Haney and Lomachenko Give Lightweight Boxing Another Close Bout

By the time Devin Haney strolled into the post-fight news conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the 24-year-old undisputed lightweight champion was aware of the widespread perception that judges had erred in awarding him a unanimous decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday night.

Haney, who holds lightweight belts from all four major sanctioning bodies, connected with heavier punches over the championship bout’s 12 rounds, but the punch statistics said Lomachenko, a 35-year-old from Ukraine, threw and landed more.

While many fans 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’s winner, called the outcome a “robbery.”

Stevenson may have overstated the case — two judges scored the bout 115-113 for Haney, while a third had Haney winning it 116-112, all relatively close. But the outcome, and the backlash to it, highlight a paradox built into high-level boxing.

Fans clamor for marquee matchups between elite fighters, and recently the lightweight division has delivered. An April matchup between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia sold out T-Mobile Arena and generated 1.2 million pay-per-view buys. Saturday’s bout between Haney, the undisputed lightweight champion, and Lomachenko, a former world champion in three divisions, had even higher stakes, with four world title belts on the line.

But closely contested bouts often spawn debatable decisions. In a bout where neither fighter had a clear edge, one judge, Dave Moretti, scored eight rounds in Haney’s favor.

Amid all the arguing online, Haney told reporters that to him, the win felt definitive.

“People can say what they want to say,” said Haney, now 30-0 with 15 knockouts. “The judges had a unanimous decision.”

In the lead-up to Saturday’s bout, Haney predicted he would pound Lomachenko into retirement. He possessed edges in height and reach, and said his improved punching power would help him make Lomachenko look average.

According to CompuBox, Lomachenko landed 124 of 564 punches, compared with 110 of 405 for Haney. In amateur boxing, where judges favor output over punching power, and where Lomachenko won two Olympic titles, simply outlanding his opponent would likely have earned him the decision.

Much of Saturday’s bout took place at close range, which favored the shorter-armed Lomachenko, who scored repeatedly with lead left hands to Haney’s forehead.

“For me it’s a big, big question,” Lomachenko, now 17-3 with 11 knockouts, told reporters at a news conference. “What happened?”

Pro bouts are scored round by round, so cumulative punch stats can be misleading. Lomachenko outlanded Haney in five rounds, and Haney outlanded Lomachenko in five others. In the remaining two frames, the fighters landed the same number of punches.

Many of Haney’s connects were heavy body blows that blunted Lomachenko’s advances. Occasionally he…

Read More: Haney and Lomachenko Give Lightweight Boxing Another Close Bout 2023-05-21 15:18:52

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