By Keith Idec
Devin Haney anticipates the most difficult fight of his blossoming boxing career Friday night.
The unbeaten Haney will face another undefeated fighter, Xolisani Ndongeni, in the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader Friday night in Shreveport, Louisiana. South Africa’s Ndongeni hasn’t beaten a legitimate lightweight contender, but he is undefeated (25-0, 13 KOs) during a career that began in May 2010.
“On paper, I feel like he’s my toughest test up to date,” Haney told BoxingScene.com. “He’s undefeated for a reason. He went 12 rounds numerous times [six]. He had the IBO [International] world title, so this guy has been a world champion. He’s no slouch.”
Las Vegas’ Haney (20-0, 13 KOs) is just 20 years old, yet he, too, represents the toughest opponent of Ndongeni’s career.
“I think he’s a good fighter,” said Haney, who’s viewed as one of boxing’s best prospects. “I think it’s another step up. Every fight, I keep stepping it up, with tougher opposition. This is gonna be a good fight for the fans and for the boxing fans to see what I’m made of.”
In his last fight, Haney convincingly beat Juan Carlos Burgos in a 10-rounder September 28 at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California. Mexico’s Burgos (33-3-2, 21 KOs) hadn’t lost since Mikey Garcia out-pointed him by unanimous decision in their January 2014 bout in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Burgos had boxed just three times between facing Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) and Haney. He also had enjoyed most of his success as a featherweight, two divisions below the lightweight limit at which Haney beat him.
Ndongeni, 28, has been a full-fledged lightweight for the past five years. Haney’s opponent also is eager to introduce himself to American boxing fans by pulling off what would be considered a big upset.
“I feel like it’s a target on my back,” Haney said. “For anyone that fights me, they feel like they’re headed for the sky. They’ll get a title shot or a title eliminator.
“I’m ranked in the top 10 in three different organizations. This guy, he’s ranked in the top 10 as well. I feel like I should be in a title eliminator, at least, in my next fight.”
Haney-Ndongeni will headline a three-bout broadcast scheduled to begin Friday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT from Stage Works, a studio complex in downtown Shreveport.
The telecast will begin with an eight-round heavyweight bout that’ll pit Cuba’s Frank Sanchez (10-0, 8 KOs, 1 NC) against Indianapolis’ Willie Jake Jr. (8-1-1, 2 KOs). In the co-featured fight, Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs), of Salinas, California, will encounter Colombia’s Ruben Cervera (10-0, 9 KOs, 1 NC) in an eight-round battle between featherweight prospects.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.