Undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney has retained his titles at the MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas, but not without a controversial decision that former three-division champion Vasiliy Lomachenko’s camp plans on appealing.
Lomachenko dominated the latter rounds in the bout on Saturday evening and out-punched Haney, 124-110.
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But much to the dismay of the 14,436 fans in attendance, all three judges had Haney winning. Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland scored the fight 115-113, while Dave Moretti had it 116-112.
Lomachenko’s manager said they plan to appeal the decision.
“The biggest robbery in the daylight. Haney’s team got Christmas in the summer,” Egis Klimas said. “We’re going to appeal this decision. Those judges, they do not understand how the boxers are working hard. I guarantee we’re not going to let that go. We want to show there has to be justice.”
Haney improved to 30-0. Lomachenko, 35, dropped to 17-3.
Both fighters showed aggression throughout the first half of the fight, Haney using his length and strength by working off his back foot, while Lomachenko continued to pepper the champion with a jackhammer left hand to the head.
But as the fight wore on, it was the elder statesman punishing 24-year-old Haney, stunning him with combinations, including a powerful ninth round, when the champion started showing his fatigue.
All three judges scored a relatively close 12th round that could have gone either way in favour of Haney, 10-9. A decision the other way would have made the fight a draw on two judges’ scorecards.
“I think I showed that I can still be in boxing, I’m in good shape now,” Lomachenko said. “I won this fight. Twelve rounds end, I was sure I won this fight. I feel I controlled this fight.”
Haney was nothing short of complimentary of his challenger.
“Lomachenko is a future Hall of Famer,” Haney said. “It was a blessing. He was my toughest opponent. He was very crafty. He turns it up in the championship rounds. [This fight] put me in the history books forever.”
Lomachenko returned to the ring in October last year after after enrolling in a territorial defence unit for Ukraine after the invasion of the country by Russia.
Haney became the first undisputed lightweight world champion since Pernell Whitaker in 1990 with a lopsided decision over George Kambosos in Melbourne in June 2022.
Now Haney has a decision to make, as he will be a free agent when he wakes up Sunday morning, as his three-fight deal with Top Rank and Lou DiBella is now expired.
Haney certainly has plenty of options, as he could stay at 135 pounds (61kg) for one final fight, where a highly anticipated match awaits against fellow pound-for-pound contender Shakur Stevenson, who was in attendance Saturday.
Haney could also move to junior welterweight, where he would pursue a second-division title while positioning himself to meet the winner of the June 10 fight between Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez Jr.
The wild-card bout out there would be against Gervonta Davis, who looked impressive in his win over Ryan Garcia on April 22.
“Me and my team are going to go back to the house, watch the fight and reflect on it,” said Haney, who added it’s always been tough for him to make weight at 135.
“I’ve been at 135 for a long, long time. This is my 30th fight. I’ve been here at 135 since I was 16 years old. We’re going to go back to the lab and figure out what’s next.”