In taking the WBC junior welterweight title from Regis Prograis, Devin Haney didn't pitch a no-hitter (although he certainly came close) but he did hurl a shutout. After 12 increasingly one-sided rounds at the Chase Center in California, it was Haney winning by the scores of 120-107 across the board.
What was thought to be an interesting match-up of boxer versus puncher, became instead an exhibition of boxing from Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) who never allowed Prograis (29-2, 24 KOs) to get a bead on him.
The 'Rougarou' didn't leave the swamp on Saturday; his feet were stuck in the mud for 12 rounds (shout out to @KwaMegaMan on Twitter for that line). Outside of when they touched them up before the opening bell, Prograis didn't ever seem to make solid contact with the well-schooled Haney. After a relatively even first two stanza's, Haney struck Prograis with a quick right hand in the third that sent down the defending champion.
Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing
You got the sense at the very moment that this would be Haney's night. And not only did he out-box Prograis as expected, he was also the harder, sharper puncher throughout this bout. There were several times where Prograis was staggered. It's clear that the move up in weight to 140 has benefitted Haney, who in the past has had some shaky moments as a lightweight.
Coming into this contest, Prograis and his followers were banking on wearing down Haney and coming on late in the fight as others had by steadily closing the gap and eventually taking away his space. But this version of Haney was stout for all 36 minutes of this bout. Not only were his hands quicker, but his footwork and legs allowed Haney to easily dart in-and-out on Prograis. Haney had total tactical control of this fight from the very onset.
This was a boxing clinic from the Bay Area. It's not just that he won, but how dominant he was in doing so.
As for Prograis, he was never in this fight. He was a step slow the whole night, and he was never able to ever corral Haney. As the night went on, his face became more and more marked up. You wonder if at age 34 if Prograis has begun his descent as a prizefighter. While Haney isn't necessarily Julian Jackson as a puncher, it's clear that his quick salvos have a bit of sting on them at 140.
Ed Muholland/Matchroom Boxing
This concludes a 2023 campaign for Haney that saw him defeat the highly regarded Vasiliy Lomachenko (albeit in controversial fashion), and Prograis, who came into this contest as the second ranked junior welterweight by Ring Magazine. By today's standards, that is a solid year. Whether that makes him the 'fighter of the year' is debatable but he will be invited to the awards banquet.
Since the beginning of 2021, Haney has collected the scalps of Joseph Diaz, Jorge Linares, then captured the undisputed lightweight title by defeating George Kambosos twice in Australia, and now Lomachenko and Prograis. And he just 25. Yeah, yeah, I understand that you can poke holes in any resume', especially in modern day boxing, but I would then ask: what has your favorite boxer done in comparison in recent years?
Yes, does he still have to mix with the likes of Teofimo Lopez or Subriel Matias, to truly prove his supremacy at junior welterweight. (As for Gervonta Davis, well the cult of Tank is now insisting that Haney now face IBF welterweight titlist, Jaron Ennis. So yeah.)
But no longer can he be ignored by the marquee names in this weight class, because he is now one of them.
Meanwhile on ESPN from Pembroke Pines, Florida, there was a barnburner of a fight took place between WBO featherweight belt-holder, Robeisy Ramirez, and unheralded challenger, Rafael Espinoza(24-0, 20 KOs), who came in as a heavy underdog.
But Espinoza -- who perhaps should be called 'Girrafa', as he somehow makes the 126-pound limit while being 6'1 -- just kept chipping away at the skilled Cuban. Espinoza hit the deck hard at the end of the fifth round. It looked like at that juncture that Ramirez would take control of the proceedings.
But the Sebastian Fundora-esque featherweight from Mexico just kept at it, and in the 12th round he finished the fight with a flourish, letting his hands go at will, and finally Ramirez (13-2, 8 KOs) hit the deck in the final seconds of the contest. He was simply overwhelmed by all the leather that came his way.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
And it was that late knockdown that propelled Espinoza to a majority decision by the tallies of 113-113, 114-112 and 115-111.
An upset, and fight of the year candidate all in one.
Bruce Carrington looked spectacular in stopping Jason Sanchez in two rounds. He is a featherweight to keep an eye on moving forward....Looks like maybe the man-strength of Xander Zayas is coming to him. He looked solid in stopping Jorge Fortea in five with a serious left hooks to the body....Andy Cruz opened some eyes with his performance on the Matchroom undercard....Liam Paro showed Montana no love...The Ohara Davies-Ismael Barroso bout has been re-scheduled for the Vergil Oritz-Frederick Lawson card on January 6....I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org....