Devin Haney returned to action with a dominant defense of his WBC World Lightweight title against Yuriorkis Gamboa at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Florida, live on DAZN.
Haney (25-0 14 KOs) put his crown on the line for a second time, two days shy of one year out of the ring having injured his shoulder in his first defense against Alfredo Santiago in Los Angeles last November.
Haney soon got his spear-like jab upstairs and downstairs, Haney warmed into his first fight for a year in the opening six minutes and began to express his full arsenal in the third round, where Gamboa (30-4 18 KOs) also showed some frustration in hitting Haney after the break.
Gamboa began to shows signs of ambition in the middle rounds but WBC king Haney soon extinguished them, and the former unified Featherweight champion reverted back to trying to keep the Las Vegas starlet at bay, and his survival tactics met the wrath of the referee in the penultimate round where a point was taken from the challenger.
Haney showed no ill-effects of the shoulder injury or year lay-off as he came out firing on the final session, and while he was unable to put the cherry on top of a good night’s work by getting Gamboa out of there, the judges saw the action 118-109 and 120-107 twice as ‘The Dream’ got 12 vital rounds under his belt ahead of what proimises to be a stellar 2021 for the 135lb division.
“I’m pleased with the performance because I didn’t take any punishment,” said Haney. “I came out of there looking like I did when I went in, I was ready to fight again if I had to.
“I knew that he would go into survival mode and he was successful with that, he was in there trying to survive as much as he did. I pitched a shut-out and I didn’t get hit with any big shots, it is what it is.
“Of course I wanted the KO but every fight can’t end like that. Gamboa is a crafty opponent, he showed that he can survive, he showed why he has been in the game for a long time. Anyone that has knocked him out has taken punishment while doing it, I didn’t take any punishment and maybe that’s why I didn’t get the KO.
“I beat him the smartest. The jab, the reach, the speed and the ring IQ were the keys to victory. I showed that I am able to go 12 rounds, to hit and not get hit, you can talk about landing big shots but Gamboa didn’t land anything.
“There’s always going to be pressure, every fight is going to have everyone watching and critiquing what you do, I understand that. I am ready to put on a big 2021 and fight best and put on a statement to show the world that I am the best.
“I am interested in my mandatory of course but I want all the belts, Teofimo Lopez has the rest of the belts so I want to make the undisputed fight.”
A pair of Heavyweights put up their claims for major fights in 2021 with big KO statement wins.
Croatian heavyweight Filip Hrgovic produced a 5th straight stoppage win on Saturday night, handing a first ever stoppage loss to Rydell Booker.
From the outset Hrgovic was in control of the fight, taking the centre of the ring from the first bell and keeping Booker at range behind a solid jab.
Landing big shots throughout, ‘El Animal’ was able to pick shots off smartly against a man who took Kubrat Pulev the distance in his last fight.
In the second round Booker was on the canvas twice. While the first was deemed a slip, the second was very much thanks to a heavy blow from the dominant Hrgovic. Able to let his hands go while Booker was on the ropes toward the end of the round, a powerful hook had the American down.
After more sustained pressure, throughout the third and fourth, with Booker rarely able to muster up much in way of return, Hrgovic closed the show. Giving his man no openings and landing too many of his own, the referee waved the fight off and Hrgovic took his record to 12 – 0 – 10KO’s.
After the fight Hrgovic said “I have a message to the heavyweight division. Fight me. There are big fights out there, I am ready for all of them. I can out box and I can knockout. Tonight, Rydell was good and it was good to get the win against him, but now I want to look to who is next. I am ready.
Promoter Nisse Sauerland followed “Tonight we saw Filip do what he said he was going to do at the press conference. He was going to outbox and knockout a man who hadn’t been knocked out before. He showed his ability to control fights, he has 10 knockouts from 12 fights, 5 now consecutive.”
“Credit to Rydell Booker, he took the fight and tried to come forward. He’s a good boxer with a good record, but tonight he had no way of finding a way through. Filip belongs at the top table, and soon he’ll be there.”
Zhilei Zhang (22-0 17 KOs) lived up to his ‘Big Bang’ nickname, exploding a one-two on the chin of Devin Vargas (22-7 9 KOs) to end their clash in the fourth round. The giant Chinese star was meticulous in breaking his man down, and the two-time Olympian chose the perfect time to step on the gas and delivered his warning shot to the rest of the division in devastating style.
It was a great night for three of Matchroom’s young prospects.
Reshat Mati (8-0 6 KOs) sent Marcos Mojica (17-6-2 13 KOs) to the canvas inside the opening minute as a big right hand stiffened the legs of Mojica and a clipping left sent him down. Mojica survived the round, but Mati started to land the uppercut and delivered one with his left hand to end proceedings in the second.
Raymond Ford (7-0 3 KOs) demanded a dazzling performance from himself in the build-up to Saturday night’s action and the New Jersey starlet certainly delivered with a third round stoppage in Florida over Rafael Reyes (18-11 7 KOs). Ford had Reyes down in the opening session with a nice left hand and there was more spiteful stuff in the third round as a spearing left nearly put the Mexican through the ropes, and a barrage of punches followed to end the action and record the third stoppage of his pro career.
Arthur Biyarslanov (7-0 6 KOs) had the shortest night of his blossoming pro career, dispatching Juan Jose Martinez (28-10 20 KOs) inside a minute of the fight, with The Wolf landing a right hand to the temple that Martinez just couldn’t recover from.
In the first bout of the night, Devin Haney Promotions’ exciting Super-Bantamweight Darren Cunningham (12-0 6 KOs) scored a shut-out over six rounds against Juan Gabriel Medina (11-5 10 KOs).