WHEN Eddie Hearn took his Matchroom promotional operation to the USA, he understandably tried to sign up local talent to interest American fans. While he has so far not been able to entice many elite names, he did succeed in signing a young prospect who may well figure in big fights for years to come: Devin Haney. The promising Las Vegas-based lightweight had been fighting under his own promotional banner, but has committed to Matchroom – and on Friday (September 13) gets a big test when he meets Zaur Abdullaev at the Theater under Madison Square Garden in New York City.
This 12-rounder was originally a final eliminator for the WBC 135lbs crown, but has been upgraded to interim WBC title status – even though brilliant Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko beat Luke Campbell for the full title as recently as August 31. Go figure. Even if Haney wins he’s unlikely to meet Lomachenko anytime soon, but this is still a good chance to announce himself as a real player in the crowded lightweight landscape, with DAZN televising in the USA (Sky Sports in the UK).
Still only 20, Haney turned pro in Mexico a month after his 17th birthday and learned his trade steadily before stepping up over the past year. Always blessed with good skills, he showed his improved punching power last time out (May) via a seventh-round knockout of Antonio Moran for three minor belts.