JOSEPH DIAZ was meant to be fighting Ryan García. But with a hand injury ruling out the Golden Boy star it was natural to put him in with Matchroom’s rising American hope Devin Haney. The two will box on Saturday (December 4) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

It’s a good, high level lightweight fight. Haney, ranked fourth by BN, is looking to solidify his standing in the world. Haney is only 23 years old but, after beginning his career with a sequence of low key bouts in Mexico, he’s amassed a 26-0 (15) record and recently has stepped up his competition. Last year he outpointed Yuriorkis Gamboa, long past his best, and in March secured his most significant win to date when he beat Jorge Linares over 12 rounds. Linares has been a superb fighter over the years but at 36 he is reaching the end of his career. It was a fight in which Haney looked excellent at times as he moved off behind quality jabs and cracked Linares with fine hooks. But the veteran still stung him, shaking the American up with a few warnings shots.

Diaz is a different kind of test. His age is not a factor. He is seasoned but insists he is in his prime. His only defeat came against Gary Russell Jnr and his victory over Tevin Farmer, for an IBF super-featherweight belt, is his signature win. He’s only had one bout at lightweight but that was a good win too over Javier Fortuna, enough to get Diaz into the world top 10 (he’s ranked by BN at nine).

“I always fought those top tier contenders. Devin Haney, he’s a young fighter, he’s a hungry fighter and he has a lot of experience,” Diaz said. “I just feel like he doesn’t have the experience that I have. I feel like that’s going to be the key factor to my victory.”

“I got all the skills and all the resume,” he added. “I’m a 2012 Olympian and I’ve fought all these tough fighters already.

“He’s going to bring out the best of me and I’m going to bring out the best of him. At the end of the day I know what I’m about and I know there’s a lot at stake for myself… I’m just going to f**k him up.”

Haney looks big at the weight though and Diaz has spent much of his career in lighter divisions. It’s easy to see that rapid jab and his handspeed bamboozling Diaz over the course of a long fight. The pick is for Haney to pick up another points win but look smooth in the process.

“Skills pay the bills,” Haney insists. “I feel like we had to corner him to make him take the fight and all these other guys [at lightweight] the same thing. They know my skillset and they know how much I bring to the table.

“I can’t overlook Jo Jo Diaz… I do feel like he is in the prime of his career so it won’t take nothing away from my victory when I win.

“I’ve been seeing guys come at me and trying to do everything they can to win forever now. I’ve always been a slick boxer, I’ve always had skills,” he added. “I do feel like his style will be made for me.

“He can’t outbox me, he can’t outbang me. I just feel like there’s nothing that he can do.”

The WBC lightweight belt awarded to Haney will be on the line.

Devin Haney
Melina Pizano/Matchroom.

On the undercard, women’s welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill was meant to be defending against Victoria Noelia Bustos. But she has had a last minute change of opponent forced on his, with Kandi Wyatt coming in. Wyatt has lost her last two bouts, including a 2020 contest against Kali Reis. In all likelihood McCaskill win this inside the distance.

Filip Hrgović will be a force at heavyweight. It’s important that he gets a run out before the end of the year though don’t expect Emir Ahmatovic to put up much resistance. Prospects Alexis Espino, Marc Castro and Austin Williams will also box while flyweight contender Ricardo Sandoval also appears.

The Verdict Haney must win with a shot at new world champion, George Kambosos Jnr, suddenly in the offing. DAZN televise.