Lee Haskins to defend IBF bantamweight crown against Mexico’s Ivan Morales in May

03/31/2016 - By James Slater - Comments

Back in November, Bristol’s talented Lee Haskins won the IBF bantamweight title without throwing a single punch. The 32-year-old southpaw travelled to Las Vegas to challenge Randy Caballero, but Caballero failed to make the 118-pound weight limit by quite a margin, and the title was handed to the Brit. Haskins was upset at not being able to realise his dream of boxing under the bright lights of Las Vegas, but he was of course thrilled to become a world champion.

Now, at the new Ice Arena in Cardiff, Wales on May 14th, Haskins, 32-3(14) will defend the belt for the first time. Challenging him will be Mexico’s once-beaten Ivan Morales, the bother of all-time great Erik Morales. Morales, also a southpaw but a good deal younger than Haskins at age 24, is 29-1(17) and he has an exciting style even if he is not as special as his older brother was; but then, who is? Beaten only by Edgar Jimenez who out-pointed him via majority decision in his last but one fight in August of last year, Morales boxed as a super-flyweight before moving up in weight in 2013.

Boxing mostly at home in Mexico and also in the US, Morales has not faced anyone of Haskins’ class. Very much an underrated fighter, Haskins has done things the hard way, going abroad to fight on occasion. Boxing in Monaco and the unlikely setting of Morocco, Haskins has won six straight since being stopped by Stephane Jamoye in 2012. Haskins’ other two losses came via stoppage – to the tall and dangerous Tshifihiwa Munyai in 2006 and via corner retirement against Ian Napa the following year. Haskins has been fighting at British and Commonwealth title level for years and he has also boxed for and won the European title.

As first world title defences go, the Morales fight is a good one, but certainly a fight Haskins can win. Morales, though, who will have his legendary brother working his corner on fight night, will be aggressive and it should make for an exciting fight. Haskins might have to go all 12-rounds to get the win. The fight will go out live in the UK on terrestrial Chanel 5.