Devin Haney didn’t get the knockout against Yuriorkis Gamboa, but he still performed at a high level. Many are harshly criticizing him.
WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney defeated former two-time champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, by lopsided unanimous decision. Even after a one-sided victory, fans and pundits are quick to criticize Haney, but is it warranted?
Boxing’s lightweight division is fire. Teofimo Lopez earned undisputed lightweight champion status with his decisive win over former division kingpin Vasiliy Lomachenko. Then, Gervonta Davis made the world pay attention to his presence after his picturesque one-punch KO of four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz. Haney had his work cut out for him following their feats.
Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) deserves lots of hype. At 21 years old, he has shown tremendous ability in a short amount of time. Going in against Gamboa, everyone, including Haney, knew that his performance against the Cuban gold medalist would be compared to division rival Davis’s 2019 12th round KO of Gamboa.
Haney was confident going into the fight and told Yahoo that he wanted to prove a point against Gamboa. He implied that he wanted the type of sensational triumph that would equal or overshadow Lopez and Davis’s recent displays in the ring. Haney dominated Gamboa for a commanding decision win, but the fight as a whole was underwhelming to watch.
After the fight, boxing Twitter denounced Haney’s showing against Gamboa. Many expected Haney to stop Gamboa early. Yes, Gamboa has been knocked out three times in the past and hurt on multiple occasions, but he’s more than just an average opponent. Even at 38 years old, Gamboa still has some fight left in him.
Devin Haney still belongs in the company of Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis even though he didn’t put Gamboa out
Adjectives like “disappointing,” “terrible,” and “struggling” were used to describe Haney’s effort against Gamboa. Those are pretty harsh assessments.
There’s no doubt that Lopez and Davis’s recent outings were more impressive than Haney’s. Putting them together, it’s also fair to say that they are better lightweights than Haney, but that doesn’t mean that Haney is out of their orbit.
Lopez and Haney have gone back and forth over social media. Lopez deserves all the accolades for beating Lomachenko, but Haney is still a threat to any lightweight. No, he’s not on Lopez’s level now, but he has all the potential to reach or even surpass Lopez and Davis.
That word “potential” is tricky. All the stars have to align just right for a fighter to reach their full potential, and they are often their own worst enemies. Floyd Mayweather, a.k.a TBE, said words to that effect when talking to FanSided about Davis’s potential leading up to his contest with Santa Cruz.
You can’t use one display to close the book on a boxer’s future. People react in the here and now, and they also have short memories. Not long ago, people were questioning Lopez’s value after his decision win over Masayoshi Nakatani. Many expected him to get a knockout, but he had to box.
How about Davis’s performance against Gamboa? People looked at Davis’s win as a letdown, and he won by TKO. He had a one-legged Gamboa in there with him for most of the time after a torn Achilles, and he had to wait until round 12 to put him away. People questioned Davis’s endurance and thought he took too long to close the show.
Haney had to box Gamboa, and that’s not what people wanted to see. He also allowed other’s opinions to dictate the way he fought Gamboa. He tried to force the knockout against Gamboa because that’s what others expected out of him. Instead of letting the KO come naturally, Haney tried to load up on punches and made his attacks predictable in the process.
It also didn’t help that Gamboa excessively held, forcing the referee to deduct a point in round 11. Even with all that, Haney still won by a wide margin on every card, pulling a shutout on two of the three scores.
Don’t turn your back on Haney after one fight. He doesn’t have to be a one-punch knockout artist like Davis or Lopez to become a better boxer than them eventually. Mayweather wasn’t a knockout puncher, but he used his brain combined with his ability to win on the cards. It didn’t always please fans, but it won fights and made him ridiculous amounts of money. Haney needs to follow Mayweather’s model and heed his advice.
Yes, Lopez and Davis are the two best lightweights in the world based on their accomplishments but given a little time, Haney could pass them up. It all comes down to timing, mental fortitude, and talent. Haney is more than in the mix. Don’t let his outing against Gamboa sway you away from buying Haney’s stock going forward. He might end up being something special.