Vasily Lomachenko still has it. He didn’t have enough.
Devin Haney survived a vintage performance from his 35-year-old rival on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to win a close, but unanimous decision and retain his undisputed 135-pound championship.
The official scores were 116–112, 115–113 and 115–113. Boxing Junkie made it 114-114, a draw.
Haney later said, “I have to take off my hat to Lomachenko.” “He’s a future Hall of Famer, he was by far my toughest opponent.”
There is no doubt about it.
Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) has dominated one opponent after another with his distinctive skill set and an unusually large frame for the division, but he’s never tangled with someone like Lomachenko, who at least Low was close to his best, so many people wrote him off.
The 24-year-old champion won his best rounds in the first half of the bout, though it was almost entirely contested.
Haney landed clean punches, especially on his favorite target in the fight: Lomachenko’s body. The southpaw challenger was competitive in the early going but took more flashy shots than he let on.
Lomachenko rallied in the second half. He landed his straight left at will from around the eighth round, sometimes doubling it. And his footwork seemed to confuse Haney, who didn’t land as consistently as before.
Lomachenko’s best rounds were rounds 10 and 11, when he seemed to be getting stronger and Haney seemed to be fading. The Ukrainian had all the speed.
However, Honey did not give up. He came back strongly in the 12th and final round, knocking Lomachenko to the punch and downing him in one of his best verses since the opening round of the bout. As it turned out, he won that round on all three cards, which proved to be decisive.
When the final bell rang, it was anyone’s guess who would emerge victorious.
Had Haney built up too big of a lead early in the fight? Or was Lomachenko’s dominance enough to turn the tide in his favor down the stretch?
When the announcement came, Haney smiled broadly. And for good reason. He dodged an Eastern European bullet, retained his championship and claimed the most important victory of his young career. Lomachenko looked both dazed and disappointed, a clear indication that he was expected to raise his hand.
Afterwards, Haney praises his fallen rival more.
“He’s a clever fighter,” he said. “He turned it into the championship round. I just have to take my hat off to him. He’s a great fighter.
Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) was asked twice whether he thought he deserved the win, but only implied that the judges might have got it wrong.
“I don’t want to talk about it. Everyone saw what happened today,” he said. He was then asked to assess Haney’s ability. “Look, before I think he’ll be better. Right now, he’s a tough fighter, a good fighter. He is not a pound-for-pound fighter.
A victory for Haney could set up a massive showdown with Gervonta Davis or Shakur Stevenson, who said after the fight that he felt Lomachenko deserved the nod. That’s when Haney decides to stay at the 135 pounds he’s fought his entire career at.
He indicated that he would go up to 140 but not before considering all options.
“Oh man, losing weight has always been hard for me,” he said. “At the age of 135, I have achieved everything I wanted. I beat a future Hall of Famer. This was my eighth title defense. But there are still great fighters in the 135-pound division.
“So we’ll see. If it makes sense, we’ll be at 135.”
Lomachenko was clearly pleased with himself, even though he already ended up on the wrong side of a controversial decision.
When he lost his 135-pound title to Teofimo López, had shoulder surgery and left the sport for a year to fight his countryman Russia, many believed the former pound- The best days of the four-pound king were behind him.
He showed on Saturday that the old boxing wizards are still with us.
“Look, I think I showed that I can be in boxing,” he said. “I’m in good shape now. I’ll see you next time.”
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