In a division where it’s easy to be overlooked, and in the shadows of highlight reel performances from Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko, unbeaten contender Devin Haney made an absolutely devastating statement on the main event of DAZN’s show at the MGM National Harbor. Ranked number four by the WBC at lightweight, Haney scored a shocking knockout of quality opponent Antonio Moran, breaking him down and taking him out with an overhand right hand. The final outcome was instantly acknowledged as a candidate for Knockout of the Year.
Haney looked sensational throughout, controlling the fight with the jab and scoring pot-shot left hooks and right hands to keep Moran guessing. Haney scored his first knockdown in round five with a right to the body, and Moran visibly weakened, to the point that some wondered whether Moran’s corner might throw in the towel. In the seventh, Haney turned over a brutal right hand that sent Moran crumbling to the deck and prompting the referee to stop the fight immediately. This would stand as the first time Moran was ever knocked out in a 28 fight career that recently featured a competitive scrap against Jose Pedraza.
Look at Moran’s eyes: they followed Haney’s head. Moran tried to counter with a right hand and didn’t see the overhand, which came from a blind spot. Want to know how Salvador Sanchez was able to land that dipping overhand right almost at will? This is why. pic.twitter.com/3ivXZnrOoa
— Lee Wylie (@leewylieboxing) May 26, 2019
In terms of what’s next for Haney, promoter Eddie Hearn stated that the young contender had been ordered by the WBC to face Zaur Abdullaev in an elimination bout, the winner to then go on and fight the victor of the possible Lomachenko vs Campbell title match in the future. However, Hearn stated that they do not expect a prospective match with either Lomachenko or Luke Campbell to happen until 2020. As usual, boxing moves at a steady, glacial pace.
“Like I said before I’m willing to fight all the world champions,” said Haney after his huge win, although he did not call out Teofimo Lopez in a manner many reporters were hoping for. Without a doubt, Haney vs Teofimo is a potential superfight in the making if both boxers are managed properly, and particularly if they’re not thrown in against Lomachenko prematurely.
The co-feature on the DAZN card saw undefeated Croatian heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic score a massive first round stoppage over Greg Corbin. Like the Haney KO, this knockout was an impressive display of power as Corbin was measured by the left and crushed by the right when he recklessly came forward against the powerful Croat. Hrgovic improves to 8-0 with the win.
The first fight of the main card was also a violent and conclusive affair as former cruiserweight title challenger Michael Hunter blasted Fabio Maldonado out in the second round, scoring three knockdowns before the bout was stopped. Hunter, whose last appearance in the MGM National Harbor saw him take some serious punishment from the fists of Oleksandr Usyk, was in complete control, and now looks forward to bigger and better fights at heavyweight.
In perhaps the most crowd-pleasing match of the night, WBC female 140 pound champion Jessica McCaskill scored a unanimous decision over Anahi Sanchez after ten action-packed rounds. McCaskill continuously applied pressure, but Sanchez countered effectively out of the orthodox and southpaw stance to keep the fight close early. However, Sanchez started to break down late as McCaskill’s pace was too much for the Argentinian. In fact, McCaskill appeared close to scoring a stoppage in the late rounds, but to her credit, Sanchez withstood the onslaught and heard the final bell. With the decision win, McCaskill added a WBA title belt to her WBC one and thus solidified her standing as one of the best female boxers in the world.
Also on the undercard, unbeaten Kazakh super-welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov scored a hard-fought six-round unanimous decision victory over a game Juan Norabueno. Yeleussinov, who scored victories over both Josh Taylor and Josh Kelly as an amateur, chose to fight in close quarters with the shorter Norabueno rather than utilize his height and reach advantage. The Kazakh began to pull away in the fourth as his punches took a visible toll on Norabueno, whose legs showed the effects in the latter rounds. Yeleussinov, the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, improved to 7-0.
Baltimore native Lorenzo “Truck” Simpson scored a sensational first round stoppage of Rafael Garcia to improve his record to 4-0. The former nine-time national amateur champ opened up with a string of unanswered punches midway through the first, forcing referee Harvey Dock to save Garcia and end the match at the 1:19 mark. “Truck” Simpson certainly is a prospect to look out for at 168 as he transitions from star-status at amateur to a rising star as a professional.
And in the opening fight of the night, Mexico’s Luis Geraldo Perez Salas won a unanimous decision over hometown fighter Mack Allison in an exciting, back-and-forth encounter. Salas set the pace from the beginning, consistently outworking Allison through the first five rounds. Allison, however, caught many of Salas’s blows on the arms and appeared to land the cleaner, crisper punches, but just wasn’t able to hold Salas off until the sixth and final round. In a fight that appeared much closer than the judges’ scores, Salas advanced his record to 6-2.
— Alden Chodash