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Devin Haney Faces WBC Deadline: Defend Against Shakur Stevenson at 135 or Challenge Prograis at 140

Today, the World Boxing Council's (WBC) cut-off date is set for lightweight titlist Devin Haney to confirm whether he'll defend his title against obligatory challenger Shakur Stevenson at 135 or ascend to 140 to contend against WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis.

Devin Haney
Devin Haney

Yesterday, Haney appeared nonchalant regarding the WBC's deadline, casually remarking, “One more day” on social media. This casual attitude suggests Haney may not be concerned about retaining the WBC belt. He might reason that even if stripped of his WBC lightweight title, he would still secure a hefty payday through an upcoming fight. So, does Haney have a lucrative match lined up?

Speculations are rife that Haney might be preparing for a showdown with Teofimo Lopez or Gervonta Davis, potentially explaining his laid-back response to the WBC's deadline. What's clear is that Haney seems to be avoiding the risk associated with defending his WBC mandatory against Shakur (20-0, 10 KO), likely due to the high risk and lower financial return.

Haney might also request the WBC Franchise designation, a label typically granted to champions wanting to sidestep a challenging contender. Akin to the scenario when Canelo Alvarez received the Franchise label years ago, avoiding Jermall Charlo as his WBC mandatory at 160.

With Haney, the possibility of seeking the Franchise designation cannot be ruled out. This would enable him to dodge Shakur while retaining his undisputed champion status. The only potential hiccup could be Shakur being made the WBO mandatory for his belt, but that might not deter him from holding the title long enough to defend it against a different opponent.

According to Mauricio Sulaiman, the WBC president, Friday is the final date for Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) to decide whether to retain his undisputed champion status at 135 for the Shakur fight or challenge Prograis at 140.

The majority of fans speculate that Haney will steer clear of the Shakur fight, forfeit his four lightweight titles, and ascend to 140 to face the ostensibly more manageable Prograis.

Choosing the 34-year-old Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) would be seen as choosing the path of least resistance by Haney, especially considering Prograis's recent lackluster title defense against Danielito Zorrilla.

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