By: Hans Themistode
The fans, media and even other boxers around the world may call Teofimo Lopez an undisputed lightweight champion, but Devin Haney believes it’s all phony.
The 21 year old WBC belt holder sat in his palatial estate and watched Lopez unseat former unified champion Vasiliy Lomachenko. During much of their build up, not only was the disdain between Lopez and Lomachenko highlighted, but a specific emphasis was placed on their contest having all of the lightweight marbles on the line.
Yet, as Haney looks at himself in the mirror, he still sees an undefeated record and a world title draped over his shoulder. So while most of the world continues to call Lopez an undisputed world champion, Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) is under the impression that the road to that distinction runs through him.
“At the end of the day he said he was willing to fight me,” said Haney during a recent Zoom press conference. “He knows that he doesn’t feel right without fighting me for the real undisputed. He knows that he’s not undisputed without fighting me.”
The confusion over Lopez’s undisputed status stems from Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the WBC. Shortly after Lomachenko won the WBC title in August of 2019 against Luke Campbell, Sulaiman relieved him of his title and instead, handed him the WBC Franchise title. That in turn pushed Haney, who won the WBC interim title one month later, to full title holder.
Sulaiman would go on to say that the Franchise belt isn’t an actual belt per se, but more so a designation that is bestowed to special individual fighters who fight across multiple weight classes. The Franchise title forgoes any mandatory challengers and cannot be won in the ring.
With that being said, before Lopez vs Lomachenko took place, team Lopez petitioned to have the WBC Franchise title on the line. Sulaiman approved his petition and with the win, Lopez is now in possession of that very title.
For Haney, he has continually spoken of how he simply wants to win world titles. However, the Franchise title isn’t something he currently has his eyes on.
“I’m not interested in winning a Franchise title, that’s not something that I really want to do but I am willing to fight for all the belts against Teofimo.”
As much as Haney would love to face off against Lopez, he currently has his focus locked in on former multiple division titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa. The two are set to face off this weekend in the main event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Although he isn’t looking past the soon to be 39 year old, he does believe that he’ll pick up the win in dominant fashion.
“He’s been in there with a lot of top guys and given them the toughest fight of their careers. I’m going to go in there and beat him worst than anybody ever has.”
Predictions aren’t exactly a thing for Haney. The WBC belt holder struggles to give an exact indication as to how any of his contests will play out beforehand. But just as he’s figured out a way to win every single time he’s stepped foot inside of the ring, he believes he’ll have his hand raised against Gamboa or more importantly, Teofimo Lopez.
“I do know I would be victorious against Teofimo. I’m not sure how the fight would play out but I know that I would be victorious against him.”
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