By Gino Leroy @gino_____
On September 13th, Matchroom Boxing returns to Madison Square Garden, only this time the action takes place in the Hulu Theatre. Twenty year-old Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney headlines the card, taking on Russia’s very own lightweight prospect Zaur Abdullaev.
Both fighters are undefeated, untested, and within touching distance of a title shot. The winner becomes mandatory challenger for the WBC Lightweight crown, facing ‘Coolhand’ Luke Campbell or the Ukrainian living legend Vasily Lomachenko. Haney boasts a record consisting of 22-0(14KO), his most recent triumph coming in Maryland where he systematically beat down Mexican gatekeeper Antonio Moran, ending the contest in the 7th round with a devastating overhand right.
‘The Dream’ holds a wise head on young shoulders, a razor sharp left hand and has demonstrated a diverse shot selection. An impressive arsenal for someone of his age and limited experience.
Haney debuted in Tijuana, Mexico in 2015 at the age of sixteen and slowly but surely climbed the ranks. He was granted a promoters license in 2018 and established Devin Haney Promotions, becoming the youngest promoter ever in the US.
Zaur Abduallaev of Dydymkin, Russia is the current WBC Silver Lightweight belt holder. Five years Haney’s senior but with ten less professional fights, he has an overall record of 11-0 (7KO). A front footed, high guarded pressure fighter who feints his way inside to attack the body, he can be very effective with his straight one-two down the pipe.
Abdualleav’s most notable scalp is former world title challenger Henry ‘Hank’ Lundy. Style-wise, Lundy is the closest comparison to Haney that the Russian has faced to date. At times, Abdullaev appeared to struggle with the movement of Lundy, despite picking up a comfortable unanimous decision win. Haney could exploit this.
It is worth mentioning that this contest will be Abdualleav’s first professional bout outside of Russia, attracting a broadcast audience much larger than he’s experienced before. The DAZN platform is a different kettle of fish. But, he is full of confidence after facing a higher calibre of opponents than Haney, despite having less fights. He definitely has the ability to cause an upset.
Out of the two, I sense that Haney will be better equipped to deal with the significance of the fight. In what will be the biggest fight in both of their careers to date, he will be the A side, and betting favourite.
I see this fight going the full 12 rounds. ‘The Dream’ will use his best weapon in that ramrod left jab and mix it up with dedicated attacks solely to the body to break through Abduallaev’s tight but hunched high guard.
As the fight goes on I can see Haney beginning to land head shots more frequently, all fluidly rolling off of his jab. Abdullaev’s body punching may serve him well down the stretch, and I think it will be necessary for him to stick with it.
Haney counter punches accurately, he tends to keep his right hand strapped to his jaw. This puts him in an ideal position to fire back. Despite Abdullaev’s good lateral movement, he may find it hard to land clean punches to Haney’s head.
I believe Devin Haney will win by unanimous decision in a competitive fight, maybe having to weather a few fiery onslaughts from Abdullaev along the way. ‘The Dream ‘ should have a bit too much variation and class for the Russian, ultimately outworking his opponent throughout the twelve.