World champion Haskins has it his way with wide points win

World champion Haskins has it his way with wide points win

Bristol’s Lee ‘Playboy’ Haskins (33-3, 14KO) retained his IBF world bantamweight title with a comprehensive points victory over Mexico’s Ivan Morales (29-2, 17KO).

It was scored a Unanimous Decision by the three judges at ringside with cards of 119-108, 118-110 and 118-110 to give Haskins a successful first defence.

Displaying his typically elusive tactics, Haskins was effective in evading Morales for the full duration in an uneventful 12 round rout at the Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff Bay.

The 32-year-old is an expert in nullifying the strengths of opponents and Morales’ advantages in reach and height were rarely useful for the visitor, who was one paced and ran out of ideas early on.

Despite standing several inches lower, Haskins was able to counter Morales by holding his feet and waiting for Morales to press, before ducking low and returning with short hooks and uppercuts. It was cute work that purists are likely to enjoy more than casual observers but it was enough to please those who matter – the judges.

In between those exchanges, Haskins would either tie up Morales’ longer limbs or walk him backwards to slow the challenger’s momentum. There were occasional reminders, like the Morales right cross at the end of the eighth round, but it wasn’t enough to steal the session.

In an effort to turn the tide, Morales’ out-put seriously increased from the ninth round onwards, though Haskin’s crisper connections and continuous pivots were still making more of an impression. By now Haskins was circling and he stayed a step ahead until the final bell.

It was the headline attraction of a new venture between Cyclone Promotions, the outfit faced by International Boxing Hall of Fame entrant Barry McGuigan, Sanigar Events, who are Bristol based but have a large stable of South Wales boxers.

Terrestrial platform Channel 5 was broadcasting the show, which was the first in their partnership with Cyclone Promotions, and sister outfit Spike TV showed the undercard. They have two more dates in 2016, it’s very likely it will include a return to Wales and will certainly continue in to 2017.

The crowd appeared sparse during the fight as Andrew Selby’s fans had left following his British flyweight title win over Louis Norman. It didn’t’ help that many fans of Craig Kennedy, who was to follow Haskins in the night’s final fight, were yet to leave the arena’s bars.

Haskins was making the first defence of a belt he won outside of the ring in November. After becoming interim belt-holder with a sixth round knockout of Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa in June, he had been due to face returning world champion Randy Caballero. However, when the Californian weighed in five pounds heavy, Haskins withdrew and was awarded the full version of the championship but missed out on a Las Vegas occasion.

Morales travelled to Wales with hopes of becoming the third world champion from his family. Siblings Erik, a modern boxing legend, and Diego have also scaled boxing’s highest peaks and the only other triplets to do it are the Kameda brothers from Japan.

Darlington’s Stuart Hall, who Haskins beat for the European title in 2013, is now the mandatory challenger for the IBF title he held until dethroned by Paul Butler in 2014.

Image by Sanigar Events.