Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn is hoping to stage a WBC final eliminator between Devin Haney and Zaur Abdullaev in Las Vegas on September 13th. If it goes ahead, then Haney will be fighting in his adoptive hometown on the same weekend that Golden Boy promotions plan to stage Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s next fight.
Haney’s Matchroom Boxing debut saw him produce a highlight reel knockout of tough contender Antonio Moran at the MGM Harbour in Oxon Hill, Maryland on 25th May. Haney looked nothing short of sensational and along with fellow contenders Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia, he looks set to bring the 135lb Lightweight division to the forefront of world boxing.
No other division boasts an array of potential superstar talent that has still to reach the top level. Division ruler Vasiliy Lomachenko is most boxing fans P4P No1, and looks untouchable at present, but IBF ruler, Richard Commey of Ghana would start a big underdog if he were to be matched with the three young braggarts.
It looks as if the plan by Commey’s promoters Top Rank, is to match him with their IBF No4 ranked contender Teofimo Lopez, who would then go on to fight Lomachenko if successful. But with the Ukrainian now facing Britain’s Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC title in August, his mandatory contender will be the winner of Haney vs Abdullaev.
Lopez has first to win his July 19th IBF final eliminator against Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani, and Haney his eliminator with Abdullaev, but both will be Lomachenko’s mandatory contenders.
In Abdullaev, Haney will be meeting a 25-year-old Russian (11-0-0 7 Ko’s) who doesn’t look like your archetypal Eastern European boxer. At 5’ 9” tall and with a long reach, he fights out of a crouch and ‘sits in the pocket’, parrying shots before countering. He throws a lot of left hooks, mostly to the body, and would be described as a pressure fighter more than boxer.
Abdullaev has looked very good against the opposition he has faced thus far but of course he will never have faced the skillset Haney will show him.
After the Moran fight, which was elevated to bill topper when former Cruiserweight King Oleksander Usyk pulled out of his Heavyweight debut against Carlos Takam, Haney fights could quickly become as big an attraction as Joshua, Pacquiao, or Lomachenko bouts. The sort of fighter that fans get excited about no matter who they are facing.
Barry Hearn has stated ‘Haney is the next big star in boxing’ and he may well be right, but Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, and Vasily Lomachenko might have something to say about Haney being even the next big star at Lightweight.