Lightweight prospect Devin Haney rose to the occasion in what was the toughest test of his career, defeating veteran Mason Menard via ninth-round TKO in the main event at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.
Haney (20-0, 13 KOs) entered the fight as a highly regarded prospect who had never been tested. He faced his first test on Friday in what was a scheduled 10-round bout against ShoBox veteran Menard (33-3, 24 KOs).
Haney took control of the fight from the opening bell and never relinquished it. The 19-year-old picked off Menard with a dominating jab from the outside and used lateral movement to avoid getting hit. Menard was unable to land any meaningful punches and he looked sluggish compared to Haney’s consistent movement and athleticism.
After nine rounds of domination, Menard’s corner had seen enough and stopped the fight following the round. Haney passed the toughest test of his career with flying colors, never once letting Menard take control of the fight.
"The plan was to go in there and work off the jab," Haney said. "If the knockout came, I would take it but I just went in there, put on a boxing clinic and showed the world that I could go the full 10 rounds.
"I feel like I put on a performance. I was relaxed and did my job. I’m definitely the next superstar. There’s only bigger and better things from here on out. I work very hard. I went in and put on a good performance against a guy that people said could knock me out or hurt me."
Following the fight, a defeated Menard was respectful of Haney’s performance.
"He never hurt me. He was catching me with the best shots he could and never hurt me. But the kid can definitely fight," Menard admitted.
In the 10-round co-feature, super bantamweight prospect Joshua "Don’t Blink" Greer (17-1-1, 9 KOs) scored his third ShoBox knockout against Baltimore native Glenn Dezurn (9-1-2, 6 KOs).
The fight was explosive from the outset, with both fighters pushing the pace. Greer took advantage of Dezurn’s high guard to work the body, while Dezurn pushed forward to engage Greer on the inside. Greer began to dominate in the third round, when a big right hand hurt Dezurn with two minutes remaining.
"I knew he would come hard so I put I the work in the gym to make sure I was ready," said Greer. "I’m just happy everything paid off."
Greer hurt Dezurn again in the fifth round with a straight left, and eventually tied him up against the ropes with a succession of blows that almost had Dezurn’s trainer Barry Hunter stopping the fight. After the round, Hunter warned Dezurn that he would stop the fight if Dezurn didn’t fight back.
Despite almost going down in the fifth, Dezurn survived for three more rounds. The injured and exhausted Dezurn wasn’t able to put anything behind his punches and hit the canvas in the eighth round for the first time in his career before referee Benjy Esteves stopped the fight with 1:47 remaining.
"I got caught with a few good shots, but I recovered quickly and I was still in the fight," Dezurn said. "I have a lot of heart, which is a gift and a curse for me."
A confident Greer was pleased with his performance after the fight.
"I wasn’t surprised I could knock him out," Greer said. "I knew I could break his will."
In an eight-round featured attraction, light heavyweight prospect Charles Foster (16-0, 8 KOs) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision win against Alvin Varmall Jr. (15-0-2, 12 KOs), scored 77-75, 78-74, 79-73.
Foster dominated the fight from the outset, controlling the scrappy Varmall, who became the 174th fighter to suffer his first loss onShoBox. Varmall made a valiant attempt to get inside in the early rounds, but a more disciplined Foster held him at bay, with Vermall stumbling and getting tied up inside.
"My experience was the difference," Foster said. "He was loading up on one punches and I was sticking to my game plan - sticking behind the jab, working the body."
Foster peppered Varmall with his lead left hand, tagging his opponent enough to break him down and eventually tire him out. Varmall landed a couple of statement shots but wasn’t able to hurt Foster and by the later rounds, his punches lacked power.
"When he would come on the inside he couldn’t hurt me," Foster said. "I was the one controlling the entire fight."
In the opening bout of the four-fight Showtime telecast, super bantamweight Arnold Khegai kept his unblemished record intact with a unanimous decision over veteran Adam Lopez, scored 77-74, 77-74, 78-73.
Making his U.S. debut, the controlled Khegai (12-0-1, 8 KOs) pressed the action from the start. Khegai worked the jab and stayed mobile, capitalizing on a wobbly Lopez (16-2-3, 8 KOs) with a perfectly timed counter punch with 30 seconds remaining in the second round. Khegai stayed busy in the early rounds with consistent counter punches, but earned a point deduction for a hit to the back of Lopez’s head with seconds remaining in the sixth round.
"That was my first fight in the U.S. and I wanted to show something special," Khegai said. "Everyone was waiting for the knockout, but I wanted to show my boxing skills. I could have gone for the KO in the middle of the fight, but I wanted to prove that I could box."
Despite a slight dip in productivity in the later rounds, the Ukrainian stayed efficient, landing 31 body shots compared to just 15 from Lopez.
Lopez, caught off guard by Khegai’s fighting style, was disappointed by his performance in his record-setting seventh ShoBoxappearance.
"I was expecting him to be a dirty fighter, but it kind of threw me off my game. The referee kept telling me ’don’t retaliate, don’t retaliate.’
"I couldn’t really land my hard shots. I landed a couple," Lopez said. "I stunned him in the fourth or fifth with a right uppercut. He got rocked a little bit, but he’s a good fighter. He got out of it."