Saturday’s Matchroom Boxing on DAZN fight card was headlined by “The Dream” Devin Haney (25-0), who defended his WBC Lightweight title against long-time contender and former champion, Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-4).
Haney approached the night with a widely known goal of not only beating Gamboa, but doing so in impressive fashion. Particularly, Haney stated he wanted to outdo what possible future opponent, Gervonta Davis, had done against the Cuban, ultimately ending the fight in the 12th round last year.
The WBC Lightweight champion had his sights set on higher peaks than that of defeating the former champion and Olympic gold medalist, but didn’t allow those aspirations to limit his performance with the task at hand.
Haney came out focused, calculated and patient, not allowing his desire for a show-stopping performance to lead to reckless activity in the ring, which is especially impressive being that the champ is just 21 years old.
Gamboa historically has the most success when he can coerce his opponents into fire fights, having some success doing so in both the Terence Crawford and Davis fights—even if ultimately unsuccessful. Haney, however was able to control the pace and distance for the vast majority of the championship bout.
In Round 4, The Dream began to land heavier combinations, including a right hand and upper cut that highlighted the round.
While Gamboa’s body language read frustration, he was able to gain momentum, however slightly, in the fifth round, which was his best (although he still likely lost the round). For the most part, Gamboa held Haney when the fighters got inside, but offered little offensively.
Meanwhile, Haney continued his sharp work, landing the majority, if not all of the meaningful offense throughout the contest.
What was not a surprising outcome did have some surprising aspects. Gamboa, who has been known for not being able to withstand clean shots, was able to withstand a number of huge punches from Haney, who has recently displayed put-away power.
Ultimately, the contest was a step towards the bigger fights in the division for Haney and a return to health following a shoulder operation in a shutout type performance against his most credible opponent to date.
It will certainly be interesting to see what the future has in store for the young champion in a thriving division, bursting with top talent. Even if a knockout statement wasn’t delivered, its clear Haney belongs in the conversation amongst the elite at Lightweight.