BOXING

Gervonta Davis Now Sole Recognized WBA Lightweight Titlist; Haney Removed As ‘Super’ Champ

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The new year has begun with one less WBA belt in existence.

Devin Haney was formally removed as WBA ‘Super’ lightweight champion in the sanctioning body’s latest ratings update which published Tuesday. Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis is now the sole recognized WBA titleholder at the weight, having previously held WBA ‘Regular’ status.

The move was expected, when Haney (31-0, 15KOs) declared in late November that he was prepared to abandon his unified lightweight championship to fully compete at junior welterweight. The announcement was made prior to his WBC 140-pound title win over Regis Prograis. Haney delivered a tour-de-force performance atop a December 9 DAZN Pay-Per-View event from Chase Center in his birth town of San Francisco, California.

Despite his prior declaration, Haney was still the recognized WBA ‘Super’ lightweight champion as of the December 1 WBA rankings and headed into his fight versus Prograis.

Baltimore’s Davis (29-0, 27KOs) has yet to publicly comment on his newfound status as full titleholder. The only recent round of news involving the two-division titlist and boxing superstar was his recent conversion to Islam and that he chose the name Abdul Wahid (“Servant of The One”) upon his acceptance of Allah.

Monday’s development barely changes things for Davis, whose current title reign dates back to a December 2019 twelfth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa. The only real change is the absence of a primary title ahead of his belt, which means he is free to further unify the division if that is the road he chooses to travel. The only other active lightweight titlist is Shakur Stevenson, who claimed the vacant WBC belt in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Edwin De Los Santos last November 16 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gervonta Davis Now Sole Recognized WBA Lightweight Titlist; Haney Removed  As 'Super' Champ - Boxing News

The IBF and WBO belts are both currently vacant. The IBF belt will iikely be at stake in a proposed Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos fight targeted for this spring. Denis Berinchyk would then become the leading candidate to fight for the vacant WBO title versus an opponent to be determined.

Davis has not fought since a seventh-round knockout of Ryan Garcia (24-1, 20KOs) last April 22 at T-Mobile Arena. The bout was fought at a 136-pound catchweight in a non-title fight, with Davis’ WBA title not at stake.

It mattered little to the masses; the fight sold a reported 1.2 million pay-per-view units and generated an estimated $22.8 million live gate atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View that served as the highest grossing event of 2023.

Davis last defended his WBA title in a stoppage win over previously unbeaten WBA junior lightweight titlist Hector Garcia after nine rounds. Garcia (no relation to Ryan) moved up in weight to unsuccessfully challenge Davis last January 6 at MCI Center in Washington, D.C.

No decision was yet made by the WBA as to whether Davis will be ordered to make a mandatory title defense; his last such obligation came in a May 2021 knockout win over then-unbeaten Rolando Romero.

Isaac Cruz and William Zepeda—a pair of contenders from Mexico—are the highest-ranked WBA lightweight contenders. Both have frequently expressed an interest in facing Davis.

Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia confirm fight for April 22 in Las Vegas as  pair put their unbeaten records on the line | Boxing News | Sky Sports

Cruz has been teased as a leading candidate to next face Davis. Such a fight would represent a rematch to their December 2021 meeting, won by Davis via unanimous decision which snapped his sixteen-fight knockout streak. Cruz has since won three in a row, including a unanimous decision over Giovanni Cabrera last July 29 in Las Vegas.

Zepeda is due to fight in the first quarter of 2023, though an opponent was not yet identified as this goes to publication. The 27-year-old southpaw earned knockout victories over Jaime Arboleda and Merctio Gesta for his two bouts in 2023.

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