By: Oliver McManus
You’d imagine young Devin Haney has been watching compilations of Deontay Wilder in the last week as the 20 year old produced a highlight reel knockout, reminiscent of the Bronze Bomber, to stop Antonio Moran in the seventh round last night.
Floyd Mayweather’s protege was in his first fight under the DAZN banner and looked eager to make a statement as soon as the first bell rung. In previous contests there was an air of predictability to Haney with him happy to pick off rounds by doing the same thing, effectively, and keeping the contest permanently out of his opponent’s grasp: this fight was a punch perfect display of brutality.
You could probably make a case for Moran starting off the livelier of fighters with the Mexcian looking to box on the front foot but an overhand right from Haney foreshadowed what was to be Moran’s downfall. Haney’s challenger was anything but a ‘typical Mexican’ and appeared a little subdued in his attempts to provide pressure of his own – nothing like the gusto of South America that we know and love.
The champion, defending his WBC International and WBO Inter-Continental belt, was always on top of proceedings be it through a jab that continually peppered the midriff of Moran or as a result of his crisp footwork that took him out of range of his opponent’s swinging limbs. The jab always seemed to be hiding something. It was never a throwaway shot intended to see him through on the scorecards but always with spiteful intentions to set up a fight-finishing attack.
Haney provided good variety to his shots, as well, as he dropped Moran to the floor with a perfectly timed body shot that sapped any remaining will away from the Mexican. For the rest of the fifth round you could feel blood in the water and Haney went after it with a swift salvo of uppercuts interspersed with slamming hooks back to the body. A quieter sixth followed but the seventh round showed why Haney opted to sit on the backburner with a creepily calculated finish to the fight duly following.
An innocent one-two backed Moran up onto the ropes and Haney needed just two shots to finish it from there; a wicked body punch to draw his adversary’s guard down and provide the opening for as clean an overhand right you’ve ever seen from a man born outside of Alabama. Sheer strength akin to Deontay Wilder mixed with the precision and timing of someone like Darcey Bussell – balletic brutality from Devin Haney as he moves to 22-0.
Michael Hunter continued his sudden surge up the heavyweight rankings with an underrated stoppage of Fabio Maldonado. His Brazilian opponent looked as dreich and dour as he has done in any previous step-up with the former UFC fighter holding his guard nervously around the upper chest. Hunter was quick to settle into a rhythm and was teeing off on the face of Maldonado instantly; particularly pleasing was the straight left hand that Hunter would send bolting upwards, colliding smack on the nose of Maldonado time after time, having planted his front foot firmly in the canvas.
The contest never looked like it would last the scheduled ten rounds with Maldonado wobbled easily by the power of Hunter – a lovely one-two straight down the gulley marked the start of the finish as the Brazilian stumbled towards the ropes. Heavy artillery followed as The Bounty Hunter chased his loot with wild swinging shots. His disheveled opponent cut an apathetic look and the referee called a halt to the contest in the second round. Stating the obvious but you can tell Hunter used to be a cruiserweight, the way he dances around the ring with such flight of fancy, but he’s got the heavyweight power to cause serious issues.
It was an even shorter night of work for Filip Hrgovic who required less than a round to dispose of Gregory Corbin. The face of Croatian boxing looked to be searching from the off and he lept in with his jab at every possible opportunity, trying to close the distance in sudden bursts. Corbin, himself, was opting for a similar strategy but he had the odd tendency to dip his about six inches lower when looking to land speculative overhand rights. Hrgovic capitalised on that routine with a succinct step backwards followed a sharp, digging right hand to the cheek of Corbin that saw the American sprawled on the his back. There isn’t really much you can learn from that sort of fight except to say the tactical awareness of Hrgovic was spot on and the execution to back that up was scintillating.
The headline grabber has to be Devin Haney, however, with a performance that, really, showed us exactly why he is so highly touted. A contender for knockout of the year, to boot, and The Dream finds himself firmly on track for achieving just that. We might have to rename the ‘Wilder Windmill’ whilst if Haney can help it – ‘Haney’s Hammer” has an awfully nice ring to it…