LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney takes place on a literal and figuratively Saturday night.
The 22-year-old lightweight champion was in full command of his fight with Jorge Linares until the menacing Linares attacked him in combination before the bell rang. To finish the 10th round, Haney was too insistent in the 11th and 12th rounds, enough to prevent Linares from hurting him again until the last bell sounded.
Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) won the unanimous decision to retain his 135-pound WBC world championship, but fans in Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena booed him when he jumped onto the rope in his corner and then. It’s Linares’ corner after the Bell final. Referees Dave Moretti (115-113), Patricia Morse Jarman (116-112) and Steve Weisfeld (116-112) all scored for Haney, who appeared to be fully committed to the “best of” goals. Fell down Linares (47-6, 29 KOs) and drop with a public favorite before 10th-round injury.
The crowd cheered when Michael Buffer announced the decision as well, but Haney had built enough lead before the final two to win the fight, Haney, who was criticized by fans and the media for being a sometimes boring fighter. It appears to be intent on entertaining before those tough times in the championship.
Haney also dealt with the first apparent adversity in his five-year career.
“I’m here, I’ve won. And I’m satisfied,” Haney told DAZN’s Chris Mannix during a post-fight interview. “That’s what the fans want to see. if i can go in and walk to make the opponent fall hit him with a big shot I showed I could do it all, drums, bang, you know, he hit me with a good shot. I faced adversity and I got a job.”
The Oaklanders became the first opponent to beat Linares by points, though. The Venezuelan veteran’s five previous defeats have resulted in a technical knockout.
Las Vegas native Haney, who came in as a 7-1 favorite, defended his third WBC lightweight world title he won when he stopped Zaur Abdullaev after the round in September 2019 at the theater. Madison Square Garden’s Hulu in New York
Mora warned Linares sternly about hitting Haney in the back of his head for about 45 seconds in lap 12. Linares attempted to hurt Haney again in that final, but Haney held him back and walked to the final bell.
Haney’s legs had not been under him since the start of the 11th round as Linares attacked him before the end of the 10th round. Linares had a left hook early in the lap that affected Haney.
The sage Haney managed as much in the 11th round, enough to regain consciousness. And he punched his fist so hard until the end of the three minutes.
A right-and-left combination by Linares just before the end of the 10th round hurt Haney and caused him to miss a step as he walked into his corner. Linares noticed and mockedly used his arm to bring Haney back to the corner.
“It was a good shot,” Haney said. “I’ve never been injured. but at the end I’m going in. Box smart, he hit me with a good shot. I’ve never been hurt But I’m still boxing smart.
“Sometimes when you get a good shot I’m not injured But you have to be smart in it. And that’s the game plan, you know, even if you shoot well. You’re also boxing smart. You continue to follow your game plan. And I did that and I won.”
Linares’ left hook fell 50 seconds into the 10th round.
Linares’ left upper cut stopped Haney briefly in the ninth lap, and they traded another heavy punch near the end of the ninth. Which seemed to give Linares a boost when he returned to his corner.
Haney destroyed Linares with just 15 seconds on the left hook in the eighth round. Another cap left, with Haney landing with just two minutes remaining on the clock in the eighth round.
Haney in charge of the remaining eighth game.
Haney snuck into the left upper-cut again with just a minute remaining to advance to the seventh round. Haney’s right-hand man split Linares’ card with 30 seconds to advance to the seventh round.
Haney nailed Linares with a right uppercase 18 seconds into the sixth round. Haney also cut off Linares with a 1:10 left hook in the sixth round.
Linares landed on the right with 1:20 to go into the sixth round. Haney appeared to stun Linares with his right hand with just a minute left in the sixth round.
However, Linares returned to land a combined right and left that snapped Haney’s head back with about 10 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Haney landed another left upper-cut in the first minute of the fifth round. Haney smashed Linares out towards the end of the fifth round.
Linares landed a right hand and then two left hooks to trade during the final 30 seconds of the fifth round. Haney didn’t seem to care about those shots. and fired back with his own powerful ammunition.
Just 30 seconds into the fourth round, Linares had hooked left up to the top. Haney took that punch well and continued to work on his jab.
Linares caught Haney with another left hook at around 1:35 to go through to the fourth round. Linares’ left-right combination connected in the final minute of the fourth round, but Haney shrugged.
Hany returned to smash Linares with the left hook on his head. and another left hook on his body after Linares shot in place.
Haney’s right hand caused Linares to lose balance in the first minute of the third round. Linares waved Haney forward after a shot.
Haney hit Linares with a left uppercase with just 30 seconds to enter the third round.
The Haney combination connected less than 30 seconds in the second round. About 25 seconds later, Haney lunged into the right uppercase on the inside.
Haney’s hand speed and combined punches continued to trouble Linares throughout the second round, with Mora warning Haney a second time for a final-minute foul of the second round, this time with a forearm smashing against Haney’s neck. Linares
Haney continued with a left hook around 1:10 AM to reach the first round. He performed well in his first round.
Linares’ left hook grazed on Haney’s side late in the first round.
Haney immediately established himself by scoring multiple goals against Linares within the first 30 seconds of the fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/column for BoxingScene.com He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.