After making a lot of noise in an attempt to get Joseph "JoJo" Diaz Jr. in the ring, WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney is getting his wish. Haney will defend his title against Diaz on Dec. 4. The pair will meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, streaming live on DAZN.
When rising lightweight star Ryan Garcia was forced out of a planned bout with Diaz due to a hand injury, Haney (26-0, 15 KO) immediately began pushing for Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO) to face him. A champion effectively asking to be in a "replacement" position is unusual, but Haney has struggled to secure big fights in a talent-loaded division while men like Teofimo Lopez, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis and Garcia all serve as headline-grabbing names.
Even Haney's status as a world champion isn't recognized by some. He was promoted to world champion by the WBC when the sanctioning body had promoted Lomachenko to "franchise champion" status. Haney was made "champion in recess" when he was unable to defend the belt due to injury and a fight between Javier Fortuna and Luke Campbell was set up for the title, only to have Haney file an appeal and be reinstated as champion. Teofimo Lopez, who holds the IBF, WBO and WBA lightweight titles, has repeatedly called Haney the "email champion" for not winning the belt in the ring but instead finding out he was world champion via a WBC email.
With Diaz, a former IBF super featherweight world champion, available, Haney made the move to try and land a fight that would position him for the kind of fights he has been demanding for years.
"This is going to be a thrilling fight in what is the most exciting weight class in the sport right now," promoter Eddie Hearn said in a release.
Diaz has only suffered one loss in his career, a May 2018 decision loss to Gary Russell Jr. In February, he battled to a draw with Shavkat Rakhimov but bounced back to beat Fortuna for the WBC interim lightweight title in July, securing a big money fight with Garcia before the new move to the bout with Haney.