It would be safe to say that the current lightweight division, as a whole, has underperformed so far.
Not too long ago, there was talk of the “New Four Kings” of boxing. Emerging young talents Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, and Ryan Garcia were compared to the 80’s “Four Kings”– Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran, and Marvin Hagler. These 20-something boxing stars were considered the future of the sport, with established elite-level pro Vasiliy Lomachenko also in the mix. Fans eagerly awaited the upcoming tussles. With these five fighters, the sport could have mix-and-match mega-fights for years and years.
However, with the exception of Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, who fought in October of 2020, none of these guys have actually fought one another. Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia is still penciled in for the April 15 date, but that’s technically above the lightweight limit and there’s honestly no guarantee that the bout doesn’t get derailed by business issues or outside-the-ring drama. Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko is also still penciled in for May, but May is a long time away.
Bill Haney, trainer and father of Devin Haney, though, is eager to let everyone know that the lightweight division– even as off-kilter as it currently may be– belongs to his son, the unified 4-belt world champ
“The lightweight division is on hostage, and you’re looking at who got the key,” Haney said via social media live stream while observing his son training.
“It will be no dropping of no belts. The only man to defend the undisputed championship of the world. We’re on our second title defense. Everybody else dropped the belt. There will be no dropping any belts.
“The lightweight division. There’s only one guy that has got the key, and in order to get the key, y’all got to come take it because we ain’t giving you s**t. Repeat. Anybody can get it. It’s Devin Haney vs. everybody.
“Repeat, anybody can get it, and we’re not dropping no belts. The lightweight division is on lock, and you’re looking at the man. I repeat, there will only be one lightweight champion in 2023, and you’re looking at him.
“Anybody that wants to be a champion must go through Devin Haney in 2023, and we might think about somebody getting the belt in 2024.”
The elder Haney would then turn to his son.
“Champ, if anyone wants to be a lightweight champ in 2023, who do they got to go through, champ?” he asked Devin.
“You got to go through the undisputed champ,” Devin replied.
“You see, you got to go through the undisputed champ,” added Bill. “Boxing alert. In 2023, the lightweight division is under siege. Bad news.”
Well, the above “alert” carries significant less intrigue in 2023 than it would’ve had two years prior, when the “Four Kings” were all in the same place and seemed to be on a collision course.
Lopez is already competing at junior welterweight. Davis and Garcia are also headed to 140. Even Haney, himself, may soon be ditching his belts for a move up in weight. Lomachenko, meanwhile, may have one foot out the door, especially if he loses to Haney in May. The remaining lightweight stars at the moment, like Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz, William Zepeda, and former 3-belt world champ George Kambosos Jr., lack the high-end ability and overall bankability to be long-term stars in the division.
Of course, Haney, Lopez, Davis, and Garcia could put themselves back on a collision course at junior welterweight. They’re all still 20-something talents with big up sides. But we’ll have to see about all of that.
For now, Bill Haney is right. Devin Haney rules the lightweight world. Hopefully, someone elite soon decides it’s worth the effort to try and dethrone him.