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Avila Perspective, Chap 59: Devin Haney, Chris Arreola and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap 59: Devin Haney, Chris Arreola and More

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    By David A. Avila

    Just how good is the flashy Devin Haney of Las Vegas?

    When Matchroom Boxing announced its impressive package of fights led by the lightweight contender Haney (22-0, 14 KOs) against the heralded Russian prospect Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7KOs) on Sept. 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, it signaled that the restraints are off for their hot rod talent.

    Haney’s like a top fuel dragster built from scratch one part at a time and fueled with nitro. Since the beginning he’s been tested on the mean streets of Tijuana and graduated with an impressive decision win over that town’s hardboiled Juan Carlos Burgos last year.

    Follow up wins over undefeated Xolisani Ndongeni and Antonio Moran further provided proof that Haney’s ready for top competition.

    But what about Abdullaev?

    Ever since Vasyl Lomachenko arrived it seems every boxer from Ukraine, Russia or Kazakhstan is hailed as the next version of the Ukrainian boxer. They point at the amateur plaudits and undefeated record and figure it all adds up to another Loma.

    The winner of this fight heads toward the finals in the lightweight division to possibly face the winner of Lomachenko and Luke Campbell.

    Eddie Hearn, head of Matchroom Boxing that co-promotes Haney, believes the Las Vegan is capable of defeating both Abdullaev and Lomachenko.

    “We’re so excited that we get to represent (Haney). He’s a guy who’s ready to fight the best right now because he wants the winner of Lomachenko and Campbell. He wants Lomachenko,” said Hearn.

    Despite the lack of patience on Haney’s part, he’s not expecting a blowout victory.

    “I know Zaur Abdullaev is a tough opponent and he wants to upset me and take my spot so I’m not taking him lightly,” said Haney on Thursday. “This is a fight that will put me right there. This is the final eliminator and then I will be fighting for a world title. I’m just going to go there and show the world what Devin Haney is made of.”

    The 12-round elimination bout between Haney and Abdullaev takes place at the Hulu Theater Madison Square Garden. DAZN will stream the elimination bout plus the super bantamweight clash between WBA and IBF world titlist Danny Roman and Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Another bout will be Amanda Serrano versus Heather Hardy in a female world title clash.

    Chris Arreola

    Whether Chris “the Nightmare” Arreola retires or not, the Chicano heavyweight prizefighter with a penchant for beer, wise cracks and a wicked right cross also exacted “what if” questions from many journalists who covered his career.

    What if Arreola trained 100 percent and fought three minutes of every round? Or, what if the Riverside fighter faced a younger version of himself?

    All those “what if” questions were answered emphatically this past weekend as Arreola and Adam Kownacki shattered the heavyweight record for punches thrown at more than 1,000. Though Arreola claimed he would retire if defeated, the door remains wide open after his impressive showing before a national TV audience numbering more than 1.7 million on FOX.

    Arreola, 38, always could fight and always could talk. Those are two powerful side by side weapons in this day of media overload.

    Fight fans have always loved to hear Arreola. He’s the Yogi Berra of boxing with his brutally honest assessments and keen observations. No story was ever boring when he was the center of the subject.

    Even in defeat Arreola was a victor at the post fight interviews.

    Boxing experts always failed to see beyond the slightly bloated body and often dismissed him as not serious for the sweet science. Early in his career promoters passed on Arreola though he exhibited rocket power in both fists. It was an oversight that soon became apparent as the Riverside fighter from East L.A. began knocking off contender after contender before a world title shot arrived against Vitali Klitschko in 2009.

    Ten years ago, more than half of the spectators that arrived at the Staples Center in Los Angeles were fans of “the Nightmare.” Though he lost the fight he gained respect as a rare Chicano heavyweight capable of competing for one of sports’ most coveted awards, the heavyweight world championship.

    “You don’t play boxing,” said Arreola on more than one occasion.

    Arreola wasn’t playing when he bounced blows on and received blows from Kownacki with scattered smiles during their 12 heated rounds.

    Fights to watch

    Sat. Aug. 10, DAZN 4 p.m. Vergil Ortiz (13-0) vs Antonio Orozco (28-1).

    Sat. Aug. 10, ESPN+ 5 p.m. Jason Sosa (22-3-4) vs Haskell Lydell Rhodes (27-3-1).

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel