This year in is filled with rising stars in the lightweight division trying to make their mark. Twenty-one-year-old Devin Haney was the latest 135-pound star to do so, retaining his WBC world championship with a wide decision win over Yuriorkis Gamboa on Saturday inside Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Haney quickly established the rhythm of the fight, locking down distance and working off the jab. Gamboa, the shorter fighter, was forced almost immediately out of his element, stuck at a range where he couldn't effectively get his shots to the chin of Haney while getting slowly picked apart.
Haney kept the rhythm through the majority of the fight. With Gamboa unable to get off effective offense, Haney was able to slickly move and pick him off, piling up round after round on the scorecards.
Down the stretch, Haney tried to amp up his offense, trying to score the knockout and make a statement. While Gamboa's chin held up -- surprising given he has suffered 15 knockdowns in his professional career -- the increase in power punching from Haney forced the challenger to clinch frequently, leading to a point deduction for holding in Round 11.
The point deduction wasn't needed for Haney, however, as Gamboa's chances on the scorecards had long since faded.
After 12 rounds, the fight was handed over to the ringside judges, who turned in scorecards of 118-109, 120-107 and 120-107, all for Haney, who improved to 25-0 in his pro career.
"I thought I put in a world-class performance," Haney said after his victory. "Of course I wanted the knockout, but he was a crafty veteran and did a lot of holding. ... I knew that he was going to come in and be scrappy and do anything to survive and that's what he did."
The victory keeps alive a potential lightweight unification bout with Teofimo Lopez, who now holds the IBF, WBO and WBA world titles after his stunning defeat of Vasiliy Lomachenko in October. Haney has made noise about Lopez needing him to lay claim to being an undisputed champion, but has been met with criticism from many for taking a fight with Gamboa, who is not viewed as a top fighter at 135 pounds and and is largely considered nearly a decade past his prime while fighting two weight classes above his best.
Fellow young star Ryan Garcia has his own big fight coming up, meeting former Luke Campbell in what is considered a big step up for the 22-year-old. Also, WBA "regular" lightweight champion Gervonta Davis -- who knocked out Gamboa this past December -- is coming off a devastating Knockout of the Year candidate against Leo Santa Cruz in a Halloween night pay-per-view headliner.
Even with the criticism of the matchmaking and other young lightweights making bigger moves, Haney did accomplish his primary job and scored a win to remain world champion and stay in position for bigger and better fights. And he made it clear that a fight with Lopez was the top item on his wish list.
"Teofimo Lopez is the one with the rest of the belts, so that's the one that I want to make happen," Haney said.
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CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday. Read on for round-by-round breakdowns and highlights of the night's action.
Haney vs. Gamboa card, results
- Devin Haney (c) def. Yuriorkis Gamboa via unanimous decision (118-109, 120-107, 120-107)
- Filip Hrgovic def. Rydell Booke via fifth-round TKO
- Zhang Zhilei def. Devin Vargas via fourth-round TKO
- Reshat Mati def. Marcos Mojica via second-round TKO
- Raymond Ford def. Rafael Reyes via third-round TKO