Lee Haskins won the IBF World 118-pound title in Las Vegas last November without throwing a punch. The bout was cancelled when the incumbent, Randy Caballero, came in five pounds overweight. By rule, the title reverted to Haskins. On Saturday, May 14, the Bristolian bantamweight crossed the channel to Wales and solidified his hold on the title, outpointing Tijuana’s Ivan Morales at the Cardiff Ice Arena. It was Haskins first world title fight and simultaneously his first world title defense. Confusing, huh?
Haskins, now 33-3 (14 KOs), was facing a fighter with a strong boxing pedigree. Ivan Morales (now 29-2) is the brother of future Hall of Famer Erik “El Terrible” Morales. Another brother, Diego Morales, is a former WBO World super flyweight champion. Morales, a lanky southpaw, also had youth in his favor. At age 24, he was eight years younger than Haskins.
Nonetheless, Haskins was the clear winner, prevailing on scores of 119-108 and 118-110 twice. Morales was determined, but he was out-gunned. Up next for Haskins is a mandatory defense against 36-year-old countryman Stuart Hall, a ho-hum fight (they fought once before, Haskins winning a unanimous decision). Down the road, a unification fight with countryman Jamie McDonnell would get the juices flowing. McDonnell holds the WBA version of the bantamweight title.
On the undercard, flyweight Andrew Selby became the fastest Welsh fighter to win a Lonsdale belt, achieving the distinction in only his fifth professional fight. A 2012 Olympian (he lost to the eventual gold medalist, Cuba’s Robeisy Carranza) and the brother of reigning IBF World bantamweight champion Lee Selby, Andrew Selby outclassed Louis Norman over 12 rounds, winning by scores of 119-110 and 120-109 twice.
In other undercard bouts of note, local cruiserweight Craig Kennedy (14-0, 8 KOs) kept his undefeated record intact with a 10-round split decision over Belgium’s Jeol Tambwe Djeko and super lightweight Josh Taylor, a Scotsman, moved to 4-0 (4) with a first round knockout of Miguel Gonzalez, a Honduran. Big things are expected of Taylor, a gold medalist at the 2004 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The show at the new ice arena was promoted by Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions. The main event was aired live on Channel 5 in the U.K.