Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Jan 11, 2019

What: Devin Haney vs. Xolisani Ndongeni, Lightweights

When: Jan. 11
How to Watch: Showtime 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Devin Haney gets beaten on his own promotions’ card by an unknown South African.

Former Blac Chyna boyfriend, Devin Haney is a legitimate future world champion prospect, so much so that at only 20 years old, he already has his own promotional company. “Devin Haney Promotions” will be promoting the show, which will air as part of Showtime’s “ShoBox: The Next Generation” series. While many boxers have their own promotional companies, they usually don’t have them at such a young age, and certainly not with such unproven professional careers.

Which could make it especially embarrassing if he loses to Xolisani Ndongeni. While Haney is undoubtedly the favorite in the fight, he did not choose an opponent he could easily walk through. Ndongeni is 25-0, 28 years old, and hails from South Africa. While his opponents have been mainly unknown Africans, and he has rarely left his home nation to fight, he did once travel to the USA to beat Juan Garcia Mendez. That’s nowhere near coming to America and beating a guy like Haney, but it does show he has travelled to the USA and beaten a North American before.

Ndongeni saw Haney train when he was at Mayweather’s gym, and wasn’t impressed enough to duck the fight, saying that while talented Devin is a “baby.” He’s been so determined in his training that he didn’t bury his grandpa, and he acknowledges that not many people know a ton about him, which might be his biggest advantage.

Devin Haney should beat Xolisani Ndongeni, but Ndongeni won’t make it easy for him. And if Devin Haney gets dropped onto a canvas covered in his own name, that wouldn’t just be a loss, it would be an embarrassment.

What: Jose Uzcategui vs. Caleb Plant, Super Middleweights

When: Jan. 13
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Caleb Plant is a future American boxing star or another overhyped Southern product.

Caleb Plant could be a star. A slick, white boxer from Ashland City, Tennessee who developed his own app for fans to follow his career and has a sad backstory about losing a 19 month-old daughter, Plant has huge star potential in a 168-pound division that could quickly be filled with some of the most famous names in the sport. Plant has beaten good, but not great fighters so far in his career, so he has not yet developed the following he could. A main event, world title shot on Fox Sports 1 could change that, but Jose Uzcategui will be by far his biggest challenge.

Uzcategui, the IBF Super Middleweight champion, is 28-2 with 23 knockouts and has never been stopped as a professional. The 28 year-old Venezuelan is looking to unify the 168-pound belts in the future and is facing a Caleb Plant that has not fought in almost a year. Uzcategui has not gotten the press Plant has, but he’s the bigger, better fighter.

A white Southerner with slick hands in a stacked division could be huge in America. But in boxing’s modern era, overhyped white Southerners from Butterbean to Tommy Morrison have consistently faltered when faced with the real elite. We’ll see if history repeats itself or if Plant can buck the trend.

What: Brandon Figueroa vs. Moises “Chucky” Flores, Junior Featherweights

When: Jan. 13
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Brandon Figueroa can break bodies like he can break hearts.

Omar’s little brother, Brandon Figueroa has been called “heartbreaker” since he was a child because of his beautiful blue eyes and boyish good looks. Now, he is 17-0 with 12 knockouts, and prides himself on both his stamina and his ability to hurt opponents to the body. That sounds good, except his last opponent was only five foot one, and he was the best fighter Figueroa has fought to date.

Moises Flores is 25-1 with 17 knockouts but is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Daniel Roman. He does not have a nickname about how attractive he is, which could be motivating in itself, but what he does have is years in the fight game, world title experience, and the motivation of being a 32-year-old fighter who knows he doesn’t have much time left to accomplish his dreams.

Figueroa is young and pretty, but it takes a gritty veteran like Chucky Flores for us to see if he’s young, pretty, and very good.

What: Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Giovanni Delgado, Junior Featherweights

When: Jan. 13
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Guillermo Rigondeaux tries to make fans care about him, like they didn’t before.

Nobody cared about Guillermo Rigondeaux when he was an undefeated, pound for pound top five fighter in the world. His story never resonated with the public (which is odd because his failed escape from Cuba and subsequent becoming a national symbol of shame was really fascinating), people called him boring, and even boxing writers like ESPN’s Dan Rafael and Steve Kim called him things like Guillermo “Nyquil” Rigondeaux and tweeted “zzzzz” in response to his proposed matches. Then he got beaten, embarrassed, and branded an overhyped coward for quitting against Vasyl Lomachenko.

If Rigondeaux had few fans while he was a dominant fighter, he had zero after he quit against Lomachenko. That fight, in December 2017, was his last before a long layoff which ends this weekend. On his worst day, Guillermo Rigondeaux would not lose to Giovanni Delgado. Delgado is 16-8 and has lost seven of his last 10 fights. No matter what, he can’t beat Rigondeaux. But Guillermo Rigondeaux isn’t just fighting Giovanni Delgado, he is fighting an inescapable apathy. The Cuban fighter once known for being dominant but boring, is now a once-great fighter that quit when he was getting beaten by a better, more charismatic star. Guillermo Rigondeaux needs to become more interesting in the ring for people to care about him, and Delgado is an easy opponent to look good against.

Rigondeaux’s match isn’t against Delgado, it’s against a simple question. If I didn’t care about Guillermo Rigondeaux when he was a dominant, undefeated pound for pound champion, then why would I care about him now?
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