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Devin Haney wins unanimous decision, calls out George Kambosos

With the spotlight on boxing’s lightweight division, Devin Haney wanted to deliver a standout performance. What he needed more than anything else, though, was a win.

He got it Saturday night against JoJo Diaz Jr., using his slick boxing skills to retain his WBC lightweight title by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-111, 116-112) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“He said he was going to bring the dog out of me,” Haney said. “That’s exactly what he did. I had to bring the dog out.”

Haney (27-0, 15 knockouts) took control from the opening bell, establishing the distance with a clean jab and straight right hand that Diaz (32-2-1, 15 KOs) had no answers for. Diaz turned up the intensity in the second round and finished strong, but still didn’t throw consistently enough to steal the round.

Diaz had by far his best round in the fourth, when he finally managed to close the distance. He traded with Haney in the pocket and won the exchanges, even though both landed clean shots.

But his moment didn’t last, and Haney took back control in the middle rounds. Diaz didn’t throw many punches, and Haney, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, was more than happy to stand on the outside and pick him apart.

Diaz had another big moment in the seventh, finding a home for his overhand left, a punch that Haney has often struggled to defend. But the inconsistency continued, as Diaz lost the eighth round but then again forced the action in the ninth, swarming Haney to cause one of the more eventful exchanges of the night.

Diaz’s success was eerily similar to Haney’s last fight, when he built a big lead on the scorecards against Jorge Linares but had to survive late adversity because of Linares’ success landing left hooks.

The action reached a high point in the final round, with both fighters coming forward and tagging each other with overhand punches.

Newly crowned unified lightweight titlist George Kambosos Jr. was sitting ringside, and Haney immediately called for an undisputed title fight with the Australian. Kambosos has the other three title belts after an upset of Teofimo Lopez on Nov. 27.

“Let’s do it for all the belts,” Haney said. “The real undisputed. Let’s do it next. I’d go to Jupiter if I got to. I think it’s a great fight. There would be no more dispute. That’s the biggest fight right now for the 135-pound division.”

In the co-main event, super lightweight prospect Montana Love earned an impressive third-round stoppage over Carlos Diaz.

Love, coming off the most impressive win of his career against Ivan Baranchyk, scored three knockdowns in the second round, but Diaz survived. He didn’t make it out of the third when the referee stepped in with Diaz stuck against the ropes and taking punishment.

In another undercard fight, Jessica McCaskill retained her undisputed welterweight title with a seventh-round technical knockout over Kandi Wyatt, who was overmatched from the opening bell.

Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter.

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