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Devin Haney wins close decision over Vasiliy Lomachenko to retain lightweight championship

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 20: Vasiliy Lomachenko (L) and Devin Haney (R) exchange punches during their Undisputed lightweight championship fight at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on May 20, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney did enough to win the early rounds of his bout against Vasiliy Lomachenko, winning a close unanimous decision before a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand.

Haney, who resides in Las Vegas, improves to 30-0, 15 knockouts and retains the undisputed and Ring Magazine lightweight championship.

The Haney-Lomachenko was a highly-anticipated clash between the younger, faster, and taller Haney against the more-experienced and accomplished Lomachenko. Fans in the arena Saturday night were treated to a great spectacle as both fighters gave their all throughout most of the fight. 

Both fighters looked stiff and nervous during the opening moments of the first round, but began lending their hands go with more fluidity. 

Haney dictated the pace and won the first two rounds, taking the initiative to outbox Lomachenko by throwing a consistent jab and following up with right hands or occasional left hooks to the head. Haney also focused his attack, throwing right hands to the body of Lomachenko. 

Lomachenko finally began finding a rhythm in the third round, throwing three and four-punch combinations as both fought in tight quarters. 

After Haney did enough to win round four, Lomachenko found a home for lead left hands that caught Haney flush to the head. Lomachenko would also vary his offense, keeping a high guard while throwing jabs of his own and throwing to the body of Haney.

The pace of the fight slowed during the middle rounds. As Haney’s punch output dropped, he continued to throw and land right crosses to the mid-section of Lomachenko. 

With less than a minute left in round eight, Lomachenko landed another lead left hand that momentarily stunned Haney, who immediately held on to gather himself and shake off the impact of the punch. 

Lomachenko seemed to gain steam as the fight progressed into the ninth and 10th rounds. His accurate punches and ability to mostly back up Haney during those stanzas won his those rounds.

In round 11, Lomachenko hurt Haney twice during those rounds, both times connecting with right hooks to the head and body. Lomachenko did his best work as Haney was backed into a corner and attempted to either hold or fight back.

To his credit, Haney bravely fought back in the 12th round. He stood his ground and was able to find success by again attacking the body of Lomachenko and holding his ground.

The Haney win took place a day after a contentious weigh-in where, during the traditional face-off, Haney pushed Lomachenko across the stage. Both were separated and taken away at opposite ends of the stage. 

Haney has many options on the table. He is now a promotional free agent as tonight was the last of a three-fight deal with Top Rank. His first two fights were against George Kambosos, Jr., both of which took place in Australia. 

In the first fight on June 5, Haney defeated Kambosos to become undisputed champion. He would face Kambosos in the rematch on October 16, again winning a one-sided decision. 

Lomachenko, who is originally from Ukraine and now resides in Camarillo, falls to 17-3, 11 KOs. He last fought on October 29, overcoming a slow start to defeat Jamaine Ortiz by unanimous decision. 

The 35-year-old was penciled to face Kambosos on June 5, but had to step away as he was called to service in the Ukraine army in its conflict with Russia. He is managed by Egis Klimas. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]