The thought among boxing pundits was that Devin Haney needed a signature win on his stellar resume.
Haney got what he needed on Saturday night at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., by defeating Jorge Linares by unanimous decision (116-112, 116-112, 115-113) to retain the WBC lightweight title. DAZN News scored the fight 117-111 for Haney.
But the victory didn't come without adversity for the 22-year-old, who was wobbled by a Linares right hand at the end of the 10th round.
"He hit me with a good shot. I faced adversity, and I got the job done," Haney told DAZN's Chris Mannix during his post-fight interview.
Haney controlled the fight and appeared to be rolling toward a shutout as the quicker, more skilled boxer, when he was buzzed by a short right hand from Linares. The shot had Haney on jelly legs walking back to his corner.
Linares began the 11th round looking to capitalize on the momentum from the previous stanza. The former three-division world champion stunned Haney again, but this time with a left hook. Haney did battle back with an uppercut.
Haney finally got his bearings under him as the 12th round began. Instead of staying in the pocket and trading shots, Haney kept Linares at bay for the final three minutes to retain his WBC belt.
"This is boxing. You're going to get hit with big shots," Haney said about what happened in the 10th round. "But it's about continuing to box smart. I didn't get dropped. I didn't get hurt. At the end of the day, we saw other fighters in the lightweight division get dropped."
The question is what's next for Haney? Unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez said during the week that he'd like to face Haney next for all the gold if he gets past George Kambosos Jr. on June 19.
"If Teofimo Lopez is next, let's do it," Haney said.
"If Teofimo wants to get it next, let's do it for all the belts — the real undisputed."
Here is what happened at Devin Haney vs. Jorge Linares.