The WBC has reinstated Devin Haney as its full lightweight titleholder, four months after declaring him champion in recess because of a right shoulder injury suffered during a defense of his belt in November.
The injury sustained against Alfredo Santiago and subsequent surgery left Haney unable to honor a mandatory defense against challenger Javier Fortuna. A bout between Fortuna and Luke Campbell for what would have been the vacant title will now be contested for the interim belt.
A champion in recess status entitled Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) to vie for his belt only after recovering from his injury. Haney, who is based in Las Vegas, appealed to the WBC's board of governors for full reinstatement since the Campbell-Fortuna bout originally scheduled for April was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Haney, 21, also claimed he was fully recovered and ready to defend his belt at 135 pounds, a title earned with a win over Zaur Abdullaev last September.
Haney's successful appeal included letters from Campbell and Fortuna. The WBC also allowed him to make a voluntary title defense, with the caveat that if successful he would then face the winner between Campbell and Fortuna.
WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN last week about his intentions to recognize Haney as its lightweight champion. Pending was the board's decision, which needed to take into account top challengers Campbell and Fortuna.
Haney found himself in hot water recently for comments considered racist in nature, saying about a potential showdown with Vasiliy Lomachenko that he would "never lose to a white boy." Haney apologized and later met with Sulaiman and WBC officials to discuss the comments.