Fight Week Preview

Gary Kittilsen

World championship boxing returns to the US this weekend. Two major fight cards both featuring world title bouts will dominate this week’s prizefighting landscape.

Conor Benn on Haney vs. Linares: 'Someone will be going down' ⋆ Boxing News  24

The action kicks off in Las Vegas, Nevada as WBC Lightweight world titleholder Devin “The Dream” Haney will defend his version of the WBC belt against former pound-for-pound star and three-division world champion Jorge “El Nino de Oro” Linares. The 22-year-old Haney sports a perfect 25-0 record and is coming off the best performance of his young but spectacular career. A near-perfect 12-round unanimous decision over Cuban superstar Yuriorkis Gamboa last November. That was the first defense for Haney of the vacant belt, that he won by destroying Alfredo Santiago a year prior. Linares sports an impressive record of 47-5 and has held world titles at 126,130 &135-pounds and last fought 15 months ago when he destroyed rugged opponent Carlos Morales in four-rounds. It was the second consecutive win for Linares since being blown out by former world title challenger Pablo Caesar Cano in just one round back in 2019 at Madison Square Garden. The undercard features 140-pound WBC woman’s world titleholder, Chantelle Cameron of Northampton, UK, putting her belt and perfect record on the line against the best and most experienced opponent of her career Melissa Hernandez of Puerto Rico. Hernadez scored a highly impressive unanimous decision in her last outing against Selina Barrios, the older sister of 140-pound men’s world titleholder Mario Barrios, back in April of 2019 but has been inactive since. Also, once-beaten 130-pound contender Martin Joseph Ward looks to continue his impressive five-fight win streak when he takes on Azinga Fuzile, who looks to bounce back from his 2019 stoppage loss to Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov. Also, two fringe middleweight contenders look to get back in the world title picture when Jason Quigley originally of Ballybofey, Ireland battles Shane Mosley Jr in a 10-round affair.

In Saturday’s other big-time card, WBC world titleholder Nordine Oubaali puts his title and perfect 17-0 (12) record on the line against the legendary multi-division world champion and future hall of famer Nonito Donaire in the main event at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Oubaali won the belt by outpointing former world champ and three-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren back in January of 2019. He went on to defend the belt twice more that year against Arthur Villanueva and Takuma Inoue but has been inactive since then due to the pandemic. Donaire, the legendary Filipino Flash, has held major world titles in four different weight classes and is now 38-years-old but is coming off a fight of the year type scrap with pound-for-pound elite and knockout artist Naoya Inoue in in November of 2017. Donaire has been in with the best of the best in every division from 112 all the way up to 130 and will enter the Oubaali fight a live underdog. In what should be a highly competitive and fan-friendly co-main event Subriel Matias, who bounced back nicely from his lone career defeat to stop then-undefeated Malik Hawkins, last October will take on another undefeated fighter in Batyrzhan Jukembayev, originally of Uzbekistan now residing in Montreal, Canada. Jukembayev, is largely unknown and has never fought in the US or the UK but has secured victories over Ricardo Lara and Miguel Vazquez. The bout is an IBF140-pound title eliminator. Two other highly touted prospects are also featured on the undercard. Gary Antuanne Russell, brother of long-reigning featherweight champ Gary Russell Jr, battles Jovanie Santiago, who came up on the wrong side of a very close, very controversial, division to former world champ Adrien Broner back in February. Additionally, unbeaten Dominican, slickster Luis David Salazar, makes his US debut and takes on an 8-2 opponent named Kevin Johnson.


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