Devin Haney’s Class Is the Difference in WBC Lightweight Title Defense
Undefeated WBC Lightweight champion Devin Haney retained his title with a wide unanimous decision versus a determined Joseph Diaz Jr. inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena live on DAZN
LAS VEGAS (December 4, 2021) — Devin Haney entered his fourth defense of his WBC Lightweight title against 2012 Olympian Joseph Diaz Jr. with serious questions looming. The 23-year old Las Vegas resident showed his mettle over the 12 rounds, and in the end his skill set secured a unanimous decision on the three scorecards.
Haney boxed well enough to earn a decision, unanimously, with cards of 117-112 in the opinion of two judges, and then 116-112. Diaz fought well, but he just didn’t create the openings needed to truly make things interesting.
Haney controlled most of the fight, but he also exhibited his resilience in the moments where Diaz found his greatest success. Unfortunately, the Olympian wasn’t able to ever go on a lengthy run and make the outcome more suspenseful.
The two fighters met center-ring and Diaz studied a little bit longer than expected. Haney mixed up his jab, sometimes using it as a part of his defense, at other times to set up his right hand to the body. Diaz, in his southpaw stance, stood in and placed a couple of right hands to the champion’s body.
Diaz started quicker in Round 2. He closed the distance walking forward behind a high guard. Haney punched where he saw openings, with mixed success. Diaz settled into the fight better, but the round was somewhat evenly fought.
Haney moved back outside in Round 3. He left his left hand out there to either disrupt Diaz’s objectives, or set-up his own offense on the shorter fighter.
Into the fourth round Haney’s best punch remained the right hand to the body. Diaz stepped forward and landed his best punch. – a flush left hand. As the 2012 Olympian and former Featherweight champion picked it up, Haney looked to stick to his strengths.
Haney chopped away at Diaz’s body with his right hand early in Round 5. Diaz responded with his own body work at the 1:50 mark. The champion operated from outside the majority of the round and kept the challenger at bay.
Haney’s focus to the body remained in Round 6. Diaz continued inching forward. The two fighters punched with each other. They touched gloves in passing at the end of the round, having kept it close.
The fighters exchanged without concern over the first half of Round 7. Diaz got off some of his best offense. Haney stayed in the pocket in attempt to convince the judges he’d won the round.
Haney relied on his size advantage and boxing to shut down Diaz through most of Round 8. With rounds likely going to Haney, Diaz continued to look for moments to score in the ninth. Haney scored with a short left hand inside. Both fighters had their moments in the round, but Haney was still able to get to the distance that suited his length best.
Haney closed out Round 10 like the better fighter. Diaz just struggled to keep pace with the champion. Haney’s mix of skills and advantages continued in the 11th.
Diaz opened the 12th and final round with urgency, but it didn’t look like a stoppage was forthcoming. He landed a bigger punch before the end of the first minute. Haney didn’t get on his bike. By the final minute the champion was pushing forward looking for get-back. Haney closed the round coming forward and pushing Diaz back. Diaz likely didn’t do enough to truly change the outcome of the fight.
All images by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom