GIVE A GRADE: Haney Earns A Straight B For His Effort Versus Linares
On Saturday night, DAZN provided fight fans an excellent card full of fun and excitement. DAZN's main event featured the young Devin Haney (26-0, 15 KOs) defending his WBC lightweight title against Jorge Linares (47-6, 29 KOs), a tough, battle-hardened veteran looking to capture another world title.
The night featured a total of five bouts which showcased 10 fighters. The fights were thrilling and provided fight fans a sampling menu of boxing’s beauty, brutality, and of course, controversy. After 48 hours of analyzing the fights, I’ve compiled my report card and letter grade assessments of the fighters. Here we go!
Kahlil Coe, Grade: B
In his pro debut, expectations were high for the talented young man from Jersey City, N.J., and he didn't disappoint. He dispatched his opponent in the first round with a relentless attack on the body. While Kahlil didn't give us many rounds, the 1 minute and 50 seconds I did see were enough to grade him a solid B.
Coe displayed solid boxing skills and a smooth relaxed composure while dismantling Nathaniel Tadd.
Coe dropped Tadd three times while attacking the body. Most fighters don't attack the body as they are making their transition into the pro-ranks.
Additionally, after the first knockdown, he didn't mindlessly charge his opponent when he smelled blood in the waters. Coe calmly resumed his attack on the body until the referee decided Tadd had enough.
Khalili Coe earns a solid B in my grade book for knocking out his opponent while attacking his body and staying composed in his pro-debut.
Azinga Fuzile: Grade C+
Azinga Fuzile (15-1, 9 KOs) faced off against Martin J. Ward (24-2-2, 11 KOs) in a 130 pound IBF eliminator match. The fight started off slow while the two fighters assessed each other. However, it didn't take long to heat up, and when it did, both fighters were giving and taking the best each had to offer. Fuzile was the sharper of the two fighters, and he effectively countered Ward. However, Ward's awkward hand movements and rushing attack confused Fuzile for much of the fight. Being the sharper and most talented of the two fighters, Fuzile failed to effectively create angles and dominate the slower Ward.
Additionally, the one time he did have Ward hurt, Fuzile failed to capitalize and end the fight. Lastly, an awkward entanglement of their legs occurred during an exchange of punches. As a result, Ward suffered an apparent knee injury that he couldn't recover from, leading his corner to stop the fight in the 8th round. The fight ended in underwhelming fashion, and Fuzile failed to knock Ward out when he had him hurt earlier in the fight. Compared to the other champions in the division, I believe Fuzile is easy pickings for them in a title fight.
Shane Mosley Jr and Jason Quigley: Grade B-
Shane Mosely Jr. and Jason Quigley waged war in a fight that was entertaining and went the distance. Both fighters had their moments in the fight. Shane had the upper hand in the earlier moments of the battle and was landing effectively on Quigley. However, in the middle rounds, Quigley started to time Shane's lazy jab and began to come over the top of it and made a permanent residence for his right hand on Mosley's face. This went on for another two rounds while Shane stood in front of Quigley and ate a buffet of straight rights. Quigley chipped away at Shane's lead little by little and seemed to be taking over the fight.
In the final rounds, Shane bites down, sits on his punches, and exchanges furiously with Quigley. While Shane was dishing out punishment, the Irish native gave back as much as he received, leaving the last rounds close enough to go in favor of either fighter. The result was a majority decision in Quigley's favor.
Many fans saw the fight as a draw, while many others agree with the decision. Either way, neither fighter seemed to separate himself clearly above the other. While Shane had successful moments, he failed to use his physical attributes and establish an effective jab/straight-right combination that could've easily picked off Quigley. Shane is too far advanced in his career and should know this.
On the other hand, Quigley allowed Shane to get back into the fight during the later rounds. While these two fought valiantly and gave us an exciting battle, neither one of them could clearly separate himself from the other. And for those reasons, each one of them gets a B- minus in the grade books and leaves many wondering if either one can win a world title.
Chantelle Cameron: Grade A
Chantelle Cameron (14-0, 8 KOs) defended her WBC World Female Super Lightweight title against the gritty, tough-nosed veteran Melissa Hernandez. Cameron dominated the fight from the opening bell and left no doubt in our minds who was the champion and who was the challenger. Cameron was landing at will and had Hernandez in trouble for much of the fight. Cameron's fantastic performance and win were marred by a controversial, and what many consider a premature stoppage, during arguably Hernandez's best round.
Unfortunately, the debate about whether the fight should've been stopped overshadowed Cameron's performance. Nevertheless, Cameron successfully defended her title and dominated an aging former world champion in doing so. For her dominant and word-class performance, Cameron earns a solid A in the grade book.
Devin Haney: Grade B
Devin Haney successfully defended his WBC Lightweight world title against the hardened former world champion Jorge Linares. Many fans and boxing pundits considered this Haney's coming-out party and the first significant test of his pro career.
This was Haney's chance to quiet the naysayers and let them know that he was a “legitimate” champion in the division. Haney looked to be doing just that for the majority of the fight. Haney was besting Linares with his hand and foot speed from the opening bell, a sharp jab that snapped Linares' head back repeatedly, and some slick in and out fighting. Haney was putting on a boxing clinic and silencing his critics.
Then came a pivotal moment in the 10th round. Haney's success was halted with one solid short right from Linares that had Haney dancing the merengue on his way back to the corner. Haney was clearly hurt by that punch and had difficulty regaining his legs for much of the 11th round. Haney “bromanced” his way through the 11th, hugging and attempting to slow down the onslaught and survive the remainder of the round.
In the 12th round, Haney regained some of the feelings in his legs and had moments of success. However, his body language was still screaming survival. Later in the round, Linares would land another hard punch that would hurt Haney and leave him flaying for more hugs to get through to the final bell.
Haney's earlier success cemented the win, but his overall performance against an aging veteran did little to quiet the peanut gallery. He allowed an aging veteran to hurt him, and he was unable to knock out Linares, a fighter whose previous losses were all by knockout. His only recovering tactic was to hug his opponent during the championship rounds. For his performance, Haney earns a B in my grade book.
My Take: Matchroom and DAZN put together an exceptional card that provided us with thrilling fights that were fun and entertaining. A tremendous pro-debut, action-packed fights, drama, and high caliber boxing was on full display. Most of the pre-fight talk amongst casual and hardcore fight fans was how Devin Haney would fair against a top-tiered opponent. Haney has been subject to a lot of criticism about his legitimacy as a world champion and the quality of his resume. Despite performing brilliantly during the earlier stages of the fight, he left the door open for more criticism after he got rocked by Linares. He left many of us questioning how his chin will hold up against the other champions in the division. That's a division in which each champion packs a ton of dynamite in their punches.
Regarding Jorge Linares, I believe he no longer possesses what is necessary to win another world title. While he is still a great fighter, it is evident that “Father Time” is catching up to him. He is a former multiple world titleholder in three weight classes, with a decorated career spanning 19 years, and he has nothing left to prove.
While Devin Haney “legitimately” won this fight, many considered this fight his first “real” test. This sentiment still lingering during his third defense of a major world title says a lot about him as champion, the WBC, and probably the sport of boxing as a whole.