Devin Haney didn’t exactly thrill tonight, but he won a wide decision over Alfredo Santiago to retain the WBC lightweight title at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Haney (24-0, 15 KO) dropped Santiago (12-1, 4 KO) in the fifth, but after Santiago survived that round, he was never in any real trouble again. Haney put this down to a dislocated shoulder suffered in the fight, which would explain why he seemed to go on cruise control late.
Ultimately, he got a clear victory on scores of 120-107 across the board. Bad Left Hook had it slightly closer, at 118-109 for Haney, who at 20 is still one of boxing’s top rising talents, but this fight may have given people some reason to pump the brakes on the hype just a little bit. He’s a very talented fighter, but despite the belt he was given by the WBC, he remains as much a prospect as anything.
Santiago, 25, did present some awkwardness in there, and had a little bit of success early on. But as the fight wore on and it was clear he was out of his depth, it became a lot more about survival, and Haney couldn’t do much to force the issue. Santiago was long and tall, didn’t want to fight inside, and did a good job neutralizing a lot of Haney’s gifts.
Although the fight was booed in the 12th and final round, Haney stayed on message about fighting in front of the “new” audience for the KSI-Logan Paul main event.
“I was very excited, it’s a whole new fan base,”he said. “I feel like I gained a lot from performing here at the Staples Center, and I’m looking forward to coming back here one day.”
Asked about what he wants to do in the new year around the corner, Haney again said he wants to face the top guys, and specifically mentioned Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“In 2020, I want all the top guys. I want to unify,” he said. “Me and Lomachenko can get it on. Any of the beltholders, but we’ll see what Lomachenko does. I’m gonna take a rest. But in 2020, I’m about to strike with a bang.”
Haney was also asked about fellow lightweight youngster Ryan Garcia, who is in the building.
“A lot of boxing fans would love to see that fight, hopefully we can make that fight in 2020 or 2021. I’m ready to make it sooner than later,” Haney said.