By: Dan Rafael
ESPN Senior Writer
Blue chip lightweight prospect Devin Haney will kick off the new year against fellow undefeated fighter Xolisani Ndongeni in the main event of the first Showtime card of 2019.
The scheduled 10-round bout will headline a “ShoBox: The New Generation” triple-header on Jan. 11 (10 p.m. ET/PT) at StageWorks of Louisiana in Shreveport, the network announced Wednesday.
The 20-year-old Haney (20-0, 13 KOs), whose company, Devin Haney Promotions, is putting on the card, defeated world title challenger Juan Carlos Burgos in his most recent fight in September on “ShoBox” and this time will take on Ndongeni (25-0, 13 KOs), 28, of South Africa.
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“I’m looking to start off 2019 with another great performance on Showtime,” Haney said. “I’ll be facing a very dangerous undefeated fighter in Xolisani Ndongeni. He’s not just coming to fight. Ndongeni thinks he can win. These are the fights I need. I’m going to show the world once again that I’m not a prospect, I’m an elite fighter, and I deserve a world title shot.”
Ndongeni will be fighting in the United States for the second time and looking forward to testing himself against a heralded prospect.
“Devin Haney is a great young boxer, and I think it will be a good test for the both of us,” Ndongeni said. “I have the edge in experience. I have been in 12-round title fights, and I feel I am more than capable of handling anything he brings to the ring. A win against Haney will take me back to the top of the rankings and open doors for me to be able to fight many more times in the U.S.”
In the co-feature, two-time National Golden Gloves champion Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs), 21, of Salinas, California, will face former Puerto Rican amateur champion Carlos Vidal (14-0, 13 KOs), 29, who fights out of Las Vegas, in an eight-round featherweight bout.
“My team and I are really grateful and excited to finally be able to showcase my talents on a national platform and we will not take this opportunity for granted,” Villa said. “I’ve been working overtime to look perfect for this event. I’m coming to put on a show and prove I’m ready for the bright lights.”
Said Vidal: “I live in the gym and have dedicated my life to this dream of being a world champion. This is just the first step of that process, and nothing is going stop me from achieving that goal.”
The opener will feature Las Vegas-based Cuban defector Frank Sanchez Faure (10-0, 8 KOs), 26, taking on an opponent to be determined in a heavyweight fight. He is managed by Hall of Famer Richard Steele, the retired referee.
“Growing up in Cuba, I’ve always dreamed of having this opportunity to fight on television in America, and now that dream is becoming a reality,” Faure said. “I’m going to punish my opponent and give the fans a reason to watch me every time I step in the ring. I’m the next Cuban sensation.”