By the time Devin Haney strolled into the post-fight information convention on the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 24-year-old undisputed light-weight champion was conscious of the widespread notion that the judges had erred in awarding him a unanimous determination win over Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday night time.
Haney, who holds light-weight belts from all 4 main sanctioning our bodies, related with heavier punches over the championship bout’s 12 rounds, however the punch statistics stated Lomachenko, a 35-year-old from Ukraine, threw and landed extra.
While many followers discussing the bout on social media griped about Haney’s win, the undefeated contender Shakur Stevenson, who had been angling for a showdown with Saturday night time’s winner, known as the end result a “theft.”
Stevenson might have overstated the case — two judges scored the bout 115-113 for Haney, whereas a 3rd had Haney successful it 116-112, all comparatively shut. But the end result, and the backlash to it, spotlight a paradox constructed into high-level boxing.
Fans clamor for marquee matchups between elite fighters, and lately the light-weight division has delivered. An April matchup between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia bought out T-Mobile Arena and generated 1.2 million pay-per-view buys. Saturday’s bout between Haney, the undisputed light-weight champion, and Lomachenko, a former world champion in three divisions, had even larger stakes, with 4 world title belts on the road.
But intently contested bouts usually spawn debatable selections. In a bout the place neither fighter had a transparent edge, one choose, Dave Moretti, scored eight rounds in Haney’s favor.
Amid all of the arguing on-line, Haney instructed reporters that to him, the win felt definitive.
“People can say what they need to say,” stated Haney, now 30-0 with 15 knockouts. “The judges had a unanimous determination.”
In the lead-up to Saturday’s bout, Haney predicted he would pound Lomachenko into retirement. He possessed edges in peak and attain, and stated his improved punching energy would assist him make Lomachenko look common.
According to CompuBox, Lomachenko landed 124 of 564 punches, in contrast with 110 of 405 for Haney. In newbie boxing, the place judges favor output over punching energy, and the place Lomachenko gained two Olympic titles, merely outlanding his opponent would probably have earned him the choice.
Much of Saturday’s bout befell at shut vary, which favored the shorter-armed Lomachenko, who scored repeatedly with lead left fingers to Haney’s brow.
“For me it is a huge, huge query,” Lomachenko, now 17-3 with 11 knockouts, instructed reporters at a information convention. “What occurred?”
Pro bouts are scored spherical by spherical, so cumulative punch stats could be deceptive. Lomachenko outlanded Haney in 5 rounds, and Haney outlanded Lomachenko in 5 others. In the remaining two frames, the fighters landed the identical variety of punches.
Many of Haney’s connections had been heavy physique blows that blunted Lomachenko’s advances. Occasionally he landed sharp left hooks to restrict Lomachenko’s lateral motion. Haney acknowledged that he fought at Lomachenko’s most popular vary, however stated he had performed it deliberately.
“I knew I needed to take it to him, and battle a battle you guys have not seen me battle earlier than,” Haney stated. “Not each battle goes to be fairly.”
Still, for individuals seeking to second-guess the battle’s judges, Round 10 stands out.
Statistically, Lomachenko held a bonus — 11 landed punches to Haney’s 5. He additionally appeared the aggressor, and appeared to stun Haney with one in every of his punches. But Moretti awarded the tenth to Haney.
His scorecard was one in every of a number of causes Lomachenko’s supervisor, Egis Klimas, stated he deliberate to file a proper protest on Monday.
“I assure we’ll kill that call,” Klimas instructed reporters.
The different two scorecards, which favored Haney by one spherical, had been extra reflective of the battle’s tight margins and brisk tempo.
During the break between Rounds 7 and 8, Lomachenko’s cornermen urged him to throw extra jabs. He opened Round 8 aggressively, and walked into a pointy physique shot from Haney. When Lomachenko lastly landed his personal jab, the capability crowd chanted “Loma.” Before the bell, Haney had given some floor.
In the ultimate spherical, Haney resumed his two-fisted physique assault. When Lomachenko landed a straight left, Haney answered with two hooks. Just earlier than the ultimate bell, Haney landed an extended left jab.
Lomachenko left the bout impressed with Haney’s abilities.
To a degree.
“If you are speaking about Linares, when you’re speaking about Lopez — for me, they’re higher than Haney,” Lomachenko stated, referring to Jorge Linares and Teofimo Lopez, two of his previous opponents.
Lomachenko’s in-ring future stays hazy. He proved he’s nonetheless an elite performer in a talent-laden light-weight division, however has acknowledged that this bout was probably his closing probability to develop into an undisputed champion.
For his half, Haney had hoped Saturday’s bout would erase doubts about his championship credentials, however the end result solely seems to have emboldened potential opponents.
“Devin’s not on my stage, and I’m going to point out it,” stated Stevenson, the previous 130-pound champion.
Haney, who has competed at 135 kilos since his adolescence, mentioned a probationary transfer to the 140-pound tremendous light-weight class. He doesn’t plan to vacate his light-weight titles, although. Instead, he teased mega fights in opposition to Stevenson and Davis, who’s nicknamed Tank.
“Me and Tank is a large battle,” he stated. “It’s going to occur, before later.”