Devin Haney steps out of the shadow of Teofimo Lopez following the latter’s dethroning of Vasyl Lomachenko two weeks ago.
Haney had chased that privilege himself but Loma’s promotors at Top Rank elected to take on Lopez instead.
No disrespect to Lopez, who fought brilliantly, but given Loma’s lacklustre display Haney will have been screaming inside at the opportunity missed.
Haney’s date with Yuriorkis Gamboa in Miami is an opportunity to showcase his gifts in a division packed with talent, including Ryan Garcia, who he beat as an amateur, Gervonta Davis and Luke Campbell.
Haney is obviously a talented fighter. He can box and fight. He is crammed into the weight, but is still a baby.
He is up against an old man in Gamboa, who, though still high class, is not big enough to trade above super featherweight.
Like many of his Cuban brothers who defected, Gamboa left a lot of himself behind in the amateur code.
When they turn over they discover much of their physicality was spent in 3 x three-minute round environment.
Besides there has to be a question mark over a 38-year-old who won flyweight gold in Athens 16 years ago and turned pro in 2007, especially after the awful Achilles injury suffered against Davis last December.
Hopefully Gamboa will be able to interrogate Haney properly. As he showed against Davis he knows his way around a ring and has lost only three times.
Lopez knocked a big hole in the division with the downing of Lomachenko, who it appears had difficulty with that shoulder again.
Loma was holding back throughout the fight. He could not throw punches with his usual venom and did not win a round in the first half of the fight.
Ultimately this is a young man’s game. Lopez is 23, Garcia 22, Davis 25. Haney, who turns 22 next week, is waiting for his breakout moment.
The big fights are out there but they might not happen at lightweight. Both Haney and Lopez are talking about going to 140.
Neither will fill out until they are 27, 28. At 5ft 8ins both are big for the weight and ambitious. I’m not sure we’ll see Lopez fight at lightweight again.
So this a chance for Haney to really shine and to whip up those rivalries.
He will want to get the job done quicker than Terence Crawford (9) and Davis (12).
I’d be surprised if he doesn’t finish it by half way.