The lightweight division is definitely the most attractive category of the boxing world, nowadays, with young and talented boxers such as Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, George Kambosos. Despite there are usual TV broadcasting right issues amongst top boxers, 2021 could potentially give all boxing enthusiasts great fights such as Teofimo Lopez vs Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis.
From the latest statements, it appears that Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) does not want to face Devin Haney immediately. As a result, the U.S. champion Haney, currently WBC champion, hopes to fight against Teofimo Lopez, current WBA, WBO and IBF champion, to determine who is the true king of the lightweight division. However, a potential reunification fight between Devin Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) and Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) would have several problems as the two world champions are tied to two different managers and broadcasters. In fact, the WBC champion Haney has a contract with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, which has granted the broadcasting rights to DAZN, while Lopez, represented by Bob Arum and Top Rank, offers exclusivity to ESPN.
This complication makes it unlikely that Teofimo Lopez vs. Devin Haney will take place in the immediate future, which would lead Devin Haney to a much less glamorous opponent for his third WBC world lightweight title defense. In a recent interview with the television show “Ak & Barak”, Devin Haney expressed the interest in fighter Ryan Garcia or, alternatively, Teofimo Lopez. However, since the American boxer is full aware of the broadcasting rights issues, Haney has also stated that other to potential targets could be Javier Fortuna or Jorge Linares.
Javier Fortuna (36-2-1, 25 KOs) is ranked second in the WBC lightweight rankings, behind only Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs). While Jorge Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) is ranked fifth by the WBC. Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC president, had announced that Devin Haney would have to make two mandatory defenses of his title, one against the Ryan Garcia (after defeating Luke Campbell) and another against Javier Fortuna. But despite the obligations of the defenses, the WBC president has made it clear that he will not oppose Devin Haney to fight Teofimo Lopez.
“It’s gotten to the point where I say, well, why don’t we make the fight happen.” Haney said, speaking of Teofimo Lopez. “If you and I fight, I promise you that after the fight there will be no confusion whatsoever. Everyone will know who the real undisputed king is. I understand that. But Teofimo?” Ever since Teofimo Lopez beat the Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko becoming the new unified lightweight champion, he has done nothing but proclaim himself the king of the division. A definition of himself, the one expressed by Teofimo Lopez, that not everyone appreciates yet and that is considered by many too premature. Among the skeptics towards this statement, there is the father and trainer of the talented Californian boxer Ryan Garcia, fresh winner of the WBC “interim” title of the category after the victory of last January 2 on the hostile British Luke Campbell (20-4-0, 16 KOs).
“I give credit to Teofimo, even though he shouldn’t say he’s the king of lightweight,” Henry Garcia told Pro Boxing Fans. “I know he beat Lomachenko, but think about it, Lomachenko is actually a 130-pound fighter, he’s a super featherweight, he’s not a true lightweight. A true lightweight rehydrates by easily getting up to 143, 144 pounds, he can even get up to the welterweight limit, but there’s no way for a super featherweight to rehydrate and get to be super lightweight or welterweight really. Maybe super lightweight at best, but you also need height to be able to consider yourself a king and beat anyone,” the latter phrase also underscoring Lomachenko’s inadequacy due to physicality in the lightweight division. Apparently, Lomachenko himself realized that and he is considering to return among the super-featherweight boxers, a category surely more congenial for him.
In his speeches Ryan Garcia Senior remains objective: “So if Teofimo beats Haney, if he beats Tank (Gervonta Davis) and if he beats Ryan, then I will say that he is the king and the same goes for Ryan. If Ryan beats Tank, Haney and Teofimo, then he’s the king and he’s moving on, but don’t call yourself king until you’ve beaten everybody!” he continued in his interview.
Certainly there is no shortage of talent in this division and we will definitely see some good things in the near future. In the nearest future, meanwhile, we could see Teofimo Lopez facing the WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia fighting against WBA title holder Gervonta Davis as their respective pairs seem to be pushing in this direction. Those would be two extraordinary fights in a boxing division which is packed of talented and young boxers.