By Jake Donovan
Devin Haney is ready for a homecoming—with or without the benefit of being part of a Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez fight week.
Plans remain on course for the unbeaten lightweight contender to return to the ring on September 13 in his adopted Las Vegas hometown for his next fight. Barring a drastic change in plans, it will come versus Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev in a lightweight title eliminator.
“Devin will be fighting at home next up,” promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed with BoxingScene.com. “He’ll be facing the kid from Russia (Abdullaev) the night before Canelo’s fight in Las Vegas.”
The September 14 date is reportedly set in stone for Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) according to Golden Boy Promotions, although an opponent has yet to be established along with the additional tease of the event taking place in Texas rather than Las Vegas.
Regardless of his plans, the blueprint for Haney’s future includes fighting at home while building towards his first career title fight.
“We’ve begun to do it with (super featherweight titlist) Tevin Farmer in Philadelphia, and now with (unbeaten middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade in Providence,” Hearn notes of the importance of developing a local fan base. “Devin is an extraordinary fighter and a remarkable young man, just 20 years old. He’s the complete package and will be a huge hit in Las Vegas, and even in the (California Bay Area) where he’s originally from.”
Haney (22-0, 14KOs) has fought just twice before in Las Vegas, representing his first fights in the United States after having spent his first four pro bouts in Mexico. The undefeated rising contender was promoting his own career in recent years before joining forces with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA earlier this year.
The union was officially blessed with his DAZN debut this past May, commemorating the moment with a highlight reel knockout of Antonio Moran. Prior to the event, Hearn’s plan was to next push him towards a vacant title fight with another Matchroom boxer, 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and current top contender Luke Campbell of England.
Campbell will instead face unified lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko, who successfully petitioned the World Boxing Council (WBC) to compete for its vacant title. With that ruling came the decision to bring Haney home for his next fight, where a win over Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs) will make him the mandatory challenger and in a position to challenge the Lomachenko-Campbell winner.
“Devin is a very big lightweight and as young as he is, we don’t believe he’ll be at the weight much longer,” suggests Hearn. “He wants to win his first world title at lightweight, so the hope is to get him there in his next 2-3 fights before eventually moving up in weight.”
The title eliminator on its own is a big moment in Haney’s career. It will be even bigger should Alvarez land on both an opponent and a confirmed location in Las Vegas for his next fight. The media attention in town for the Mexican Independence Day-themed boxing weekend will only further magnify Haney’s first hometown headliner.
Even if Alvarez plays a wild card and takes his act to Texas—or doesn’t fight at all on the weekend—plans still remain very much in place to establish the next big draw in Vegas.
“Either way, Devin’s next fight will take place in Las Vegas, there’s no question,” insists Hearn. “I’m not part of Canelo’s team but every indication we’ve gotten is that he will be fighting September 14 in Las Vegas. If not, we’re still moving forward with plans to have Devin fight at home. He is the next big star in boxing.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: JakeNDaBox