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Hearn says Devin Haney fights Zaur Abdullaev next in August


By Mark Eisner: British promoter Eddie Hearn is already planning the next move for unbeaten lightweight contender Devin Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) following his outstanding seventh round knockout win over Antonio Moran (24-4, 17 KOs) last Saturday night on DAZN at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Haney knocked out Moran with a brutal right hand in the seventh round that put an exclamation point on his fine performance.

Devin Haney vs. Zaur Abdullaev targeted for August

Hearn says the next fight that he’s planning on scheduling the 20-year-old Haney for is a World Boxing Council ordered 135-pound eliminator against unbeaten #2 WBC Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KOs) in August. The winner of the Haney vs. Abdullaev fight will then be the mandatory for the winner of the Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Luke Campbell fight. Judging by some of the comments from Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum on Saturday, Haney won’t get a shot against Loma for a little while yet until after he unifies the lightweight division, and the fight is ordered by the WBC. It could be a year, possibly two before the WBC gets around to ordering the fight. However, with the problems that the still growing Haney is having in making weight for the 135-pound weight class, there’s a good chance that he won’t be able to wait one to two years before the WBC orders the fight between him and Lomachenko. Haney will need to move up in weight to the 140-pound division to accommodate his growing body. There are some who believe that Haney will eventually be a welterweight in the next five years or less.

“It couldn’t have gone any better. Obviously when you outclass someone like that, it’s fine to do it for 12 rounds, but when you knock them out brutally, it just gets everybody talking,” Hearn said to IFL TV about Devin Haney after his seventh round knockout win over Antonio Moran last Saturday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland. “We are very, very lucky to have Devin Haney on our team. This kid could be the next American superstar. I talked a lot of people in boxing, and the reaction when we signed him was, ‘wow. Hearn has got one here.’ [Oleksandr] Usyk was supposed to be the main event [last night]. Usyk got injured, and Devin was elevated to main event and stole the show,” Hearn said.

In hindsight, it was good thing that Usyk suffered the injury that he did. Had he stayed on the card in his fight against 38-year-old Carlos Takam, it’s likely that Haney would have stolen the show from the unbeaten unified cruierweight champion Usyk, who doesn’t fight with the same exciting style. Usyk is more of a pure boxer, who slowly, methodically breaks down his opponents. Usyk was booed for the way he fought Michael Hunter and Thabiso Mchunu in fights that took place in the United States.

Moran, 26, was supposed to give Haney a tough fight, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Moran lacked the punching power, hand speed and the ring IQ to compete with Haney last night.

Haney landed 99 of 324 shots for a 31% connect percentage. Moran connected on 34 of 338 punches for a 10% connect rate. The numbers showed clearly what a mismatch the fight was. The fight was stopped at 2:32 of round 7 by referee Kenny Chevalier. If Moran could have gotten up, he would have. He was down on the canvas for approximately 10 minutes after the knockout.

“I think that was a beautiful shot. That was probably my best shot,” Haney said after the fight. “I feel great with my overall performance. I used my jab, broke him down to the body and knocked him out. Coming into this fight, I wanted to make a statement. There were a lot of rumors going around that I didn’t have any punching power and I can’t knock anyone out. But as you see, I can.”

Haney is NOT a huge puncher at 135

Haney showed good power in the fight, but it wasn’t the type of punching power that other top lightweights like Teofimo Lopez, Luke Campbell, Lomachenko and Richard Commey. Those fighters clearly hit harder than Haney does. The seventh round knockout by Haney was more of a case of him landing a shot at the same time that an already worn down Moran was attempting to throw a right hand of his own. Haney’s right hand got there first, and finished the job. It took Haney a lot of punches before he was able to knockout Moran. Haney shouldn’t get things twisted and start believing that he’s a big puncher at 135 after his stoppage win over Moran, because he’s not a big power guy. He’s more of a finesse type of fighter, and he always will be if he stays at 135. Haney’s power would go further if he were to melt down to 130 to fight at super featherweight. Obviously, that’s not going to happen though. Haney is likely to move up to 140 soon. If Haney starts trying to mix it up with guys like Lomachenko, Teofimo, Commey and Campbell, he could find out quickly that he’s not the puncher that he thinks he is. Those guys all hit harder than him. What Haney needs to do is stick with his Mayweather-esque fighting style, and continue to pot shot his opponents to pick up wins.

“The guy [Antonio Moran] had a very good fight with [Jose] Pedraza, who was a world champion and went the distance with [Vasiliy] Lomachenko,” Hearn said. “I knew he was going to be tough. I knew Devin would stop him, but I didn’t expect him to stop him like that. People ask if he has the power. I think he proved to people that he definitely has the power. 20-years-old, top five with every governing body [at 135]. Haney is a phenomenal talent. Now it’s about making the right moves, and deciding at what pace to go in, because after that, he’s ready for a big step up. [Zaur] Abdullaev for a final [WBC] eliminator. That’ll probably come in August. Exactly,” Hearn said when told that Haney will be ready to fight the winner of the Lomachenko vs. Luke Campbell fight, which will be taking place at the end of August.

The good news about Haney fighting the 25-year-old Zaur Abdullaev in August is it’s a winnable fight for him, one which he won’t take a great deal of punishment in winning. It won’t be as easy for Haney to beat Abdullaev as it was against the light hitting Moran, because the Russian fighter has pop to his punches, and he’s got talent. Never the less, Haney can win this fight, and then wait a year or two for for the WBC to order the match against Lomachenko. That fight will likely take place in 2021 if Lomachenko doesn’t vacate the belt to move back down to the 130-pound weight class. There’s a very good chance that Loma will move back down to super featherweight without ever fighting Haney, because that’s a weight class that is better designed for his body. Lomachenko is fighting out of his weight class at lightweight. What Lomachenko is doing in fighting at 135 is what we’d likely be seeing from Haney if he suddenly moved up to 147, and tried mixing it with bigger, stronger fighters like Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman. To some extent, Haney would be able to hold his own at times, but the size and the power of those type of fighters would ultimately be too much for the small-framed 5’8″ Haney. He’s not designed to mix it up with fighters with that kind of power. Moran had Haney looking uncomfortable in the fourth and fifth rounds when he was hitting him to the body. Where Moran made a mistake in the fight was trying to head hunt too much in rounds six and seven. Had he stayed committed to the body, he might have been able to make it the full 12 rounds. He still likely would have lost, but he would have stood a better chance of going 12 rounds. Haney clearly doesn’t like getting hit to the body. When Moran was going downstairs, Haney was running from him, and looking like he was in distress.

“All those kinds of fights; Lomachenko, Campbell, Mikey Garcia, Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia,” Hearn said in mapping out future fights that he wants Haney to take. “Those are the super fights Devin Haney can be in. Some of those he’d take now. It’s about building now. Tonight was great. He’s got everybody talking. We’ll do it [Haney vs. Teofimo Lopez] if one of them is a world champion, and someone is a mandatory or both are world champions. Teofimo Lopez is a great fighter, and so is Devin Haney. That’s a super fight, probably down the road. Who knows? I don’t know how long Teofimo Lopez’s contract is with Top Rank. Maybe one day he’ll come with us. We’ve got two outstanding lightweights in Luke Campbell and Devin Haney. That’s a great fight as well. He’ll take his time. He’s only 20,” Hearn said.

If Hearn wants to match Haney against Teofimo Lopez, then he’s going to need to move up to the 140-pound weight class to follow the big punching Top Rank promoted fighter, because that’s where he’s heading to in 2020. Teofimo has made it clear in countless interviews recently that he’ll be moving up to the light welterweight division after he faces Lomachenko in the first quarter of next year. Even if Teofimo beats Lomachenko, he says he’s going to be campaigning at 140, because he’s outgrown the 135-pound weight division. It’s too hard for Teofimo to make the weight now.

Hearn demands that U.S fans get behind Devin Haney

An impatient Hearn demanded that the U.S boxing fans watching last night’s fight between Haney and Moran become an instant fan of Devin. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Haney will need to do a lot more than beating a fighter like Moran for American fans to start backing him. The hardcore fans are well aware of the fact that Moran had recently been beaten by Jose Pedraza in 2018. Before that, Moran has lost to less than spectacular fighters like Emanuel Lopez (29-10-1, 13 KOs) and Luis Jesus Vidales (13-7, 6 KOs). Beating Moran isn’t a big deal, as you can see. If Hearn wants the U.S fans to become big fans of Haney, he’s going to need to do a lot better job of match-making. You can’t pick out fodder opposition that was recently beaten to put Haney in showcase fights, and expect the American fans to fail to understand what they’re seeing. The U.S fans can smell soft match-making a mile away, which is what we saw last night with Haney facing Moran instead of a talented lightweight like Lopez, Lomachenko or Campbell.

“Where I come from in England, if we had a star like this, the country would be going mad,” Hearn said. “So you guys need to get behind Devin Haney because let me tell you, America has a superstar on their hands.”

Hearn is going to need to be patient if he wants to turn Haney into a star in the United States. It would help for Hearn to start matching Haney against good fighters that have talent. It would also help if he tells Haney to stand more stationary, and not run around the ring when he’s being pressed, because last night he was running at times from Moran.

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