Devin Haney showed once again this weekend why he deserves pound-for-pound consideration, while Deontay Wilder’s right hand was back in action, finishing Robert Helenius in Round 1, announcing his return as a top challenger in the division.
After two consecutive stoppage losses to Tyson Fury, Wilder’s future was in doubt. But he showed that he can beat anybody in the division not named Fury. Is a fight against Andy Ruiz Jr. his best next option?
Haney returned to Australia for a rematch against George Kambosos Jr., and the result was the same: another dominant victory by Haney to retain the undisputed lightweight championship. Next could/should be a fight against Vasiliy Lomachenko, but by having all four major titles, Haney’s options are limitless.
Mike Coppinger and Ben Baby react to Haney and Wilder’s victories and what should be next for both of them.
What’s next for Haney after another dominant victory?
Devin Haney proved once again that he’s one of the sport’s elite by easily outboxing George Kambosos Jr. over 12 rounds on Saturday.
The true test of Haney’s greatness, though, lies ahead. And it could come next.
Haney said he’s interested in a fight next year with former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, and there’s a clear path to a deal.
Haney has one fight remaining on his deal with Top Rank and DiBella Entertainment, and Bob Arum’s company is the longtime promoter of Lomachenko. Assuming Lomachenko cruises past Jamaine Ortiz on Oct. 29, as expected, a deal should come into play for Haney-Lomachenko in the spring.
Against Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Haney would have to be at his best, using his ring IQ, footwork and superior size to keep Lomachenko at the end of his jab.
Easier said than done, of course, against a great fighter like Lomachenko, who uses uncanny angles, elite speed and the game’s best footwork to create openings. It’s a can’t-miss fight that could be one of the biggest of 2023.
After he’s done with Lomachenko — assuming a deal is made — Haney is expected to move up to 140 pounds, where he could eventually meet Teofimo Lopez Jr. in another megafight. — Coppinger
Wilder is back and he’s still a must-see fighter
It was vintage Deontay Wilder.
He showed he might be better than everyone else in the world who isn’t named Tyson Fury. A massive one-punch knockout over Robert Helenius firmly confirmed Wilder’s status as a reckoning force in the heavyweight division.
As good as Wilder was throughout his career, including his reign as heavyweight champion, his performances against Fury, specifically in their first and third fights, had shown just how good Wilder was. By pushing Fury to the brink, he boosted his legacy despite two losses and a split-draw in the trilogy with Fury.
Within PBC, where Wilder resides, Andy Ruiz Jr., a former champion, is the lone top heavyweight Wilder hasn’t faced yet. Beyond Ruiz, Oleksandr Usyk, who holds three of the four major belts in the division, and Anthony Joshua, the guy Usyk beat for those titles, are the two big names looming in the sport.
Usyk is promoted by fellow Ukrainian Alexander Krassuyk, while Joshua is repped by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn. Either fight could bring Wilder another massive payday and give him a chance to show just how great he is.
The Fury-Wilder bouts showed fighters from different promotions can get in the ring in the spirit of a massive payday. Wilder’s win over Helenius showed he’s still a must-see attraction. And plenty of people will keep tuning in to see just how great Wilder truly is. — Baby
Where does Kambosos go from here?
Kambosos will always have his victory over Teofimo Lopez Jr. last November in one of the year’s best fights, a win that changed his life and transformed him from an unheralded contender to the ruler of the lightweights.
But after two lopsided losses to Haney, Kambosos finds himself back at the end of the line.
He could use a matchup or two against soft opposition to regain his confidence, and afterward could challenge for a 135-pound title, assuming Haney is no longer champion. But at this juncture, it’s hard to see Kambosos ever recapturing the form he showed against Lopez.
Still, Kambosos remains a recognizable name and is just 29. Perhaps he’ll find himself as a stepping stone to Gervonta Davis or Ryan Garcia in the future, but he could also make for action fights with fellow contenders such as Isaac Cruz, Joseph “JoJo” Diaz Jr. and William Zepeda. — Coppinger
Plant shines, but there are not many options for the former champion at super middleweight
Caleb Plant restarted his career with a win over Anthony Dirrell in the co-main event on the Wilder-Helenius fight card. Given how he was a 1-to-10 favorite over Dirrell, a Plant victory seemed easy to predict. But the tougher task is trying to figure out where Plant goes from here. The Nashville native was coming off a stoppage loss to Canelo Alvarez in Nov. 2021 that gave Alvarez the IBF super middleweight and the undisputed title.
Plant has a major issue. With Alvarez holding all four major belts, there are no belts for anyone to truly chase (not that they would matter, with Alvarez’s status as the division champ cemented).
There seems to be only one option for there to be some movement in the 168-pound division if Alvarez doesn’t surrender his belts. David Benavidez is the WBC’s interim champion. Benavidez, like Plant, is managed by Al Haymon under Premier Boxing Champions umbrella.
After Alvarez beat Gennadiy Golovkin to remain the undisputed super middleweight champ in September, he spoke with disdain about a potential matchup against Benavidez that the latter has wanted for years.
Plant is the WBC’s No. 1 ranked fighter. A matchup between Plant and Benavidez makes too much sense. Theoretically, Alvarez should have to face the winner in order to keep the WBC belt. That assumes a sanctioning body acts rationally, which requires a lot of faith in this sport.
That either gives Plant a reason to face Alvarez again. Or it gives Benavidez even more momentum and creates added public pressure for Alvarez to face Benavidez. — Baby