Boxing’s lightweight division has officially opened up with news Devin Haney (30-0) has made the call to vacate his belts.
It’s long been expected the undisputed champion at 135-pounds had run his race in the division, and now, on the eve of his WBC super lightweight clash with Regis Prograis (29-1), the 25-year-old has confirmed his decision.
The American’s final bout at lightweight came back in May when he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-3) in a contentious decision to retain all four belts.
On Wednesday, ESPN confirmed Haney would be dropping the belts ahead of his 140-lb debut, which could also be his final fight in that division.
So what does it mean for the future of the lightweight titles?
What does Devin Haney’s decision to vacate lightweight titles mean?
With Haney out of the picture, we can expect the belts at 135-lb to split up, with the picture clearer in some sanctioning bodies than others.
Let’s start with the easiest to work out.
As of earlier this month, Shakur Stevenson (21-0) is the WBC lightweight champion.
The 26-year-old become a three-division world champion when he defeated Edwin De Los Santos in a widely criticised vacant title fight in Las Vegas.
Stevenson came under-fire for his overly cautious approach in a fight which broke records for the fewest punches landed in a 12-round contest.
Haney had already been named “champion in recess” by the WBC prior to Stevenson’s victory.
The undefeated Frank Martin (18-0) is currently the next highest ranked fighter in the WBC rankings and may be first in line for a shot at Stevenson.
The situation with the WBA lightweight strap appears fairly clear on paper.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis (29-0) has held a form of the title since 2019, although it is considered their secondary championship.
Following Haney’s decision, it’s likely Davis will be elevated to full champion.
The 29-year-old hasn’t fought since stopping Ryan Garcia in the seventh round of their non-title bout in April.
Davis has been linked to a rematch with Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz (25-2-1), currently the number one contender with the WBA.
Their first meeting in 2021 ended in a unanimous decision win to Davis.
With no interim or secondary champion, the IBF belt will become vacant following Haney’s decision.
Talks are already well underway for a fight between former champions, and Haney opponents, Kambosos and Lomachenko to meet in 2024.
Understood to be targeted for April in Australia, all signs point to the vacant strap going on the line when the IBF’s number two and three meet.
Kambosos is coming off a majority decision win over Maxi Hughes (26-6-2) in July, while Lomachenko hasn’t fought since the loss to Haney.
Of the four governing bodies, the future of the WBO’s lightweight title is the most murky.
Lomachenko is the current number one contender but appears to be tied up with the Kambosos fight.
Next in line is fellow Ukrainian Ivan Berinchyk (18-0), who could be paired up with third-ranked Cruz for a shot at the vacant belt if the latter’s rematch with Davis doesn’t come to fruition.
Two more Mexicans in Angel Fierro (21-2) and William Zepeda (29-0) make up the rest of the top five with the WBO.
Devin Haney flags potential move to welterweight
If the man himself is to be believed, Haney will just be stopping through at super lightweight.
The undefeated young star takes on Prograis in San Francisco on December 9 and is already suggesting it could be his first and last bout at the weight.
“And after this fight, I look to become a three-division champion and move up to 147, God willing that I’m successful in this fight,” Haney said.
Terence Crawford currently holds three of the four belts at welterweight (the IBF stripped him of their title for failing to fight Jaron “Boots” Ennis) but, like Haney, is expected to move up and vacate the titles.
Should that happen and Haney defeats Prograis, his quest to become a three-weight world champion could be well on track.