Glynn Evans searches out causes for patriotic optimism ahead of the Bristol bantam’s overdue IBF title tilt at Randy Caballero in Las Vegas this Saturday.
1. He Can Be Bloody Awkward!
It’s not coincidental that the 31 year old Bristolian is just about the most avoided British fighter of the past decade. A switch hitting southpaw who binned the coaching manuals years ago, herky-jerky Haskins has inflicted more headaches than Special Brew and this has more to do with his evasiveness than the punishment he can inflict.
He is as likely to humiliate as obliterate. His record shows clear wins over both Jamie McDonnell and Stuey Hall yet neither was in a hurry to attempt avenging Haskins when they landed world titles ahead of him.
Career long mentor Chris Sanigar always refused offers to send his man out to spar potential rivals, maintaining that Lil’ Lee’s unorthodoxy was his main weapon. Expect the unexpected!
2. Power Surge
Just 14 stoppage wins on Haskins 35 fight pro slate is deceptive. The 5ft 5in ‘Playboy’ punches with real poke now that he longer needs to boil away his strength to meet the fly and super-flyweight cut-offs.
His searing speed plus the element of surprise magnify the havoc he can wreak. They say it’s the ones you don’t see that cause most carnage and Haskins is a master of disguise.
His CV shows that he has routed championship level men in Luke Wilton, Martin Ward and Ross Burkinshaw, and dumped the likes of reigning European champion Ryan Farrag and Don Broadhurst, a Commonwealth champion in both codes.
The lightening left cross that took out Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa to land him the IBF interim title in June would have felled any 118lb fighter on the planet.
3. You Can’t Beg, Steal or Buy Experience
Outside of Britain’s world champions it’s difficult to locate a more seasoned domestic fighter than the West Country wisp.
Formerly a junior ABA champion (beating Liverpool’s Derry Mathews by disqualification in the final), Haskins has participated in 13 championship fights during his 12 ½ year 35 fight career, plus an additional three 10 rounders. He has successfully navigated the full 12 round trip on six occasions.....and triumphed every time.
Champion Caballero might well have been a highly decorated amateur – US national champion, World Cadets bronze medallist – but the Californian has prepared for just two 12 rounders, completing the course for the only time in his IBF title win over Stuey Hall.
4. Foregone Conclusion?!
The Bristol bantam enters as a 6-1 outsider with the odd setters but that won’t concern him one iota. He’s battered the bookies many times before and his ledger lists victories on foreign terrain in both Morocco and Spain.
Twenty-five year old Caballero, a golden child on the roster of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, is highly regarded and unbeaten in 22 (13 quick).
‘The Matador’ certainly looked classy schooling Darlington’s Hall but that was 13 months ago and surgery to remove a cyst on his leg has left him dormant since. The pressure will be huge for him to not only retain but to sizzle on this HBO PPV blockbuster and that might involve taking risks which Haskins can exploit.
5. Seize the Day!
While Haskins’ world title challenge is thoroughly merited, it is largely unexpected. The queue to risk pain and embarrassment by fighting him has always been short and even as a long serving champion, challengers were largely invisible. Big props to mentor Sanigar for manoeuvring him into the mandatory slot.
An overtly cautious counter-puncher in his youth, he isolated the TV companies years ago and back then would have struggled to sell a ticket for his fights to his wife. He has improved aesthetically as well as technically since.
Well into his 32nd year, the father of three knows this is a one-off opportunity to trouser life changing money. Motivation certainly shouldn’t be an issue. Expect him to leave every ounce in the Vegas ring come Saturday night.
6. Oh Ah, Sanigar!
The ‘Godfather of West Country Boxing’ has managed Haskins affairs since the vanguard of his professional career in March 2003.
Formerly a fearless ABA finalist, England rep and Southern Area light-welter champion, the devout Christian is one of the most experienced and passionate fight faces on the domestic scene. He has survived and occasionally thrived in the sport for over five decades, despite being habitually pleasant and honest!
Crucially, Chris knows how to win abroad at world level. In May 2000, his super-middleweight Glenn Catley lifted the WBC title with a spectacular last round kayo of Germany’s Markus Beyer in Frankfurt and last month, he oversaw Barry’s IBF featherweight king Lee Selby retain against Mexico’s Fernando Montiel in Arizona.
Having seen off stomach cancer, four years ago, Sanigar is hardly quaking at the threat posed by Senor Caballero.