Bristol boxer Lee ‘Playboy,’ Haskins (32-3, 14KOs) makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight world title this weekend against Iván Morales (29-1, 17KOs) at the Ice Arena in Cardiff.
Morales is the younger brother of former four division world champion and Mexican great Erik “El Terrible,” Morales.
Haskins won the title on the scales when the former champion Randy Caballero failed to make weight in their proposed clash in November 2015. Haskins will be keen to prove his mettle on Saturday night in a fight which has the potential to be something of a thriller.
Haskins’ opponent is part of a modern day boxing dynasty headed up by the aforementioned elder brother Erik Morales. It is difficult not to draw similarities between the siblings.
The 24 year old Iván has a similar style to his older brother. He is a tall upright boxer, with a southpaw stance, a good jab and he likes to mix it up to the head and body. He is perhaps not as concussive a puncher as his older brother and despite a high defensive guard he can be caught square and hit easily. There are also question marks over his ability to cope with pressure.
The sole loss on his record was against journeyman Edgar Ramirez in August 2015. It was a fight in which Morales was under the cosh and despite rallying in the second half of the fight he lost a ten round majority decision. It was considered something of an upset at the time but Morales has since bounced back with a stoppage victory proving that one loss does not necessarily make someone a bad fighter.
The matchup presents an interesting clash of styles. The 32 year old Haskins trained by Chris Sanigar is also a southpaw who likes to throw shots from various angles. He has a relaxed, hands down almost Roy Jones Jr-esque style which can sometimes leave him open defensively.
Haskins most recent loss came against the Belgian Stephane Jamoye for the European bantamweight title in December 2012. In that fight Jamoye piled the pressure on Haskins for round after round until he eventually forced a stoppage when a series of body shots halted the Englishman in the eighth round.
If Morales was able to match the intensity and volume of punches thrown by Jamoye that night then the crowd could be witnessing an upset. However Jamoye is a more experienced operator than Morales having mixed in the company of world champions; Scott Quigg, Jamie McDonnell, Tomoki Kameda, Pungluang Sor Singyu, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Leo Santa Cruz. Therefore there is no shame in Haskins having lost to an elite level operator.
The outcome of this fight may just be decided on experience. Haskins must be considered the more accomplished boxer, he is a former British and European bantamweight champion and a British and Commonwealth champion in the super-flyweight and flyweight divisions. He also holds wins over current WBA champion Jamie McDonnell and former IBF champion Stuart Hall.
In contrast, the most recognisable name on Morales record is that of two time world title challenger Luis Maldonado who is currently on a six fight losing streak.
It’s difficult not to favour the champion in this fight, but with the Morales name and reputation on the line the Mexican will be sure to bring his all and it should provide an entertaining spectacle for the fans.
The main event is flanked by some quality fights on the undercard. Former Olympian Andrew Selby (4-0, 3KOs) takes on the more experienced Louis Norman for the vacant British Flyweight title and Cardiff’s own Craig Kennedy (14-0, 8KOs) steps up against Joel Tambwe Djeko (9-1-1, 4 KOs) for the vacant IBF international cruiserweight title.
This event is a co-promotion between Sanigar Events and Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone promotions and it also features Irish middleweight prospect Conrad Cummings (8-0-1, 3KOs) who takes on former Welsh champion Frankie Borg (9-5, 3 KOs). Borg was previously stopped in six rounds by Chris Eubank Jr in November 2013 and will be an interesting test for Cummings.
The undercard will also feature the 2014 Commonwealth Gold medallist Josh “The Tartan Tornado,” Taylor (4-0, 4 KOs) in a contest at super-lightweight.
The full undercard for Haskins v Morales will be televised on Spike, Sky Channel 160 from 7pm on Saturday the 14th May, with coverage of the main event switching to Channel 5 from 10pm.