WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney withstood a late rally from Jorge Linares to retain his title by unanimous decision at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas, NV Saturday night.

Scores were 116-112 twice, and 115-113

Haney came out fast in the opening stanza. Linares, 35, stalked and looked to rock. Haney popped fast jabs and combinations. Linares countered with a couple of check hooks. Haney connected with belly shots. His jab was already on point.

In round two, Haney landed a slick combination. An uppercut also scored. Linares connected with a left hook. Haney’s jab continued to pound the face of Linares. Haney [26-0, 15 KOs] ducked away from two wicked left hooks from Linares in round three. He clocked Linares with another uppercut. He was working up and down.

Three rounds in the bank for Haney.

Linares [47-6, 29 KOs] tried to up the ante in round four. He needed to get closer, but the ultra-quick Haney was displaying cat like reflexes. Linares fired his own jab a number of times. Some of them landed. Linares went to the body. Haney, popped four jabs while Linares cracked Haney with a right. Haney went back to working his jab in round five. Linares fired two hooks to the ribs. Haney, fighting in the pocket more than any other fight, landed a sweeping hook to the ribs. Linares ate three more jabs. Both fighters landed hooks at the bell.

Haney stunned Linares with an inside hook in round six. Seconds later a left hook crashed off the chin of Linares. Linares fought back with a hard left and right. Haney walked forward but ran into a huge left. The blow appeared to have no effect on the defending champion. Linares tried to build off the momentum of the previous heat. Haney would have none of it. He went back to work, clipping Linares with lefts and uppercuts.

In round eight, Haney cracked Linares with a hard left hook to the jaw. Loser of five fights by stoppage, Linares was showing good whiskers. Haney connected with four straight right hands. Seconds later, three left jabs. Linares was showing resilience but was being systematically beat down. But there was no quit in him. The former champ flurried in round nine. A few blows landed. Haney landed a sweeping right hand and ducked out of the way of counters from Linares. He did eat an uppercut. And seconds a sharp later, a wicked combination at the bell caused Haney to wobble to his corner.

Haney still didn’t look right in round 11. Linares came out firing. He landed two more right hands. Haney was hanging on. Linares was looking to unleash more right hands. Haney fought back in the last 40 seconds of the round. This time he looked OK as he walked to his corner.

Linares would need a knockout to win. He had hurt Haney in round 10. Could he do it again? Linares came out throwing bombs. Haney fired back. Linares cracked Haney with a right. He jabbed. Haney held on. And held on again as the fans booed.

“I came in and got the win, I’m satisfied,” said Haney. ”I got hit with a good shot.”

Source: John J. Raspanti