New York, NY – Twenty-year-old Devin Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) put on a commanding performance on Friday night at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, stopping formerly unbeaten Zaur Abdullaev (11-1 7 KOs) by 4th round TKO. The stoppage came at the advice of Abdullaev’s corner (resulting from the Russian sustaining a suspected cheek fracture) earning Haney an Interim WBC Lightweight title in the process.
Make no mistake. Haney controlled every second of every round versus Abdullaev, systematically breaking down the WBC’s third-ranked lightweight contender and (former) Silver Lightweight titlist who had already logged a win versus seasoned veteran Henry “Hank” Lundy (29-8-1, 14 KOs) in only his 10th pro fight.
Naturally, with such a dominant win over Abdullaev, the buzz surrounding Haney shifts to gauging where the boxing wunderkind goes from here.
The answer, according to Haney, is anyone, anytime, anywhere.
“I can say this over and over again,” said Haney, “I’m not turning down no smoke.”
“I’m willing to fight everybody. I want to showcase my skills and I’m ready for whoever.”
Of course, Haney would love a showdown with newly-minted WBC World Lightweight Champ, Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs).
Recall, back in August, Haney tweeted: “I could beat Loma[chenko] point blank period!” after watching Lomachenko outpoint former Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell.
Now Haney wants a shot at proving his point.
“Lomachenko is a great fighter. I take nothing away from him,” said Haney. “And that’s exactly why I want to fight him,” he added.
And for skeptics believing that Haney’s too green for Lomachenko, the Californian has a simple message:
“If I’m so green, why not just fight me and beat me,” said Haney.
“I’m talking a lot, making a lot of buzz. I’m calling his name every single day,” Haney explained. “I DM’d him on Instagram [and he didn’t respond]. Why not just get me out of the way?”
Whether Lomachenko takes Haney up on his offer remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t count Haney out in that match-up.
Other names atop the lightweight rankings and in pound-for-pound discussions were also floated at Haney’s post-fight presser, including reigning IBF champ Richard Commey, Luke Campbell, Gervonta Davis, and Mikey Garcia.
Bill Haney Sr., Devin Haney’s father and trainer, explained that Haney wanted to fight Campbell for a lightweight title. But the fight never materialized.
Likewise, they targeted Garcia when he was the WBC titlist, but the fight never gained traction.
Even if Garcia joins DAZN, making a Garcia vs. Haney bout could be difficult despite obvious pound-for-pound implications. The primary reason: Matchroom Boxing Promoter, Eddie Hearn, and Haney doubt that Garcia can make the 135- pound limit.
“I really don’t know what weight class [Mikey] is going to fight at,” said Haney. “I heard that he’s coming back at 147.”
Haney and Gervonta Davis have history, reportedly sparring several times with different accounts of the who got the better of who. Skill wise, Haney vs. Davis is a dream match-up, but neither Haney or Hearn expected that bout to happen anytime soon.
Nevertheless, Haney won’t sit idle waiting for the big names.
Instead, Hearn revealed that Haney will get back in the ring on November 9th (presuming he’s medically cleared) against a credible opponent as part of the KSI vs. Logan Paul rematch at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
According to Hearn, an official announcement is imminent.
Haney will co-star alongside the well-known YouTube influencers with sizeable social media followings, in an effort to grow Haney’s brand and introduce boxing to a global audience of millennials that may otherwise be lukewarm to the sport.
“I’m happy to be on [the KSI vs. Logan Paul] card,” said Haney, “it’s going to bring a lot more fans to Devin Haney and to boxing, period.”
That may be true. But it’s fights against Lomachenko, Davis, Garcia, and other champions at or near the lightweight limit that the public, media, and the fighters themselves must demand to ensure that we continue to make boxing great again. ■
Paul R. Jones! is a boxing writer and ringside photographer for East Side Boxing. Follow him on Twitter @boxingepicenter.
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