Just one week after the defeat of Teofimo Lopez (who was the recognized lightweight champion coming into his bout with George Kambosos) Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis, were able to successfully defend their versions of the lightweight title this past weekend.
But it wasn't easy for them.
On Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Haney retained his WBC belt by out-pointing Joseph Diaz over 12 rounds. This wasn't a scintillating fight, but it was a solid boxing match between two technically sound fighters.
For much of the fight, it was the quick fisted attack of Haney that controlled the action from the outside. Haney is a well-schooled boxer with elite athleticism and a high ring IQ. But at the upper levels of the sport, his lack of real power is evident. His last four outings have all been 12 round decision victories.
Ed Mulholland and Matchroom Sports
There aren't many fighters that will out-box him, but there is a troubling trend of him getting hurt in the late stages of fights. Back in late May, Jorge Linares buzzed him near the end of the 10th round, and had him holding on and running out the clock the last six minutes of their contest. Then against the relatively light hitting Diaz, he was stunned by a sharp left hand in the 12th.
It makes you wonder if the weight cut to 135 is taking a toll on the 23 year old Haney, who has spent his entire six year career as a lightweight. But there is a bit of a Catch-22 situation for him. While he may have more left in his tank on fight night as a '40-pounder, he is also facing bigger, stronger men in that weight class.
Haney has said consistently that his willingness to make the lightweight limit is directly tied to his ability to land a meaningful fight inside the division. It's not clear if he's any closer to getting that type of bout in 2022, but he ended his 2021 campaign by facing two former world-champions in Linares and Diaz.
Ed Mulholland and Matchroom Sports
The following night in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, Davis successfully held onto his WBA belt by winning a hard-fought decision against the unheralded, Isaac Cruz, who despite being a late replacement for Rolly Romero, was actually an upgrade in opponent for this pay-per-view event.
Cruz, who's nickname is 'Pit Bull' was dogged throughout this contest. At a squat 5'4, he is actually a couple of inches shorter than Tank, fought in what could be described as a bit of a peek-a-boo style, that had him crouching down, moving his head constantly, with a high guard. This Mexican Tyson wasn't quite the easy target that many expected, also Davis seemed uncomfortable in having to punch down at his opponent.
Davis, who claimed to have injured his left hand somewhere around the middle of the fight, was never close to getting the heavy underdog out of there as many expected. To the contrary, what was thought to be a relatively easy night at the office, turned into a real fight down the stretch as Cruz just kept steadily coming forward, and landing his share of power punches.
When the scorecards were read, two judges had Davis ahead by the tally of 115-113, and the other at 116-112. These scores do accurately reflect the close, competitive nature of this contest.
Yet in defeat, Cruz saw his stock rise, while Davis didn't really make the impression he wanted in there.
Like Haney, he had won, but the performance left some questions.
So in the span of two weeks, Lopez, Haney and Davis all performed. One suffered a huge upset defeat, while both Haney and Davis came out victorious. Meanwhile, Ryan Garcia continues to tweet about his lightweight colleagues while not actually participating in any fights of his own.
It was symbolic that both Haney and Davis fought on the same weekend because it symbolizes the divide that currently exists in the sport. While Haney fought in front of a relatively small gathering in Las Vegas on DAZN, Davis was showcased on a Showtime Pay-Per-View offering in Los Angeles, in front of a much larger throng. Tank is a legitimate draw. But while this event was announced as a sell out by the organizers of the event as a 'sell-out', sections of the arena were curtained off.
A match-up between these two would be a fascinating one, given the contrast of their styles inside the ring and personalities outside of it. But for the time being, they look to be headed in different directions, as they compare gate receipts, and the number of social media followers to gauge their worth. That's today's boxing in a nutshell.
There was a time that this quartet was thought to be the future of the sport. But in retrospect that seemed to not only have been premature, but also misguided. The very essence of today's boxing business kept them from one another and truly creating memorable moments for themselves and the sport. They are no closer to fighting next year, as they were in 2020.
For different reasons, the shine is off all of them to a certain degree.
So what was really found out the past two weeks?
Well, that George Kambosos is the 'emperor' of the division.
And that Vasiliy Lomachenko -- who faces Richard Commey this weekend at the Garden -- might still end up ruling it when it's all said and done.
Thought the bout between Sebastian Fundora and Sergio Garcia was much closer than the scorecards indicated...Speaking of the new generation of boxers, don't forget Shakur Stevenson as he eventually moves up to 135....So there you have it, Mario Cristobal is the new coach at 'the U'. That's all I need as far as Christmas goes.... I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....