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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Chris Mannix

Why More Fighters Should Follow the Lead of Devin Haney

Ten rounds while gearing up to watch boxing on three continents this weekend …

10. Devin Haney returns Saturday to Australia to take on George Kambosos Jr. in a contractually obligated rematch, and I find myself wondering: Why can’t more fighters be like Haney? Earlier this year Haney split from promoter Eddie Hearn in order to get the opportunity to face Kambosos, who Haney beat last June to become the undisputed 135-pound champion. Haney is heavily favored in the rematch—for which Haney will earn $4 million, sources familiar with the contract told SI—and if he wins lucrative, resume burnishing showdowns with Vasyl Lomachenko and Shakur Stevenson are waiting in 2023. Or equally high-profile fights at 140-pounds. As many of boxing’s top stars sit idle, Haney, 23, has been active, cashing seven-figure checks and collecting hardware. If more fighters operated like Haney, boxing would be in a much better place.

Haney returns to the ring Saturday, setting an example for fighters across the sport.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

9. Call me crazy, but I’m optimistic that a deal gets done to match Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis in December or January. Representatives for Davis and Garcia have been swapping proposals, and I believe they are getting close on key issues, including money and weight. Distribution remains the biggest hurdle. Davis is aligned with Showtime. Garcia fights on DAZN. Can the two networks reach an agreement that satisfies both? Stay tuned.

8. I’m less enthusiastic about the chances we see Errol Spence and Terence Crawford share the ring. At least not anytime soon. The Nov. 19 date is gone. And while many financial hurdles have been cleared, the two sides seem stuck on how to get past the last few. One source familiar with the talks described Crawford’s camp as “dug in.” I don't expect anyone to give up but the longer this drags out, the more likely Spence, who has the option of facing Keith Thurman in a long-simmering grudge match, grows impatient enough to, at least temporarily, move on.

7. Whether or not you believe Deontay Wilder is a Hall of Famer, there is no question that the next couple of years are important ones. Wilder’s five-year reign as WBC heavyweight champion was solid, highlighted by two wins over Luis Ortiz, but Wilder was unable to secure some big fights (Wladimir Klitschko, Anthony Joshua) and the ones he did, against Tyson Fury, he couldn’t win. As Wilder begins this next chapter—starting Saturday against Robert Helenius—he will again have the chance to make some big fights, from Andy Ruiz to Joshua to potentially a fourth fight with Fury. Here’s hoping Wilder aggressively pursues them.

Wilder begins his next chapter Saturday in a must-win bout against Helenius.

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

6. It’s been more than a week since the Conor Benn-Chris Eubank Jr. fight was scrapped and still no explanation from Benn for how a fertility drug got into his system. Meanwhile, The Daily Mail is reporting that there is an investigation into Benn potentially testing positive for the same drug before a previous fight. Yikes.

5. Speaking of Eubank Jr.—how about a matchup with Gennadiy Golovkin? Eubank has won six fights in a row since a decision defeat to George Groves at super middleweight in 2018 and has been vocal about his desire to fight for a middleweight title—and to face Golovkin. Golovkin still has two 160-pound belts and intends to defend them. A GGG-Eubank fight is a marketable one in the UK. Golovkin has fought once there, in 2016, when he knocked Kell Brook out in the fifth round.

4. Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall top Saturday’s all-women’s card in London but the co-main event could steal the show. The bad blood between Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner has been spilling over for weeks. The two had to be separated at a recent Sky Sports interview and again at a press conference. This is the kind of fight that could have—and probably should have—headlined its own show. The winner will claim three belts in the 130-pound division and bragging rights in a surprisingly nasty rivalry.

3. Joseph Diaz-William Zepeda has Fight of the Year potential. The two lightweights, scheduled to meet in San Diego on Oct. 29, are both high-volume punchers with sturdy chins. This could be a rock ‘em, sock ‘em robot kind of fight.

2. Boxing writer Michael Montero recently tweeted a list of the top fighters with just one fight this year and it is a long one. Boxing is plagued with many problems, but the fact that fighters spend more time battling on social media and YouTube than in the ring is the biggest one.

1. Otto Wallin, who is reportedly in the mix for a fight against Anthony Joshua, is a credible comeback fight for AJ. If Joshua can beat Wallin, a rematch with Dillian Whyte remains a huge fight domestically. After that, a showdown with Tyson Fury—who could be the undisputed heavyweight champion if he can get past Oleksandr Usyk—would once again be the most marketable fight in boxing. The climb back to the top won’t be easy for Joshua, but if he can pick up a couple of wins, it won’t be long before he gets there. 

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