By: Hans Themistode
All Devin Haney believed he needed was the right opponent to showcase the skills many have lauded him for. Tonight, at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, he was given the perfect foe.
With multiple world titles in numerous weight classes sitting on his mantle at home, Jorge Linares was firmly under the belief that he was ready to add to his already impressive collection. With that said, Haney proved to be a bit too much.
In front of reportedly 5,000 fans, Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) was the far sharper and stronger fighter on the night. The moment the opening bell rang, Haney stepped right to his former sparring partner and attempted to take the center of the ring. He pushed out a stiff jab that snapped back the head of Linares and spent most of the round outboxing his man.
With the jab of Haney pocketing him the round, the Las Vegas, resident went right back to it in round two. The 22-year-old pushed the pace and threw countless jabs. Seemingly unsure how to stop it, Linares (47-6, 29 KOs) kept a high tight guard and allowed the blows of Haney to bounce off his gloves. Realizing the new tactic of his opponent, Haney began punishing the body of Linares. Straight left hands to the midsection brought the hands of Linares down which allowed Haney to land several shots upstairs.
As the rounds began to tick away, Linares appeared content with simply looking for the right opportunity to land a big shot. Although he uncorked several, Haney was simply too slick as Linares would continually hit nothing but air.
As round five rolled by, Linares came out with a sense of urgency. The former multiple division champion had his best round by far as he landed big shots. Still, despite his success, Haney steadied himself and got back to his boxing for the duration of their contest.
Many of the rounds began looking the same as Haney boxed, moved and landed at will. With the championship rounds upon them, Haney appeared to be in cruise control. Then, just when he believed he was safe, Haney stood around in the pocket for far too long in the tenth. Linares landed a sharp left hand and finished his combination with a hard right. As the bell rang, Haney wobbled to his corner.
A confident Linares attempted to go on the attack in round 11 but Haney held on for dear life. Although Haney appeared to get his second wind in the 12th and final round, in no way shape or form did he seem interested in exchanging heavy shots with the former belt holder. At one point during the round, Haney ran toward his man and hugged him. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the crowd booed profusely.
With 12 rounds officially in the books, Linares simply ran out of time as Haney held, hugged, boxed his way to a close unanimous decision victory. Two judges scoring the bout had it 116-112 while the final judge had it 115-113, all in favor of Haney.
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