Greats from different generations collide as Devin Haney puts his undisputed lightweight title on the line against Vasiliy Lomachenko at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
5 AM Sunday SA time
Devin Haney (1.38) v Vasiliy Lomachenko (3.00) (Undisputed Lightweight Championship)
Hot on the heels of Gervonta Davis’ knockout win over Ryan Garcia, boxing fans are blessed with a second super fight in 2023.
In Haney, you have an undefeated young star and the undisputed king of the lightweights. Confident and ambitious, he seeks out the biggest challenges possible like flying to Australia last June to beat local hero George Kambosos Jr to become the outright king and making a return flight to cement his status with an equally emphatic decision victory in the rematch.
Now, “The Dream” has lined up a legend and heads into the generational battle with a perfect record of 29-0 with 15 knockouts. Holder of the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, WBO, and The Ring lightweight belts, the youngest undisputed champion in history seeks to add an iconic scalp to his ever-growing résumé.
Lomachenko’s pro record of 17-2 with 11 knockouts is impressive but doesn’t do his greatness justice. To fully appreciate his genius-level fight IQ, masterful movement, fluid striking and tenure in the sport one has to look at the bigger picture, that being his combined overall amateur and pro record of 414-3.
One of the best to ever enter the squared circle, the Ukrainian southpaw is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, a former three-division champion and topped the pound-for-pound list in his prime.
His reign was ended by Teofimo Lopez back in 2021 but despite being in the twilight of his career, he bounced back from that defeat with consecutive wins over Masayoshi Nakatani, Richard Commey and most recently, Jamaine Ortiz last October.
The line is largely due to the age gap between the two. Haney’s 24 years young whereas Loma, as he’s better known, is past his prime at 35. The champion also has a big size advantage – three inches in height and four-and-a-half in reach.
As the bigger man, Haney will look to dictate the fight from the outside, using his elite jab as a spear and a means to rob Loma of rhythm. Younger and faster, his superior footwork will be a big advantage in what’s set to be a super technical fight.
Loma, in turn, will have to close the distance. To do so will prove challenging as he’s lost a step, but once inside, he’ll be in a position to fire off some trademark combinations.
He’s always been a slow starter, a bad habit he was still able to overcome in his last fight, but Haney’s levels above Ortiz. As such, Loma will have to start faster than usual, and, he’ll have to take risks throughout the fight.
As a forward-pressure fighter, he’s made a living out of forcing opponents to throw, evading their shots and making them pay. Haney, though, has the fight IQ, speed and reflexes to sidestep traps and chip away at the decorated veteran.
Loma has never been stopped and while he no longer has a spring in his step, his iron jaw and warrior spirit remain. That’ll see the fight go the distance and the torch being passed to Haney by decision.