Haney holds off Linares to defend lightweight title

By Sports Desk May 29, 2021

Devin Haney survived a late flurry from veteran Jorge Linares to successfully defend his WBC lightweight title, winning by unanimous decision Saturday in Las Vegas. 

The 22-year-old Californian had little trouble through the first nine rounds against the former three-division world champion before Linares did some damage late. 

A hard right in the 10th round left Haney (26-0) wobbly and the effects appeared to carry over into the 11th as Linares (47-6) tried in vain to win it with one punch. 

Haney was able to hold on through 12 rounds, though, winning 116-112 on two judges' scorecards and 115-113 on the other. 

It was the first time in 53 career fights that Linares lost a decision, the 35-year-old Venezuelan's previous defeats all coming by knockout. 

Haney's win could set up a unification showdown with Teofimo Lopez, should the 16-0 IBF, WBO, WBA and The Ring lightweight champion defeat George Kambosos Jr. next month. 

"I want to make the biggest fights happen," Haney told DAZN after the fight. "If Teofimo Lopez is next, let's do it."

On Saturday's undercard, Chantelle Cameron defended her WBC light-welterweight strap with a fifth-round TKO of former world champion Melissa Hernandez. 

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    The wait for a Games gold for the United States men continued on Thursday as a split decision went against Ragan in the featherweight final at the Kokugikan Arena, in a battle of two fighters who have recently left the amateur ranks behind.

    Ragan edged it 29-28 on the scorecards of two judges, but it went against him by the same margin with two others, and a fifth, from Indonesia, scored it 30-27 in favour of Russian Olympic Committee fighter Batyrgaziev.

    Their next meeting could be in a paid contest, given both are making their way in the professional game, and each man said the idea held plenty of appeal.

    "That would be an additional motivation, to meet again as two professionals with my opponent in this final," Batyrgaziev said.

    Ragan agreed, saying: "If that was to happen I really look forward to getting revenge and stuff like that, especially me and him, both being in the final of this Olympics.

    "It would be a big headline and I'm pretty sure that everyone that tuned into the Olympics would want to see that again, especially on a bigger level."

    Dagestan-born Batyrgaziev said of his gold: "This has been my dream since I started training for boxing when I was a child. This has made all the hard work and effort and the discipline I've shown since worth it. It has paid off.

    "I am proud of my home. It deserves to be the home of an Olympic champion and I'll take the gold medal home to my people as I promised them."

    Ragan regretted being unable to be the man to break the US gold drought, with no men's champion since Andre Ward's success at the Athens Olympics, but said silver still gave him some pleasure.

    "Coming from the USA, I was the first professional boxer to compete in the Olympics. I take that and run with it. It was a blessing to be here," he said.

    "I'm glad that I was a professional. A little bit more experience even though I didn't get the gold, but it's all good.

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