By the time Devin Haney wandered into the post-fight press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 24-year-old undisputed lightweight champion had the judges award him a unanimous decision victory. I was aware that it was widely perceived that the Vasily Lomachenko on Saturday night.
Haney, who holds lightweight belts from all four major sanctions, punched heavier throughout the 12 rounds of the championship fight, but punching stats show the 35-year-old Ukrainian Lomachenko has more. It is said that he threw a punch and landed.
While many fans discussing the match on social media were unhappy with Haney’s win, undefeated favorite Shakur Stevenson, who was eyeing a showdown with Saturday night’s winner, called the result a “robbery.” called.
Stevenson may have exaggerated the lawsuit. Two judges scored the bout 115-113 to Haney, and the third judge Haney won 116-112, both relatively close. But the result and the backlash against it highlight the contradictions built into high-level boxing.
Fans have been yearning for a high-profile matchup between elite fighters, and the lightweight division recently made it happen. Garbonta Davis and Ryan Garcia’s match in April sold out T-Mobile Arena and generated 1.2 million pay-per-view purchases. Saturday’s bout between undisputed lightweight champion Haney and former three-division world champion Lomachenko was even bigger with four world title belts at stake.
But close matches often result in controversial decisions. In a fight where neither fighter had a clear edge, one of the judges, Dave Moretti, won eight rounds in Haney’s favor.
As the debate raged online, Haney told reporters he felt the victory was decisive for him.
“People can say what they want,” said Haney, who is currently 30-0 with 15 KOs. “The judge made a unanimous decision.”
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Haney expected Lomachenko to retire. He excelled in terms of height and reach, which he said improved punching power would help make Lomachenko look average.
According to CompuBox, Lomachenko landed 124 of 564 punches, compared to Haney’s 110 of 405. In amateur boxing, judges value power over punching power, and if Lomachenko won two Olympic titles, he would likely have been ruled if he simply outperformed his opponent.
Much of Saturday’s game was played at close range, giving Lomachenko the advantage with his short arms and scoring multiple goals to Haney’s forehead with the lead left hand.
“It’s a big, big question for me,” Lomachenko, who is currently 17-3, 11 knockouts, said at a press conference. “what happened?”
Professional matches are scored round by round, so cumulative punch stats can be misleading. Lomachenko outperformed Haney in five rounds, and Haney outperformed Lomachenko in the other five rounds. In the remaining two frames, the fighter landed the same number of punches.
Many of Haney’s connects were violent body blows that slowed Lomachenko’s progress. He occasionally landed a sharp left hook to limit Lomachenko’s lateral movement. Haney admitted to fighting within Lomachenko’s favor, but he said he did so on purpose.
“I knew I had to let him take it and you guys had to fight a fight that I had never seen him fight before,” Haney said. “Not all battles go well.”
Still, for those who want to judge a match carefully, Round 10 stands out.
Statistically, Lomachenko had the advantage. Haney’s five punches were met with 11 hits. He also appeared to be an aggressor, appearing to stun Haney with one of his punches. However, Moretti gave Haney the tenth.
Lomachenko’s scorecard was one of several reasons Lomachenko’s coach Eguis Krimas said he plans to make a formal protest on Monday.
“We guarantee that the decision will be reversed,” Mr. Klimath told reporters.
The other two scorecards were one round in favor of Haney, but were more reflective of the closeness and brisk pace of the match.
During the break between the seventh and eighth rounds, Lomachenko’s cornermen urged him to throw more jabs. He got up aggressive in the eighth round and threw in a sharp body shot from Haney. When Lomachenko finally landed the jab, the packed crowd yelled “Roma!” Before Bell, Haney made some concessions.
In the final round, Haney resumed his two-fist body attack. Lomachenko landed his left straight and Haney returned with two hooks. Just before the final bell, Haney landed a long left jab.
Lomachenko finished the match impressed by Haney’s skill.
Up to a point.
Lomachenko said of past opponents Jorge Linares and Teofimo Lopez, “If you’re talking about Linares, if you’re talking about Lopez, they’re better than Haney for me.”
Lomachenko’s future in the ring remains uncertain. He proved himself still an elite fighter in the talented lightweight division, but admitted that this fight was likely his last chance to become the undisputed champion.
Haney had hoped Saturday’s game would put an end to his doubts about his championship eligibility, but the result appears to have only encouraged potential opponents.
Former 130-pound champion Stevenson said, “Devin’s not at my level. I’ll show you that.”
Haney, who has competed at 135 pounds since puberty, discussed a trial move to the 140-pound super-lightweight division. However, he has no intention of giving up the lightweight title. Instead, he teased a big fight against Stevenson and Davis, nicknamed Tank.
“Me and Tank are a big fight,” he said. “Sooner or later it will happen.”