LAS VEGAS – Gervonta Davis doesn’t consider Devin Haney a real lightweight champion.
Not yet, anyway.
The former junior lightweight champ criticized how Haney became the WBC’s 135-pound title-holder during a lengthy interview with reporters recently at MGM Grand.
“I mean, it’s not his title till he – I’m not taking nothing away from him,” said Davis, who’s the WBC’s No. 1 contender for Haney’s title. “But it’s not his title until he actually fight for it. I don’t care. It could one of y’all he could fight for it. But once he fight for it, then it’s handled. But you can’t just give nobody a title.”
Davis referred to the WBC elevating Haney from its interim lightweight champion to world champion status during its convention two weeks ago in Cancun, Mexico.
The WBC changed Haney’s standing because the Mexico City-based sanctioning organization declared Vasiliy Lomachenko its franchise champion within the 135-pound division. Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) won the then-vacant WBC lightweight title by out-boxing England’s Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) to win a 12-round unanimous decision August 31 at O2 Arena in London.
Haney had hoped to battle Campbell for the WBC lightweight title Mikey Garcia gave up when he jumped up two weight classes to challenge IBF welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. on March 16 in Arlington, Texas. Rather than sanctioning a Haney-Campbell clash, the WBC ordered a Lomachenko-Campbell bout, even though Lomachenko, who owns the WBA and WBO lightweight crowns, wasn’t ranked by the WBC.
Less than two weeks later, the 20-year-old Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) stopped Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev (11-1, 7 KOs) following the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title September 13 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Haney then wanted the WBC to mandate a bout between him and Lomachenko. Instead, the WBC granted Lomachenko the same designation it afforded Canelo Alvarez in the middleweight division four months ago.
Las Vegas’ Haney will make his first defense of the WBC lightweight title Saturday night in Los Angeles. He’ll face the Dominican Republic’s Alfredo Santiago (12-0, 4 KOs) on the Logan Paul-KSI undercard at Staples Center (DAZN; Sky Sports Box Office).
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) is preparing to face Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs) on December 28. They’ll square off in a 12-round lightweight fight Showtime will televise from State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.