The upcoming WBC Lightweight championship bout between Devin “The Dream” Haney and Jorge “El Niño de Oro” Linares is an age-old tale of youth versus experience. Haney, 13 years Linares’ junior has fought only 25 times, compared to the 52 bouts of experience that his challenger is coming into this fight with, but there’s a reason why Haney has the belt.
“I think he’s the biggest puncher I’ve faced; he’s the fastest, and I think he has the most skills.
via Fight Hype
When Devin Haney fights he is constantly one thing—active. He is unrelenting in his onslaught and is athletic enough to see punches coming and roll out of the way with finesse. Linares in comparison is more calculated in his style, throwing punches in response, his offense usually opening up in the later rounds. Possibly a testament to his experience, Linares seems comfortable on the canvas, patiently waiting for a misstep or an overconfident lunge, and punishing with a strong right hand.
“what i saw (when we sparred) was that he had talent, and look at him now, hes a world champion”
via Fight Hype
Haney has repeatedly been toted as the greatest lightweight currently fighting, and for the young champion, Linares offers a real test. Quite possibly the hardest opponent he has had to face yet, Haney keeps his confidence in check admitting that Linares is a terrific fighter, and acknowledging that it will be a challenge: “I think he’s the biggest puncher I’ve faced; he’s the fastest, and I think he has the most skills.” There is mutual respect shown by Linares for Haney as well, as Linares recalls a time that the two sparred when Haney was just a teenager: “What I saw [when we sparred] was that he had talent, and look at him now, he’s a world champion.”, in an interview to Fight Hype
Both fighters have extenuating circumstances that make a prediction hard to make. Haney has suffered some injuries in the past, with a major injury to his shoulder requiring surgery at the end of 2019. Linares on the other hand was diagnosed with the coronavirus in the fall of 2020, and has had over a year of downtime since his last fight against Carlos Morales last February.
Both Haney and Linares will be coming off of wins. Haney getting a unanimous decision victory over the Cuban native Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Linares reaching victory by knocking down and then knocking out the American fighter Carlos Morales in the 4th round of the bout.
Given Haney’s style of fighting, he will likely be taking the fight to Linares, testing the veteran’s endurance and chin. If it goes the distance, Linares may be able to score some solid shots as he warms up and turns things on; however, Haney will prove a very difficult opponent to weather rounds with, constantly peppering with jabs and exploding with well timed power shots. A prediction for Haney retaining his belt is likely the better call here, though victory will not come without a hard fought battle.
Regardless of the unpredictability in outcome, one thing is for certain; though both fighters have something to prove, all eyes will be on Haney to showcase his talents in this fight. A potential turning point for Haney, this championship defense will either be additional fodder to fuel his already skyrocketing career and reputation, or a champions fall from grace, leaving naysayers with everything they need to justify the overhype they’ve been arguing all along. Devin Haney has everything to lose in this title defense, and with a solid performance he can silence the doubters.
Video courtesy RealDevinHaneyTV