There’s a valuable lesson learned in defeat. Even for those watching.
That especially bodes true for Devin Haney and Gervonta Davis. And it should for Josh Taylor as well.
Every young world champion that saw Teofimo Lopez suffer his first pro loss and relinquish his unified lightweight crown to George Kambosos Jr. in a stunning upset this past weekend should have been put on notice.
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A mandatory challenger is never to be overlooked and Kambosos reinforced that notion in such a major way that it has reverberated through boxing, creating a ripple effect.
In the immediate aftermath of Lopez’s loss, Haney took to his Twitter account, verbally jabbed the former champ and let it be known to the masses that he will not suffer the same fate in putting his WBC lightweight title on the line against his own mandatory challenger Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, live on DAZN.
100% focused on JoJo Diaz! You guys will see Dec 4th! #ImReady— Devin Haney (@Realdevinhaney) November 28, 2021
Davis, 27, was supposed to fight mandatory challenger Rolando Romero but a series of abuse allegations against the latter had Isaac Cruz taking his place. Instead, Davis will defend his WBA “Regular” lightweight world championship against Cruz at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
“You just got to be focused in this sport and whatever comes with it just be ready,” Davis told Fight Hub TV over the weekend.
“Sometimes people get big-headed,” Davis tacked on, referring to Lopez after upsetting Vasiliy Lomachenko for the unified world titles last October.
Taylor defends his undisputed junior welterweight championship against Jack Catterall at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland all the way on Feb. 22 but can learn from Lopez’s loss, too.
Defeating a mandatory challenger can never be viewed as merely a formality — the way Lopez was guilty of, even predicting a first-round knockout only to nearly suffer the reverse fate before falling by unanimous decision. For a mandatory challenger prepares himself or herself to deliver the fight of a lifetime.
A world champion being goaded into looking ahead by the media never helps with focus on the task at hand, either. At one point, Lopez mentioned a mega bout with Taylor, Haney or Davis in 2022 ... before throwing hands with Kambosos. Well, that backfired with the gritty Australian making sure of it.
A different game plan and mental outset and Lopez could’ve very well remained undefeated with all his hardware intact. Instead, he’s serving as a stinging reminder to Haney with Diaz, “Tank” Davis with Cruz and even Taylor with Catterall — a mandatory challenger should always be handled with caution.