Devin Haney passed the biggest test of his young career Friday night on ShoBox: The New Generation, kicking off the 2019 boxing year with a dazzling performance and unanimous decision victory over fellow undefeated former South African champion Xolisani Ndongeni live on SHOWTIME from StageWorks of Louisiana.
Haney (21-0, 13 KOs) scored a second-round knockdown and wore Ndongeni (25-1, 13 KOs) down with punishing body shots in the latter part of the fight in winning easily on all three judges’ scorecards, 100-89 twice, and 99-90.
Haney told SHOWTIME’s Steve Farhood in the ring after the fight he only wants to be considered a contender from here on out. “I want those top guys,” he said. “Now they really can’t deny me. I’ve been saying this for a long time but now, I’m a contender.” See the post-fight interview HERE.
The knockdown came at 1:30 of the second round as a Haney right hand landed flush knocking the unbalanced Ndongeni to the canvas. But it was Haney’s body shots that wore out the stubborn Ndongeni, who was fighting in the United States for just the second time. Haney badly wanted to end the fight with a knockout, even telling his father Bill Haney between rounds, “I’m going to knock him out!”
“He’s a great fighter,” said Haney, who with the victory takes home the WBO Intercontinental and WBC International belts. “You don’t make it to 25-0 without being anybody. I knew it was going to be tough opponent from the very beginning. He’s a really good fighter and I didn’t choose him. That was the opponent that came up and you know me, I don’t turn down anybody. I fight whoever comes in front of me.”
Farhood said 2019 could be the year Haney fights for a world title. “I’m impressed because he showed a side of himself that we hadn’t seen before,” the International Boxing Hall of Famer Farhood said. “For a young fighter, although he’s very skilled, you want to see him handle all kinds of situations. He went to the body effectively and if the fight goes 30 seconds longer he gets the stoppage. Is a world title fight in 2019 a possibility? Certainly. Just because he’s 20 doesn’t mean he’s not good enough. It’s clear there’s no one that’s going to out-box him.”
Farhood finally gave Ndongeni a round for the first time in the seventh as he used some effective body work to control the round, although never visibly hurting Haney or putting him in too much danger.
As the fight went deeper and deeper, Haney just kept getting stronger. In the final two rounds, he led 69-28 on overall landed punches (16-6 jabs and 53-22 power). In the final minute of the final round, Haney out-landed Ndongeni 23-3 in total connects.
“I’m getting stronger with each fight and I feel my man strength emerging,” Haney said. “Ndongeni is a very durable fighter. I attribute his big heart for keeping him in the fight. I knew I was the superior fighter. I showed everyone I can fight coming forward, I can box, I can bang, I do it all. I’m ready…no one is stopping me.”