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Devin Haney prepared for Zaur Abdullaev in New York debut

His star is on the rise, but Devin Haney faces a legitimate challenge on Friday.

Johnny Garcia/Devin Haney Promotions

Rising lightweight standout Devin Haney (22-0, 14 KO) returns to action this Friday night on DAZN, when he faces Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KO) for the interim WBC 135-pound title, putting the winner in line for an eventual shot at Vasiliy Lomachenko down the line, and simply establishing that winner as a serious contender in the division.

Haney, 20, is expected to win, if we’re being honest. Abdullaev, 25, is a good fighter, but the Russian isn’t seen as quite the talent that Haney is, and you can guess that simply by knowing Haney is already tentatively booked for the Nov. 9 card in Los Angeles, headlined by the KSI-Logan Paul gimmick fight.

”I know Abdullaev is focused, he’s been at the top of the rankings for a while now, so I know he’s ready to fight,” Haney said from training camp. “He’s an undefeated fighter who has beaten some quality opposition, so I take him very seriously. I’m just very excited to face Abdullaev because it will show the world my skills and why I am the new face of the sport.”

While most fans are going to dismiss the interim title as something that doesn’t need to exist — Lomachenko just won the WBC full title and is active — it’s something Haney wants and is looking forward to gaining.

”The WBC interim world championship means a lot to me. Some people kept labeling me a prospect when I knew I was so much more,” he said. “Being able to fight for an interim world title means everything. This not only makes me the WBC mandatory for Vasiliy Lomachenko, but I’m able to do interim title defenses until Loma is ready to fight. I believe the winner of Haney vs Abdullaev is in a really good position with the WBC.”

He’s also looking forward to headlining at Madison Square Garden, or at least the Hulu Theater “small room” of the venue.

”This is something I’ve always dreamed about for sure. MSG is the most historic and iconic arena in all of sports,” he said. “I’m headlining a card full of great fights. Heather Hardy vs Amanda Serrano for the WBO featherweight title will be a very exciting fight. My good friend from Las Vegas, Michael Hunter vs Sergey Kuzmin will be a terrific fight as well. There are only two losses between all six of the fighters on the main card.

“This is my first time at the Hulu Theater, and I’m going to put on a hell of a show. Everyone should get their tickets now, because it’s going to be a great night of boxing and entertainment.”