"Lomachenko, this guy doesn't want to fight me," claimed Haney, the mandatory challenger for the WBC, WBA and WBO belts owned by Lomachenko. "I'm ready to fight. Lomachenko should be fighting me." He might, but the Ukrainian also is interested in unifying the lightweight title, which would mean taking on the IBF champion, Richard Commey, next.
That's how boxing goes these days, but as many observers at Madison Square Garden noted, Haney is only going to get better and stronger as he matures. Ring doctors ended the fight with Abdullaev at the bell to start the fifth round, citing a suspected broken cheekbone for the Russian. He never challenged Haney and was blooded in the fourth.
Haney is 23-0 and it's the 15th time he has stopped an opponent. He has made no secret that Lomachenko, considered by some the world's best fighter, is on his radar. Haney, 20, looked solid in his first bout at the Garden's theater. His jab was quick and he landed several strong combinations in controlling the action.
Earlier, Brooklyn was in the ring, and in the house. Amanda Serrano outclassed Heather Hardy with a relentless attack to take away the WBO women's featherweight title and grab the WBC interim crown before a raucous crowd. They are two of America's best women boxers, though Serrano was born in Puerto Rico. Both represent the borough just across the East River from Madison Square Garden, and their fans filled the Garden's theater, creating a raucous atmosphere that would have fit for a Rangers game in the big arena.
"It was a great night," Serrano said, thanking her fans for their support after winning a unanimous decision. "She is as tough as they come," Serrano added about Hardy, who looked done in the opening round. "She stayed for 10 rounds."
Ten pretty lopsided rounds. From the outset, when Serrano's hand speed, agility, power and relentlessness were on display, Hardy was off balance. She got her footing in the middle of the bout, but never was a threat.
Serrano (37-1-1) won by scores of 98-91, 98-92 and 98-92 on the judges' cards. Hardy, her face reddened and bleeding by the second round, took her first loss in 23 fights. The AP had it 98-91 for Serrano.
Serrano's followers easily had the most to cheer about as she rocked Hardy in the opening round and never backed off for nine more rounds. "My corner told me to box and be smart," Serrano said. Mission accomplished.
Michael Hunter enhanced his status as a rising contender in the heavyweight division with a unanimous 12-round decision over Sergiy Kuzmin. Hunter decked Kuzmin with a sharp left hook in the fifth round and generally controlled matters even though his Russian opponent outweighed him by 37 pounds.
Hunter (18-1, 12 knockouts) could get a shot at one of the better-known heavyweights next time out, though a title shot isn't too close for the 31-year-old American. Kuzmin is 15-1. The bouts were streamed on DAZN.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-Sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports