Two football notes before we get to the main article today:
Tuesday, amid several positive COVID-19 tests within the Cleveland Browns organization, the NFL confirmed that Sunday night’s AFC Wild Card Game between the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will be played on-schedule after it was determined that the positive tests returned by the Browns, head coach Kevin Stefanski chiefly among them, were not the result of a locker room outbreak.
Secondly, College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock mentioned late Tuesday that the CFP intends to hold its National Championship Game between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State on-schedule this Monday despite coronavirus issues within the Ohio State roster.
Onward to today’s focus:
Devin Haney gets two big tests this year:
It was already determined that WBC Lightweight champion Devin Haney (25-0, 15 knockouts) would get at least one mandatory challenger in the new year, that being Javier Fortuna (41-2, 36 knockouts.)
Haney was given Fortuna as a mandatory opponent in the aftermath of Fortuna’s victory against Jesus Cuellar late last year to score the then-vacant WBC Continental Americas Lightweight championship.
However, in the run-up to last Saturday evening’s Golden Boy Boxing main event between Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17 knockouts) and Luke Campbell (20-4, 16 knockouts) for the WBC Interim Lightweight Championship in Dallas, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the winner of that main event would become the first mandatory opponent for Haney.
Garcia would go onto defeat Campbell via seventh-round knockout last Saturday and is now Devin Haney’s first mandatory challenger.
Haney will fight Fortuna after the Garcia bout takes place—if everything goes according to plan.
Eddie Hearn, whose Matchroom Boxing co-promoted last weekend’s Golden Boy card and forecasts the WBC to formally issue the mandatory challenge to Garcia in the near future, said the following after Garcia’s knockout:
“You just boxed a final eliminator to fight [Haney]—fight will now be ordered. Great fight.”
Haney on Garcia:
Champion Haney had this to say about his future adversary in the ring:
“It was a good fight. He went in there, he got the win, but of course he got knocked down and showed some flaws, but he also showed that he had heart, and he got the win.”
At this point, it remains to be seen if the Haney vs. Garcia contest will occur later on in 2021, to which Haney responded with:
“Hopefully! That’s a fight I would love to make. He’s my mandatory now. We’re going to take the things we’ve got to do and fight my mandatory, and we’ve got to see if it happens.”
Regardless of when Haney vs. Garcia will happen, it looks to be a brilliant contest.
If Ryan Garcia is the same gladiator against Devin Haney that he was as he stalked to the ring last weekend and stopped Luke Campbell in the seventh round, it’ll be a long night for Haney.
On the reverse side, however, if Devin Haney is able to systematically wear down Ryan Garcia in their fight and score a couple of knockdowns while getting Garcia on the ropes, it’s going to be a test for Garcia.
It’ll be a test of strength for both men, that’s for certain.