has been searching for a signature win for some time since claiming the interim WBC lightweight belt in 2019, and having been promoted to full champion due to the dawn of the WBC’s Franchise champion nonsense, can’t seem to shake the ‘Email World Champion’ tag.
Having fully recovered from a shoulder injury that required surgery, an injury sustained in the maiden defence of his world title last November, Haney has spent time training at the Mayweather gym under the tutelage of the man himself.
Training under a man who had already captured a world title before Haney was even born, the self proclaimed ‘best ever’ will certainly benefit the Californians development in and out the ring, with Haney already claiming he’s the highest paid lightweight in the world, a play straight out of the Mayweather playbook.
In the opposing corner stands the diminutive Cuban Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-3, 18 KO’s) a world class amateur who was able to translate his skills into the professional ranks with huge initial success, Gamboa is certainly no walk in the park for any fighter.
With much of his better work coming at 126 and 130 lbs (yet to taste defeat at either weight) Gamboa has come unstuck when moving up to lightweight, where he has found himself outsized in losses to Terence Crawford and Gervonta Davis, being stopped in the later rounds in both.
His only other loss came at the hands of unheralded Mexican Robinson Castellanos, where an unmotivated Gamboa was dropped twice and quit on his stool in what was one of the biggest upsets of 2017. A loss that at the time was treated as the beginning of the end for the Cuban, very few would’ve believed he’d still be challenging for world honours three years later.
Boxing is a ruthless sport, with old legends being fed to young lions in order to build their resume and profile all the time. With the allure of some truly huge fights on the horizon for the winner, does Gamboa have enough left in the tank to roll back the years and upset the odds? Or is the passing of the torch from one generation to the next imminent? We’ll find out on Saturday night.