Haskins makes Morales title defence, Selby features on Cardiff undercard
Lee Gormley | May 13, 2016
Lee Haskins v Ivan Morales
- IBF bantamweight title fight
- Saturday, May 14th
- Scheduled for: 22:00 BST
- Ice Arena, Cardiff, Wales
- Live on Channel 5
Haskins makes Morales defence
Bristol’s Lee Haskins makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight title this Saturday night at the Ice Arena in Cardiff, as he comes up against Mexican challenger Ivan Morales, the younger brother of the legendary four-weight world champion Erik Morales.
The 32-year-old reigning IBF title holder secured the strap back in November, when supposed opponent and then champion Randy Caballero couldn’t make wait for their scheduled bout on the undercard of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s clash with Miguel Cotto.
Since a loss to Stephane Jamoye in 2012, Haskins (32-3, 14 KOs) has been on a roll, winning six straight fights, including a sixth-round stoppage of Ryosuke Iwasa for the interim belt last June, and he next faces a fighter who is making his UK debut.
Morales (28-1, 16 KOs) will fight outside his homeland of Mexico and America for the first time this weekend and enters as the more youthful of the two fighters, though the 24-year-old is odds-on 1/6 with Coral to lose out on Welsh soil.
‘Playboy’ ready for Mexican challenge
The defending world champion, who represents Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions, holds plenty of experience needed to overcome this latest obstacle and the former two-time European and British bantamweight titlist is confident of getting the job done.
“I’ve seen all I need to see [from Morales]. I’ll still be champion after Saturday night. Ivan is taller and bigger than me, but that just means there is more of him to hit,” declared ‘Playboy’ Haskins.
Shorter and more powerfully built than his South American foe, Haskins is hoping to put on a strong statement this weekend after outlining his desire to become the biggest name to have represented his home city.
“I want to be thought of as the most successful professional sportsman Bristol has ever seen,” he added.
“That’s not me being arrogant – I’m fiercely proud of this city and I’ve always wanted to help put Bristol on the map for sport.
“Now I’ve reached the top and I’m a world champion, I feel so proud of my roots and I want to try and enhance Bristol’s sporting reputation.”
Morales aims to grasp opportunity
Visiting Mexican Morales has a tough task ahead of him in his first fight in the UK, with the fighter known as ‘Nino Maravilla’ getting his first crack at a world title just nine months after a shock defeat at the hands of journeyman Edgar Jimenez in Cancun.
But he ready to take his opportunity now, stating: “This is a big, big chance for me, the biggest of my life, and I am thankful for the opportunity.
“Haskins is a good champion, very strong and experienced, but I am here to win. I have waited for this and now it is my time.”
Morales was born when his legendary brother ‘El Terrible’ was just 15 years of age and only some 18 months away from his professional debut, but the younger sibling is 4/1 to overcome Haskins and is confident of doing so, despite that unexpected loss last year.
“Mexico will have a new world champion on Saturday night. My family already has a champion and now it will have another.
“The people will see that I am ready to be world champion. I am happy to be here and to have this chance. I have seen Lee Haskins on the internet and I think this will be a great fight.”
In this battle between southpaws, Haskins will look to show exactly why he deserves to hold the IBF title, while Morales is aiming to become the third brother in his family to reign as world champion in what could be a Cardiff cracker.
Welsh talents Selby and Kennedy star on undercard
There is plenty of Welsh talent on the undercard this Saturday night too, as Andrew Selby, brother of IBF featherweight champion Lee, takes on Derby’s Louis Norman (8/1) for the vacant British flyweight title and is 1/20 to triumph.
Undefeated cruiserweight Craig Kennedy takes on Belgium’s Joel Tambwe Djeko for the IBF international strap, and ‘the Kid’ is 1/12 to prevail, while his Brussels-born foe ‘Big Joe’ is 6/1 to emerge with victory.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s Conrad Cummings is a huge 1/100 favourite to dispatch Frankie Borg (16/1) as he looks to continue his bounce back from a draw with Alfredo Meli in Belfast last year.
The unbeaten 24-year-old recovered with a points win on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s IBF and WBA title fight against Scott Quigg in Manchester at the end of February, and will seek further success this time out.