A lot has been made of Devin Haney stepping up to a new level on Saturday, when he defends his WBC lightweight title against Jorge Linares.
But not much of it has really come from the side of Linares (47-5, 29 KO), the 35-year-old Venezuelan veteran and multiple-time world champion. It seems most of the conversation has been about how Haney will do with Linares, and not so much how Linares will do with Haney.
“It’s a big fight and a new challenge for me,” said Linares. “I have a lot of respect for Devin. He’s a young guy, a world champion, but on Saturday the respect goes, and I am ready for an amazing fight, and I hope he’s ready, too.
“He knows who he is fighting, a four-time world champion. I have a lot of experience and that’s the most important thing in this fight to win the fight. He doesn’t have that. He has talent, he has youth and hunger, and the belt.”
How to Watch Haney vs Linares
Haney (25-0, 15 KO) has earned respect in that he passes the eye test for a boxer with real skills, athleticism, enough power that you can’t just ignore that facet of his game, and a level head in the ring. But his opposition has left many questions, and Linares believes as most do that this is a serious step up for the 22-year-old.
“A fight with me is a different level. I can show so many styles, I’m naturally fast and strong, I don’t have a lot of KOs, but he knows I can punch,” Linares said. “I think he will run all night, but I will be waiting for him, I will follow him.
“If he wants to fight inside, I am ready for him. He’s going to have big problems on Saturday night, he knows I can do everything, and he knows I have the timing to put him down.”
For what it’s worth, Haney has generally expressed great respect for Linares, and has openly said this is the biggest test of his pro career to date. It’s been a pretty respectful build between two fighters who have enough skills to put on a very high-level fight.