WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney said he doesn't believe his mandatory challenger, Ryan Garcia, is willing to fight him next, and he's begun shifting his attention to a potential bout with unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez for all the belts in the division.
Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) is coming off a seventh-round knockout of Luke Campbell on Saturday in a WBC title eliminator, and the WBC is expected to order a Haney-Garcia title bout next. But Garcia, 21, has other plans. With Haney ringside at Saturday's fight, Garcia instead called out lightweight star Gervonta "Tank" Davis, saying, "I want to fight Tank. I know people are worried about that, but I'm ready."
Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) and Garcia both are bigger stars with larger fan bases, so their eyes are on making a lot of money facing each other. They've called each other out aggressively over several platforms in recent days, and both have said they want that fight next. So that leaves Haney, the only one of the three with a primary lightweight belt, as the odd man out.
"It didn't surprise me. I knew that he really didn't want to fight me and he wasn't going to fight me," Haney told ESPN on Thursday. "I knew that he would go a different direction than fighting me."
The 22-year-old Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) plans to return to the ring in April, with Javier Fortuna currently as his secondary mandatory, assuming Garcia opts out of the fight as Haney expects. Jorge Linares would be next in line if Fortuna is not willing or able to take the fight.
But Haney has bigger plans in 2021, which he hopes includes a bout with Lopez, possibly in the summer, and a move up to the junior welterweight division.
"The main fight I want to be made is with Teofimo Lopez for all the belts, for the real undisputed king," Haney said. "135 is not easy for me to make at all. I've been saying this for a while now. It's hard to make weight, but for these big fights I'll sacrifice and stay there. But if I can't get a big fight with one of the other three [Lopez, Davis, Garcia], I'll go to 140."
Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) has the WBO, IBF, WBA, WBC franchise belt and The Ring magazine lightweight title after defeating Vasiliy Lomachenko in October. He has plans to face his IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. in the coming months.
Lopez, 23, often calls Haney "the email champion," but the two could end up squaring off in 2021 to finally settle the belt discrepancy. There haven't been any negotiations yet, but both fighters have identified this as a bout they want.
"If I'm so much of an email champ or I'm not worthy enough, why not just make the fight happen and we can figure out who is the real WBC champion, who is the real undisputed king," Haney said. "If I'm so easy and not credible, why not get me out the way?"