By: Hector Franco
SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA – At Stageworks of Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana, top lightweight prospect Devin Haney (21-0, 13 KOs) made his third appearance on Showtime’s ShoBox series. Haney faced off against South Africa’s Xolisani Ndongeni (25-1, 13 KOs) who was undefeated at the time of the bout. Ndongeni was considered the toughest fight of Haney’s career thus far. While Ndongeni had the advantage in professional experience, Haney held an advantage in having taken place in 138 amateur bouts compared to the South African’s 30.
The 20-year old Las Vegas fighter took charge of the bout from the beginning. In the last twenty seconds of the first round, Haney landed a left and right hand that visibly hurt Ndongeni. In the second round, Haney landed a right hand that knocked Ndongeni to the canvas marking just the second time the South African has been knocked down as a professional. As the fight continued, the bout followed a similar pattern round by round with Haney coming forward landing jabs and right hands.
In the fifth round, Haney began to emphasize more of a body attack that seemed to have more of an impact on Ndongeni. Through the second half of the match, Haney won almost every round by out-landing Ndongeni who didn’t have a plan B for what Haney brought to the table.
In the tenth and final round, Haney almost scored a stoppage as he unloaded a barrage of punches on Ndongeni who made it to the closing bell. Haney was awarded a unanimous decision victory with scores of 100-89 twice and 99-90. The young fighter was also able to land 237 out of 590 of his total punches at a 40 percent connect rate.
Haney’s goal with this bout was to move from being considered a prospect to a contender in the lightweight division. At 20 years old, Haney still has plenty of time to develop more of his skills and gain more strength and power. At 5’9 with a 71-inch reach, Haney could present problems for many fighters in the lightweight division. More importantly in the future, we could see him face off against some of the best fighters in one of boxing’s most lucrative divisions at welterweight.
In the main supporting bout for the night, Salinas, California’s Ruben Villa (15-0, 4 KOs) showcased a wide variety of his skill set as he won a wide unanimous decision over Colombia’s Ruben Cervera (10-1, 9 KOs). Villa proved himself to be one of the top prospects in the featherweight division dominating and outboxing the Colombian power puncher through eight rounds.
While not the biggest puncher, Villa is accurate and knows how to turn and circle his opponents to land clean punches. The California native was able to land 180 out of 443 total punches at a 41 percent connect rate on Cervera. Throughout the fight and as the rounds continued Cervera looked more and more frustrated. This was Cervera’s first fight outside of his native Columbia, and at times he looked lost in the ring. However, credit has to be given to Villa’s boxing prowess. All three judges scored the bout 80-72 in favor of Villa.
As Villa continues on his path to improvement and facing increasingly more robust competition, it will be interesting to see what impact his current lack of punching power has in the featherweight division. The 21-year old Olympian already has a solid foundation of technical skills and fans should keep an eye on him for future showdowns in the featherweight division.
To open the telecast fans witnessed some heavyweight action as Cuban heavyweight Frank Sanchez (11-0, 9 KOs) scored a devastating second-round knockout over Indiana’s Willie Jake Jr. (8-2-1, 2 KOs). Sanchez was able to corner Jake landing a right hand followed by a left hook that sent the Indiana native face first to the canvas. The bout was stopped at the 2:59 mark of round 2.
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