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GIFTED American lightweight prospect Devin Haney produced a scintillating Knockout of the Year contender to cap off an impressive performance against tough Mexican Antonio Moran at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
Haney dominated proceedings from the outset and was simply too quick, too skilled and too powerful for Moran, who had pushed former two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza hard during a close points defeat in June last year.
Haney, who demonstrated a good defensive acumen as well as looking bright when on the attack, floored Moran with a right hand to the midsection in the fifth round. By the seventh, Moran’s features were swollen, and it was during this session that the definitive ending arrived.
After backing Moran up into a corner, Haney unleashed a cataclysmic overhand right that removed him from his senses. As the Mexico City man crumpled to the canvas, the referee immediately waved the contest off to allow medics to enter the ring. The time of the finish was 2-32. It had been scheduled for 10 rounds.
The unbeaten Haney, who is based in Las Vegas, could not have wished for a better first appearance for his new promoter, Matchroom Boxing.
“I feel great with my overall performance,” the 20-year-old said. “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 rumours going around that I don’t have any punching power and I can’t knock anyone out. But as you see, I can.
“I have a lot of punching power and speed. I’ve got everything. I knew this was a big opportunity, and on paper this was my toughest test. I felt like I was ready for a world title fight before this, and now I definitely feel that I’m ready for one.”
On the undercard, highly touted Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgovic wasted no time against Gregory Corbin, who was gone in 60 seconds.
The undefeated 2016 Olympic bronze medallist lamped Corbin with a shuddering short right hand, which decked him heavily. The Dallas fighter rose on unsteady legs at the count of eight, but was in no position to continue.
In another slated heavyweight 10-rounder, in-form Las Vegas resident Michael Hunter scored three knockdowns en route to a second-frame stoppage of the usually durable Brazilian Fabio Maldonado.
A pair of forceful Hunter rights led to a count from the referee, as only the ropes had prevented Maldonado from going over. A solid uppercut then compelled the South American to drop to his knees, before an aggressive follow-up assault had him down for a third and final time at 1-45. Hunter’s strong recent showings have put him in line for some big fights in the sport’s glamour division.
In a super-lightweight unification clash, Chicago’s WBC champ Jessica McCaskill went to war for 10 two-minute rounds with WBA counterpart Anahi Sanchez – a three-weight world title-holder from Argentina. McCaskill ultimately prevailed by marks of 99-91, 98-92 and a more realistic 96-94.
At Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, a new WBO super-featherweight king was crowned, as Jamel Herring upset defending titlist Masayuki Ito via unanimous decision.
Herring – a southpaw from Coram, New York – implemented an intelligent game plan against his tenacious Japanese adversary. The challenger picked his punches with precision and evaded most of what came his way. His effective jab and clever footwork saw him home by tallies of 116-112 and 118-110 twice.
The well-deserved victory rounded off an emotional evening for Herring, whose win was a fitting tribute to his late daughter.
“I want to dedicate this fight to my daughter, Ariyanah, who passed away from SIDS [sudden infant death syndrome],” he said. “Tonight would have been her 10th birthday, and I dedicate this title to her.”
On the same night (Saturday May 25) as the Haney and Herring shows, super-welterweights Austin Trout and Terrell Gausha fought to a 10-round split draw in Biloxi, Mississippi, although the latter seemed unfortunate not to receive the verdict.
The crowd at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino certainly voiced their displeasure when the scorecards were announced. One judge had it 96-94 for seasoned portsider Trout (Las Cruces, New Mexico), while another saw Cleveland-born Gausha winning by 99-91. The third official’s tab read 95-95.
Gausha boxed well and landed the cleaner blows for the most part, but it wasn’t enough in two of the judges’ eyes.