A win by Devin Haney over Zaur Abdullaev on Sept. 13 makes him the mandatory challenger for WBC lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
But will the rising star call his shot to the guy some boxing pundits feel is the pound-for-pound king if he gets the job done over Abdullaev?
Haney's promoter at Matchroom Boxing, Eddie Hearn, says his fighter will do so even though Lomachenko is likely to take on the winner of the possible fight between IBF lightweight champ Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) on Dec. 14 for the undisputed lightweight title.
A bout would then be unlikely to occur until the middle of 2020. Hearn believes it's smart for Haney to make the callout now to keep his name in Lomachenko's consciousness.
“We’ve gotta put the pressure on [Lomachenko],” Hearn told BoxingScene.com. “What we’ve gotta do is make sure Devin Haney’s a big enough name for that fight to make sense for Lomachenko. You know?
"But Devin’s not gonna be at 135 forever. He’s 20 years old. And he’s got a really tough fight in two weeks against Abdullaev. I mean, it’s not gonna be an easy fight.
“But we’ll see how he gets on in that. And he’s gonna call Lomachenko’s name. You know, he’s gonna be mandatory for Lomachenko, if he beats [Abdullaev]. So, you’ve gotta call the name, you’ve gotta push for that fight, and then, after he’s won the undisputed championship, we’ll see if he takes it.”
There's always the chance of Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) beating Abdullaev and Lomachenko taking care of the Commey-Lopez winner and the clash still not happening because Lomachenko doesn't want to fight the 20-year-old. If that is the case, Lomachenko would be stripped of his belt.
“Eventually, he’s got no choice but to vacate [if he doesn’t fight Haney],” Hearn said. “But, you know, we’ll see. Look, Devin’s gotta win in a couple weeks and we’ll go from there.”