Devin Haney will meet Zaur Abdullaev for the interim WBC lightweight title this Friday, September 13 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, live on DAZN in the US and on Sky Sports in the UK.
Devin “The Dream” Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) will look to make this opportunity a memorable one in his first appearance at “The Mecca of Boxing” – Madison Square Garden against Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KOs).
How We Got Here
Many boxing fans might not be aware but Haney was supposed to fight Luke Campbell instead of WBA/WBO champion Lomachenko for the vacant WBC lightweight title which was contested (and won by the Ukrainian) on August 31 at the O2.
Loma successfully appealed to the WBC, and that decision effectively pushed Haney to the side. It was a controversial move by the governing body and they appear to have gone into correction mode by ordering the interim WBC bout.
However, the winner of the Haney vs. Abdullaev fight may not get a shot at Lomachenko at all if the WBC gives him their ‘Franchise tag’ as they are expected to do.
Lomachenko wants to move back down to super featherweight after unifying the lightweight division against the winner between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez for the IBF belt, which is the last remaining title not in his possession. Therefore, the Haney vs. Abdullaev winner could become the eventual regular WBC lightweight champion in 2020.
Tale of the Tape
Haney, 20, still needs to mature despite his sizzling knockout win over Antonio Moran on DAZN in May. The Las Vegas transplant compiled an impressive 130-8 amateur record and won the U.S. Youth Championships at 15 and 16, defeating fellow prospect and social media sensation Ryan Garcia in the process.
Haney was already sparring top pros like Shawn Porter in his teens but barely missed representing the U.S. at the 2016 Summer Games due to rule changes requiring fighters to be at least 19 years old.
Haney’s professional rise has been meteoric with comparisons to Floyd Mayweather for his lightning fast quickness and gifted ability beyond his years. Abdullaev will be fighting outside of his native Russia for the first time as a pro, which began in March 2017.
He’s only had 11 pro fights but has faced stiff competition along the way including a comfortable points win over former multiple time title challenger Hank Lundy in 2018. Abdullaev, unlike many of Haney’s past opponents, won’t be afraid or overwhelmed about the assignment. He won’t be lacking in confidence either.
“I’m delighted that the fight is happening,” Abdullaev said. “I was panicking when I saw some posts from Haney on social media that nobody wants to fight him at 135 pounds and he might have to move up in weight. I kept biting my nails. Allah the gracious has delivered this fight, and now it’s reality.”
Haney and Abdullaev are currently ranked #2 and #4 by the WBC, respectively, but both are very young fighters lacking any real world-level experience.
This is a solid test for both fighters given that they have similar amateur backgrounds and are legitimate world title contenders. Haney is a can’t miss prospect with no discernable flaws. Abdullaev is an inch taller than Haney and boasts an identical knockout ratio at 64%. The Russian likes to break his opponents down over the course of a fight so we can expect him to apply tremendous pressure in this fight as he looks for openings. Unlike his opponent, Abdullaev has won some minor titles as a pro too including the WBC Silver and WBO Youth Championships. Haney has the edge in speed and better overall pure skills which should prove decisive in this entertaining scrap.
Verdict: Haney by unanimous decision.