Aiming to defend his title for the second time, Devin Haney takes yet another considerable step-up towards elite competition as he faces the dangerous veteran, Jorge Linares. | Haney vs Linares
Matchroom: Haney vs Linares Predictions & Results
- Fight Card – Matchroom: Haney vs Linares
- Devin Haney vs Jorge Linares
- Martin Joseph Ward vs Azinga Fuzile
- Jason Quigley vs Shane Mosley Jr
- Chantelle Cameron vs Melissa Hernandez
- Reshat Mati vs Ryan Pino
- Ramla Ali vs Mikayla Nebel
- Khalil Coe vs Nathaniel Tadd
Aiming to defend his WBC world title for a second time (or third if you count interim belts), Devin Haney returns on Saturday night. In the opposing corner, former titleholder Jorge Linares aims to end Haney’s considerable hype train. While Haney is undefeated in twenty-five fights, the twenty-two-year-old remains untested at an elite level. With over fifty fights in the locker and considerable rounds with the top guys around 135lbs, Linares offers a challenging step-up.
Outside of the main event, there isn’t too much to get excited about. Martin Joseph Ward features on the co-main, yet the talented technician is still in the process of career rebuilding. Following his shock TKO defeat to James Tennyson, Ward has so far failed to up his opposition to match his hype. Opponent Azinga Fuzile carries heavy hands that may touch upon Ward’s failures three years ago.
Despite huge media attention behind Ramla Ali, there hasn’t been much clamour from boxing fans since she transitioned to the pros. Why would there be when she feasts on a host of journeyman to pad out her record? Chantelle Cameron defends her WBC belt against Melissa Hernandez. The Puerto Rican slugger was the former WBC Lightweight champion and has proven her championship quality countless times before.
Matchroom: Haney vs Linares
Devin haney (25-0, 15KO) vs Jorge Linares (47-5, 29KO)
WBC World Lightweight Title
It is surprising to remember that Devin Haney is still technically a twenty-two-year-old prospect. Experienced far beyond his tender age, the WBC Lightweight champion has rapidly emerged as the Marmite Man. Outspoken on issues outside of the squared ring, there is a rare love/hate nature to those following Haney’s journey. Floyd Mayweather Jr made a career out of riding the cash fuelled hate train. The key aspect that both men shared, however, is possessing the natural talent to back up their words on fight night.
After securing the interim WBC title in a squash match against Zaur Abdullaev, Haney has incrementally upped his opposition. While the unknown Alfredo Santiago didn’t attract much attention, a twelve-round whooping of the great tactician, Yuriorkis Gamboa, was a prize scalp so early on in Haney’s career. Although an ugly fight to watch, the greatest compliment is the resounding disappointment Haney couldn’t find the stoppage. So thorough was the decision, it was almost expected that Haney ended the fight before the twelfth round.
Athletically, Haney is superb, yet it is his shot selection on the outside that makes Haney magical. With a low lead hand, and a right hand forever tucked to the chin, Haney’s crisp counters flash seemingly out of nowhere. Chopping counter straights that angle from roof to ground cut through an opponent’s guard and land sweetly on the chin. A spearing rear uppercut that is timed on an opponent’s entry into the pocket. Off of the uppercut, Haney pours on the volume varied between head and body. When the opponent is the aggressor, Haney’s timing remains untouched, and it will take a durable opponent to test the American.
Since his first world title shot in 2007, Linares’ name has remained a constant feature amongst the 125-135lbs divisions. By now, the jury is out on Linares’ lack of durability. That isn’t to say the Venezuelan cannot take a punch, but he is extremely susceptible to an early stoppage. When combined with his lightning hand speed and crushing power, Linares’ experience and glass cannon style make him an easy sell to fans.
Perhaps peaking during the mid-2010s, with a string of victories over solid British title contenders, Linares’ name value may now outweigh his ability. While Linares proved the sport’s levels during the rematch with Anthony Crolla, it was only six months later that Luke Campbell almost stole the WBA title in a razor-thin decision. Moreover, Linares secured the surprise sixth-round knockdown over Vasyl Lomachenko but was put away himself by the smaller man during the later rounds. A shock first-round knockout loss to Pablo Cesar Cano only further served to indicate the former champion’s decline.
Linares’ key path to victory lays in his ability to pour the pressure on early. Similar to the Campbell fight, Linares needs to dictate the early pace and prevent the younger man from settling into a rhythm. If Linares continues to probe with his long jab, he will stop Haney from timing his powerful counters. Linares’ questionable durability cannot be banked upon the later the fight reaches, and an early stoppage remains the safest course for victory. Furthermore, Linares cannot afford to linger at range after spearing his jab. Haney’s uppercut will nuke the Venezuelan’s biscuit chin. Instead, Linares needs to respect the American’s speed advantage and either follow up with his lead hook or back out of the pocket.
Predicted Result: Haney TKO Round 10
A perfect step-up in competition for Devin Haney despite the extremely wide odds. While Linares’ notoriously questionable durability will undoubtedly rear its ugly head, the veteran still carries knockout power himself. Haney’s modest inside game may have been drearily exploited by Yuriorkis Gamboa, but the twenty-two year old still showcased his maturity by regularly forcing the action back to the outside. Thankfully for the American, he won’t have to force Linares into the role of aggressor.
The Venezuelan needs to pour on early pressure and prevent Haney from settling into a comfortable rhythm. Linares’ spearing jab consistently lands on the button, but too often the veteran lingers in the pocket. Even against the modest Carlos Morales, the Mexican landed hard liver shots and uppercuts on a sleeping Linares. Haney’s rear uppercut is thrown in equal volume to that of his straight (in a fashion similar to Guillermo Rigondeaux). Expect early Haney bodywork to wear on the weathered thirty-five-year-old, before a hard counter uppercut scrambles Linares.
Result: Haney def. Linares // Decision (unanimous – 115-113, 116-112, 116-112)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Matchroom: Haney vs Linares
Martin Joseph Ward (24-1-2, 11KO) vs Azinga Fuzile (14-1, 8KO)
Super Featherweight (130)
Martin Joseph Ward
Just a few years ago, it seemed that Ward had finished up cleaning up all domestic contenders before moving to greener pastures. Enter James Tennyson. The heavy-handed Northern Irishman endured an early barrage before forcing Ward into a phone booth brawl and secured a fifth-round stoppage. Ward has since spent three years rebuilding his career against humble opposition. Perhaps the greatest scalp was a dubious decision over the aged Italian veteran, Devis Boschiero.
Ward at times can be criticised for boxing too cleanly. Extremely well-schooled, Ward operates behind a variety of foot/shoulder feints which mask his frequent jab. What Ward learnt against Tennyson, and to a degree Jesus Amparan, that professionals liberally lead with their head. While leaning into his feints are a wonderful vehicle to forcing opponents into his check hooks, it also enables swarmers to regularly clash heads. Ward’s head movement oozes quality deeper into the fight, dropping his hands and countering from a diverse range of angles. A lack of power will prove troublesome at the world level, but Tevin Farmer and Jamel Herring evidence feather dusters can still succeed at the top of 130lbs.
South African youngster, Azinga Fuzile, is tasked with a huge match-up after experiencing his first career (and stoppage) loss of his professional career. Losing to Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov isn’t a major slight on the record, however, considering his decorated amateur background. Moreover, Fuzile is only twenty-four and the eight rounds with Rakhimov will have taught so much more than a first-round knockout over the 8-5, Immanuel Andeleki.
Operating out of the Philly shell, Fuzile essentially sits on his back-foot and regularly dips at the knees to frustrate opponents. While the head movement is slick, his counter straight is thrown with an awkward loop that often fails to land cleanly. Instead, Fuzile finds success with the follow-up liver shot that takes away the legs of his opponent. Fuzile’s jab is an effective weapon; if a little underutilised. During extended combinations to the head, however, Fuzile tends to lift his chin towards the ceiling.
Predicted Result: Ward Decision
Ward has experienced a long stretch of career rebuilding following his shock TKO loss to James Tennyson. At fault for fighting too cleanly, Ward struggled with the ugly head-first swarming of Tennyson. A dubious decision over the dried up Italian veteran, Devis Boschiero, has done little to bolster Ward’s profile. Make no mistake, however, the Brit is a classy operator. Utilising a variety of foot and shoulder feints, Ward coaxes opponents into engaging and walking onto his slick counters. As the fight continues into the later rounds, Ward drops his hands, relying on sharp head movement to bait opponents further.
Opponent, Azinga Fuzile, may have suffered his first career loss to Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov last time out, but the South African surprised many with his confident back-foot display. Fighting out of the Philly shell, Fuzile backs onto the ropes and lands long counter combinations on extended opponents. Fuzile’s counter straight is an awful looping punch that often leads to him getting caught. Instead, it is Fuzile’s bodywork that finds success. Both men are technically excellent on the outside, with the result likely going down to personal preference – Ward’s more diverse arsenal versus Fuzile’s heavier hands.
Result: Fuzile def. Ward // TKO Round 7 2:45
Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Matchroom: Haney vs Linares
Rest of the Card
Jason Quigley (18-1, 14KO) vs Shane Mosley Jr (17-3, 10KO)
Forgoing his place in the Irish Olympic team, Quigley was the former number one AIBA European and World Amateur. With huge expectations on his shoulders, Quigley has struggled to find his feet in the professional ranks. Losing his NABF Middleweight Title to Tureano Johnson, Quigley struggled with the bull-dozing front-foot aggression from the Bahamas man. Too often lost against the ropes, Quigley was battered on the inside despite finding pockets of success and showing considerable heart.
Quigley’s is a clubbing single-shot boxer who often leads with a hook rather than the traditional jab. Quigley’s jab often only appears when opponents are already shelled up against the ropes. Although Quigley can sometimes devolve into simple combinations of hooks, he has a shrewd eye for a finish and breaks opponents with volume. While Quigley’s lateral movement off the back-foot requires work, against ineffective ring cutters he can set his feet for hard counters.
Shane Mosley Jr
Son of Hall of Famer, Shane Mosley, Mosley Jr is a decent tactician at Middleweight who lacks the natural athleticism to succeed at the top. After a rocky start to his professional career, Mosley Jr has ironed out several issues with his leaky defence. Last time out against Cristian Olivas, Mosley Jr kept himself off the ropes and forced Olivas to whiff from far out of striking range.
A lack of volume is an issue during the early proceedings, however. While Mosley Jr loosens into combinations after he has had the necessary reads, he needs to engage earlier to stop Quigley from landing significant damage. Mosley Jr’s rock-solid chin may see him through tough early waters, but it is a risk that needn’t be taken. Dragging Quigley into the later rounds is the key, thus a compact guard and educated positioning need to be the priority during the first half of the fight.
Predicted Result: Quigley Decision
Jason Quigley needs a big victory to throw his name in the mix at Middleweight. Both men are fringe contenders, but while Shane Mosley Jr rides his father’s success, Quigley was a hugely decorated amateur. The Irishman carries clubbing power and possesses a shrewd eye for the finish, but he can flag in the later rounds after pouring out too much early pressure.
Mosley Jr has ironed out holes in his defence since the David Toussaint fight, but his lack of volume in the early rounds usually leaves him fighting from behind. While this is successful against the likes of Calvin Metcalf (9-2-1) and Cristian Olivas (20-7), Quigley is a huge step-up in quality. Thankfully for Mosley Jr, he can fall back on his solid chin to endure tough early waters. Even without one-punch knockout power, Quigley will likely bank too many early rounds for Mosley Jr to launch an effective second-half showing.
Result: Quigley def. Mosley Jr. // Decision (majority – 95-95, 96-94, 97-93)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Chantelle Cameron (13-0, 7KO) vs Melissa Hernandez (23-7-3, 7KO)
Women’s Super Lightweight (140)
WBC World Female Super Lightweight Title
Decorated amateur, Chantelle Cameron, found the championship in the pro’s that she never achieved in the amateurs. Claiming the vacant WBC title against an out-of-shape, Adriana Araujo, Cameron convincingly won every minute of their ten-round affair. In a division pretty void of any competition, Araujo represented one of the biggest threats. Aside from Mary McGee and Christina Linardatou, there remains little potential threat at Super Lightweight.
Cameron relentlessly moves opponents around the ring by consistently bouncing in and out of range alongside a laser-sharp jab. Switching up her entries between single jabs, triple jabs, and four-punch combinations, Cameron is an incredibly difficult fighter to read. Her opponent’s job is made more difficult by her tireless volume and mastery of just remaining outside of striking range on defence. The only glaring issue is Cameron’s tendency to triple up her lead hand leaves her exposed to a counter right. While Anahi Sanchez has been the only fighter to regularly land the counter straight on Cameron, it remains an area of vulnerability.
At forty-one years of age, and with a long professional career in regards to Women’s boxing, Melissa Hernandez enters Saturday as a heavy underdog. Worse yet, Hernandez took three years away from the sport between 2016-2019, having only fought once since. Hernandez is a former WBC world champion, however, even though she immediately dropped the title in her first defence to Jelena Mrdjenovich.
Still, Hernandez caused a big upset upon her return against the undefeated Selina Barrios. Hugely durable, Hernandez walked down Barrios with regular flurries of punches. While the head movement is largely strained, made worse by her hands’ low style, Hernandez’s front-foot combinations are crisp. The lunging lead hook is a powerful weapon that rises from an unorthodox angle – in part due to her low hands.
Predicted Result: Cameron Decision
At forty-one years old, and with only one fight since 2016, you may be questioning just why Hernandez has a title shot. In fairness to match-makers, that one fight was a shock decision victory to the undefeated Selina Barrios. Hernandez’s plodding footwork highlighted her age, but Barrios’ failure to pressure to set the pace enabled Hernandez to launch flurries of punches in the pocket. While Hernandez cracks at unorthodox angles due to her low hands, Cameron approaches fights differently from Barrios. The WBC champion constantly frustrates opponents with relentless footwork and diverse entries. Barrios will struggle to land on Cameron as she peppers her with jabs for ten rounds.
Result: Cameron def. Hernandez // TKO Round 5 1:38
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Reshat Mati (9-0, 7KO) vs Ryan Pino (8-6-2, 4KO)
Reshat Mati, viral video sensation and seven-time international kickboxing champion, seems to have fully committed to professional boxing for the near future. Only twenty-two, and with a diverse martial arts background, Mati has been very slowly rolled out against tame opposition over the past couple of years. While Mati has accrued a fine list of highlight-reel knockouts, questions remain whether they will continue as tougher opposition is introduced? Mati is a patient counter-striker, who outside of a body jab, does little to force opponent’s to throw. Mati’s confidence in the pocket is evident, however, and many strings will be added to the Staten Island native’s bow.
Puerto Rican, Ryan Pino, is on a sad 0-5-2 slide, after kickstarting his career with an 8-1 record. Fighting behind a high guard, Pino’s defence is far too easily broken with the faintest of shots. Against Kevin Johnson (not the Heavyweight lmao), Pino wildly swung four-piece combinations in response to Johnson’s probing body jabs. A tough, durable man, Pino occasionally lands a decent counter, but he is far too loose when over-extending on the front foot.
Predicted Result: Mati TKO Round 5
Viral video sensation, Reshat Mati, continues on his boxing journey with yet another tame opponent. Puerto Rican, Ryan Pino, is currently riding an 0-5-2 slide and has shown little signs of turning it around. Pino’s high guard is far too easily broken. Sometimes off a feint, sometimes off a jab, Pino is easily baited into wild combinations that see him lunging into his shots. Mati is a patient counter-puncher, often too patient, but Pino will serve his chin on a platter for the twenty-two-year-old. Pino is a tough cookie but there will be far too many opportunities for Mati to land cleanly that the referee is forced to intervene.
Result: Mati def. Pino // Decision (unanimous – 58-56, 58-56, 60-54)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Ramla Ali (2-0) vs Mikayla Nebel (4-8, 1KO)
Women’s Super Bantamweight (122)
We have only reached Ramla Ali’s third professional fight and fans are already sick of hearing her backstory. While the Somali war refugee and her astonishing work in her home country are more than a reason to applaud, it is starting to prove grating in the lead-up to every single fight. Despite her youthful looks, Ali is already thirty-one and remains on a warpath of Super Bantamweight’s cans. There is no doubting the technical excellence of Ali, a top amateur before her move to the pros. Light on her feet, Ali wastes no movement and as such remains unpredictable in shot selection.
Mikayla Nebel, to her credit, has moved past the 0-6 start to her career (including two defeats to Heather Hardy) to find some success. Although only one of her four wins comes against an opponent with a victory on their record, Nebel is a durable grinder. Taking one to give one, Nebel continues to apply pressure from start to finish. It is a shame that Nebel often throws arm punches and fails to take advantage of effective mechanics.
Predicted Result: Ali Decision
Top amateur and owner of inspiring backstory, Ramla Ali, continues her warpath over Super Bantamweight cans. Already thirty-one years old, it is a surprise to see Ali once again be matched with a fighter several levels below her. Technically excellent, Ali wastes no movement in the ring. Digging powerful straight shots into the body has also been an excellent weapon behind Ali’s success. Nebel is a hearty journeywoman, having worked hard to rise beyond her 0-6 start to her professional career. Sadly, Nebel is largely reduced to her granite chin and arm punches – never utilising effective mechanics.
Result: Ali def. Nebel // Decision (unanimous – 60-54, 60-54, 60-54)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Khalil Coe (DEBUT) vs Nathaniel Tadd (2-4, 1KO)
Light Heavyweight (175)
Debutant, Khalil Coe, is yet another TEAM USA amateur that Eddie Hearn has managed to snap up. Coe rose to fame after he knocked out, Julio Cesar La Cruz, Cuba’s 2016 Olympic gold medallist. Light on his feet and heavy on the showmanship, Coe operates out of an extremely long stance. Massive for the weight, it will be interesting to follow Coe in a wide-open Light Heavyweight division.
After a 2-0 start to the pro-life, Tadd has since fallen to four defeats (albeit two controversial majority decision losses). While I was unable to find any tape online, I did find criminal charges related to the sexual assault of a child. Whether Tadd was convicted wasn’t confirmed, but he was arrested on those charges. Moreover, although unable to confirm, there is a Nathaniel Tadd from Houston, Texas who was also suspended from Taekwondo for two years following a positive methylhexaneamine test (stimulant).
Predicted Result: Coe Decision
Coe, yet another TEAM USA amateur that Eddie Hearn has snapped up, is a hard-hitting Light Heavyweight. Fighting out of a long stance, Coe’s massive frame forces opponents to awkwardly close distance to get within striking range. No more was this obvious after Coe knocked out Julio Cesar La Cruz, Cuba’s 2016 Olympic gold medallist. Nathaniel Tadd is on a four-fight slide to club fighters, and while unconfirmed, appears to have been suspended from Taekwondo back in the early 2010s due to methylhexaneamine (stimulant).
Result: Coe def. Tadd // TKO Round 2 1:10
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Haney vs Linares
2021 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: That was probably Linares’ last big push for a world title, warm congratulations on a huge career.
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