Lightweight up-and-comer Devin Haney has business to attend to on Friday, but he told ESPN what he really wants is a fight with unified world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, whom he has been calling out.
"If I'm so easy or if Lomachenko thinks it's not that tough of a fight, why not fight me? He'd get paid great," Haney said. "They're taking about fighting everyone but Devin Haney -- [Jamel] Herring, Gervonta Davis, Shakur Stevenson, guys at 126 pounds to 140. Everyone but me."
Haney can put himself in good position to command an eventual fight with Lomachenko when he meets Zaur Abdullaev for a vacant interim 135-pound title in the main event of a DAZN card (9 p.m. ET) at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lomachenko collected the third of the four major belts last Saturday when he outpointed Luke Campbell on Campbell's turf at the O2 Arena in London to claim the vacant WBC title.
The Haney-Abdullaev winner will win the interim title and become one of Lomachenko's mandatory challengers, although Lomachenko is likely going to fight for the undisputed crown in the first part of 2020 against the winner of a fight between titleholder Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez Jr., who are likely to meet Dec. 14 on ESPN.
But after that, Haney (22-0, 14 KOs), of Las Vegas, who registered the possible knockout of the year when he drilled Antonio Moran in the seventh round May 25, hopes he gets the shot at whoever has the belts.
"It feels good to know that this fight on Friday is the last fight before I know I can demand a title fight as the mandatory. I know what's at stake," Haney said. "When that time comes I'll be ready. It would be perfect if it came with all the belts and all I had to do is beat one guy to get them all."
Haney said the prospect of winning the interim belt provided him with even more motivation than he already had for Friday's fight.
"This is a big opportunity for me," Haney said. "I feel like I'm getting what I deserve. I'm gonna go in there and put on a good performance. This is just motivating me to look good. I know Abdullaev is strong and he comes to fight. He beat Hanky Lundy [last fall]. There's so much at stake now. I know he's going to give it his all.
"Being able to fight for an interim world title means everything. This not only makes me the WBC mandatory for Vasiliy Lomachenko, but I'm able to do interim title defenses until Loma is ready to fight."
Since Haney's world title fight likely won't come until at least mid-2020 if he beats Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KOs), 25, of Russia, Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said he could return as soon as Nov. 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the card headlined by the novelty fight between YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul.
"I got to take care of business on Friday but I would love to come back right before my 21st birthday," said Haney, who turns 21 on Nov. 17.
Bill Haney, Devin's father and trainer, told ESPN that he also very much wants his son to get a shot at Lomachenko, the sooner the better.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but I believe if Devin had the opportunity to fight the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business and the guy doesn't have a killer jab or killer right hand or left hand, meaning there's no real threat, it's just a boxer that has masterful skills," he said. "When you put that style against Devin, who has the athleticism, the length, the size and the youth, it's a fight we would take tomorrow."
Among the other fights on Friday's card is a significant women's bout between Brooklyn fighters and friends: featherweight world titlist Heather Hardy (22-0, 4 KOs), 37, in her first defense, against Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27 KOs), 30, one of the biggest names in women's boxing and the only female to win world titles in seven weight divisions.