What’s Next For Devin Haney After First Career Defeat to Ryan Garcia?

April 21, 2024
1 month
Devin Haney hits the canvas during his defeat to Ryan Garcia

Devin Haney suffered the first defeat of his professional career on Saturday night as the WBC super-lightweight champion went down via a majority decision to long-time rival Ryan Garcia.

In a rivalry that dates back to the amateurs, Haney was a massive favorite to win their first bout in the pro ranks, but the American was sent to the canvas three times by Garcia at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, before the judges awarded the victory to the Californian 112-112, 114-110, 115-109.

Disaster could have struck sooner when Garcia rocked Haney in the first round and had the champion clinging on to avoid the knockdown. While Haney banked more than his fair share of rounds, the power of Garcia ultimately told and once he had him rocked, the latter rounds were won by the challenger.

Despite the loss, Haney retained his WBC world title after Garcia came in way over the 140lbs weight limit as the Californian tipped the scales 3.2lbs too heavy.

What this fight should have taught Haney is that constantly cutting weight to make the super-lightweight limit is not sustainable. His walking weight is thought to be between 160 and 170lbs, so cutting that much weight and still being competitive was going to catch up with him eventually.

It leaves Haney with plenty of decisions to make. Does he return to 140lbs and attempt to unify the decision? Or does he make an immediate move to welterweight?

Only time will tell, but until then, here are five fights that he could take next to get his career back on track.

Sandor Martin

The most obvious next fight is against the WBC’s mandatory challenger Martin, who pushed WBA title holder Teofimo Lopez to a split decision in 2022.

The problem with this bout is that it’s not PPV-worthy. Martin is a game fighter but far from a household name, and with Haney just coming off a defeat, he needs a bigger statement for his next outing.

If the WBC orders the bout, Haney may look at the bigger picture and fight Martin in order to keep his belt, then turn his focus to unification fights.

Teofimo Lopez

If a big PPV fight that Haney wants to get back on track, then a showdown with fellow American and fellow champion Lopez is the one.

Both fighters are two-weight world champions, and both have defeated the great Vasiliy Lomachenko. After avoiding each other in lightweight, the time is right to fight at 140lbs.

WBO holder Lopez fought in February but was unconvincing in his decision win over Jamaine Ortiz, so the New Yorker needs a statement victory almost as much as Haney.

This fight carries enormous risk for both fighters but will guarantee big paydays, and for the winner, an opportunity to become a unified champion.

Subriel Matias

The IBF champion is one of the most avoided fighters in boxing – and for good reason. All of Matias’ 20 victories have come via knockout, with his only defeat coming in a shock loss to Petros Ananyan in 2020.

If Haney has plans to unify the decision, then he will have to face Matias at some point, provided the Cuban comes through his next bout against Liam Paro in his second title defense in June.

The concern would be getting in the ring with another heavy puncher so soon after his experience against Garcia when Haney hit the canvas for the first time in his career.

Isaac Cruz

The third and final holder of the super-lightweight titles, Cruz won the WBA belt with a stunning eighth-round stoppage of Rolly Romero to give his own reputation a huge boost.

‘Pitbull’ could be in line to face WBA interim champion Ismael Barroso next, so it’s unlikely this will be Haney’s next fight. But as a fellow super-lightweight world champion, the Mexican is surely on his radar.

Ryan Garcia rematch

The fight many fans will want to see next is a rematch with Garcia – but this time, at welterweight. Both Garcia and Haney had difficulty making weight, so there’s no chance a rematch would take place at 140.

There is a sense that Haney has unfinished business in the division first, but he will no doubt be desperate for another shot at Garcia.

When he eventually analyses the fight, Haney will see that he dominated plenty of rounds and were it not for the knockdowns and the effects those had on him, he would have been in pole position for victory.

The demand, and therefore the money, will be there to run it back. It will just depend on whether Garcia wants to run the risk.