Devin Haney was just a bit too much overall for a game and tough Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr in tonight’s DAZN main event, winning a clear and deserved unanimous decision to retain his WBC lightweight title.
Haney (27-0, 15 KO) took the fight and kept his belt on scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 117-111. Bad Left Hook had it 116-112 on two separate unofficial score cards. The champ closed as a -600 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Diaz (32-1-1, 15 KO) had good moments of success in this fight, particularly in the fourth, seventh, 11th, and 12th rounds, the last of which he was definitely going for broke and aiming for a knockout, which he clearly needed, and he did buzz Haney a bit in that round, too.
But on the whole, Diaz just wasn’t able to produce the sort of work rate he would have needed to overcome the large difference in natural size — Haney is a true lightweight, Diaz is really a natural featherweight — and the fact that Haney is just faster than Diaz, with the hands but particularly with the feet.
At times, Diaz did some really good body work, but Haney should be credited for doing even better body work, as well as fighting better at distance, which was expected.
And while it may have been a clear and deserved victory for Haney, Diaz was competitive throughout, too. He was never fully dominated outside of the first round, where he seemed to be feeling Haney out a bit, and he didn’t let Haney coast at all. Diaz may not have thrown enough, but maybe that should be credited to Haney more than blamed on Diaz.
“The plan was to keep him at bay, work my combinations off my jab, and that’s what I did,” Haney said after the fight. “I knew he wasn’t going to go away. I hit him with some good shots, and he kept picking it up as the fight went on. He’s a true champion, and he gave me a good fight. He said he was going to bring the dog out of me, and that’s exactly what he did.”
“He hit me with some good shots. They say I don’t have a chin, but I guess I showed it in this fight,” Haney added when asked if he was hurt in the fight.
Attention then turned to George Kambosos Jr, who was ringside, and Haney says he’s fully open to the fight.
“Come on and let’s do it for all the belts,” Haney offered. “The real undisputed, let’s do it next. I’ll go to Jupiter if I’ve got to, I think it’s a great fight for all the belts. He put on a great performance against Teofimo Lopez and I think the fans would love to see it. There would be no more disputed as to who’s the WBC champion. Let’s do it next. It’s very important. 135 is tough for me to make, I only want to make it for the big fights, and that’s the biggest fight for me in the division. I want to do it next.”
Diaz didn’t have any big protests about the loss.
“I thought it was a good fight,” he said, thanking what was a pro-Diaz crowd for their support. “I thought it was closer than (the judges had it), but it is what it is. I’ll go back to the drawing board and get stronger. This is what I do, man. I want to challenge the best and if I end up coming up short, I’m just going to progress and get better.”
Breaking down the fight, Diaz told Chris Mannix, “I was trying to find my distance and timing, because I knew he was opening up when he threw his right hand, and I was trying to time him with my uppercuts to the body. I landed it several times, and then I tried to get in but, I mean, he’s a smart fighter. He’d go into the clinch, let us break, and then get out again and use his distance and range. He had a game plan.”
Diaz definitely felt he had Haney hurt in the final round. “I did. I felt like I had him hurt, a little rocked and stunned. The fuckin’ Vaseline got in my eyes and I was trying to clean that up so I could land a clean shot again, but it was blurry and I didn’t want to get caught with a clean shot, because he’s a very smart counter-puncher, too.”
Diaz said he still wants to chase more big fights and titles at 135 lbs. “I belong in there with the best, and I’m going to keep on challenging the best until my career’s over.”