Hurtful Devin Haney beats Regis Prograis to claim WBC 140lbs title

Devin Haney beat Regis Prograis via unanimous decision to win the WBC super lightweight title and make his finest statement as a professional. 

On the occasion of his first fight at 140lbs he consistently made a proven opponent look one-dimensional to dethrone him as champion, and to the extent he also showed how much making the lightweight limit perhaps held him back.

With the additional five pounds in weight he proved his most destructive to date, often hurting Prograis, dropping him in the third and ultimately, at San Francisco’s Chase Center, becoming a world champion at a second weight.He was awarded three scores of 120-107 by the three ringside judges, having been so dominant that he even challenged Teofimo Lopez’s status as the division’s number one.

The 34-year-old Prograis had appeared at risk of being stopped as early as the second, when having already lost the opening round and at the cost of swelling by his right eye he was already starting to look beaten up.

He was more effectively cutting down the ring than in June against Danielito Zorrilla, but unlike against Zorrilla he was repeatedly punished when he did. The noticeably smaller fighter against the former undisputed champion, he absorbed successive left hands to the body, and in a passage that in so many ways came to define their fight swung and fell short with a wild left hand and was punished when Haney countered with a left.

Haney, 25, was quickly dictating the range at which they fought, but, after long being accused of lacking power, then dropped the defending champion with a straight right hand. Prograis quickly returned to his feet and nodded in acknowledgement of his opponent’s success; when he then again fell short with a punch and Haney smiled, it was tempting to conclude they were both realising he was out of his depth.

Prograis’ bottom lip was by then also swelling up, and it would swell further as a consequence of the consistency of Haney’s timing and his jab. During the fifth his left eye also started to swell, and in the sixth, having also been hurt with an uppercut, his legs buckled following a left-right combination that sufficiently hurt him that for one of the few occasions that evening he resisted attempting to move in close. 

From the conclusion of the eighth it would have been wise for his respected trainer Bobby Benton to consider rescuing him from further punishment, but he instead bravely – as has come to be expected of him – chose to fight on. 

Haney, aware he was on course for so one-sided a victory, eased off somewhat from the 10th, perhaps showing mercy to an opponent he regardless respected. By the final bell the scorecards that followed had rarely seemed more inevitable; confirmation imminently followed that the mature, patient and improving Haney had won every round. 

It’s not unthinkable that Prograis might next fight Liam Paro, who stopped Montana Love 109 seconds into the sixth round. Paro had been scheduled to challenge Prograis until an Achilles injury forced his withdrawal and he was replaced by Zorrilla. He was starting to outwork Love when, with little warning, a left uppercut to the chin sent Love backwards and to the canvas. Love has been accused of lacking heart but he returned to his feet, was almost immediately knocked down again by another left hand, returned to his feet once more and sought to survive until the referee Thomas Taylor stepped in. Andy Cruz earlier demonstrated his vast potential as a professional when he stopped the little-known Jovanni Straffon, 30, inside three rounds. The Cuban lightweight’s reputation as among the finest of amateurs demands that he shows the ability to eventually compete with Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Vasyl Lomachenko at the top of his division and, aged 28 and on the occasion of his second fight he demonstrated that one day he might.

After a convincing opening round the finish should have followed in the second. A succession of right uppercuts and straight rights repeatedly hurt his Mexican opponent who, though admirably determined to remain on his feet, should have been rescued by the referee Edward Collantes or his corner. They both instead recklessly allowed him to fight on into the third, in which the inevitable further punishment forced Collantes’ intervention after 53 seconds. 

Ebanie Bridges lost her IBF bantamweight title fight with Miyo Yoshida of Japan. The Australian ultimately deserved little more than the 91-99, 97-93, 99-91 scores awarded in favour of her classy opponent.