Fair or foul? Experts weigh in on Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko result
Last Saturday, undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney edged out Vasiliy Lomachenko to win a close — and in some peoples’ eyes controversial — 12-round unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Since then, the debate has raged, with most people believing the Ukrainian wizard had done enough to win.
However, the three people that mattered most, namely Tim Cheatham, Dave Moretti and David Sutherland, all voted in favor of the defending champion. Cheatham and Sutherland scored the contest 115-113, meaning Haney won 7 rounds to 5. Meanwhile Moretti, a very experienced official, favored Haney 116-112, for which he has caught the ire of fans and media alike.
While much of the early going was like a chess match, Haney’s jab and body work arguably got him into an early lead. By the middle rounds, Lomachenko had closed the distance and was the aggressor, and he seemed to be doing the better work and was out-landing Haney. Lomachenko again seemed to separate himself from Haney in Rounds 10 and 11, the two most dominant rounds from either combatant in the fight. Moretti — erroneously in the eyes of … well, everyone — scored Round 10 for Haney. The American had a better Round 12, but it was still close.
Before seeing how the judges had scored proceedings, the feeling among spectators was that it was close, maybe 115-113 either way, or a draw.
An admittedly pro-Lomachenko crowd voiced its displeasure at the result. The reaction was in line with how many watching at home saw the fight.
Haney, who was the pre-fight favorite, isn’t to blame; he didn’t score the fight, he just did what he does best — he fought his fight.
I spoke to fellow Ring scribes and boxing insiders for their take.
Here’s how the experts saw it:
DOUG FISCHER: LOMACHENKO
“I scored the bout for Lomachenko, 115-113. I thought it was a close, hard-to-score fight, but I believe Lomachenko’s surge over the second half of the bout (especially his push in Rounds 10 and 11) gave him the edge after 12 rounds. I had the bout even after Rounds 4 and 6, but I thought the older veteran pulled away starting with Round 7. Haney boxed well and showed as much grit in Round 12 as he exhibited patience and poise during the early rounds, but I expected a little more from the much bigger 24-year-old. This experience should serve him well going forward, but it should also serve as a reminder to Lomachenko’s many detractors why he is still in The Ring’s pound-for-pound rankings.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: LOMACHENKO
“Going in, I liked Haney; I thought youth would be served. He had advantages in age, size and had excellent momentum coming into this fight. He started the fight well and that size and world-class jab looked like a factor, but as Lomachenko downloaded the necessary information, it was the naturally smaller man who started to push Haney back. The Ukrainian started to put rounds together, and entering the championship rounds it was legitimately close. I believe Loma closed stronger than Haney and edged things, 115-113. I wouldn’t call it a robbery, but for my money Loma deserved the win.”
LEE GROVES: HANEY
“I scored the fight 115-113 for Haney, and this was a fight that demanded total focus on the four criteria of scoring (clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship — also known as strategic command — and defense) every second of every round. Anyone who calls this a robbery doesn’t know what a robbery really is; this was a close fight that could be interpreted multiple ways, hence the reason for this article. Many of the rounds were tough to score and it was almost like I was picking the rounds apart with tweezers. I think the controversy wouldn’t have been nearly as ferocious had all the cards read 115-113 across the board for either fighter, but because Dave Moretti’s 116-112 score in general, and his 10-9 score for Haney in round 10 in particular, combined with the administrative furors of last week (Tony Weeks’ stoppage of Romero-Barroso and several questionable scorecards on multiple fights), the anger was stoked further.”
MARTY MULCAHEY: LOMACHENKO
“I am disappointed that the scoring (maybe more in the Twitterverse than casual boxing fandom?) is overshadowing what was an excellent fight that lived up to its hype! I picked Haney to win in the Ring Magazine poll but thought Lomachenko pulled it out by a round and undoubtedly had the more dominant rounds. A draw or win by one or maybe two points on the scorecards for either boxer is an acceptable tally. I did not score the fight as it was happening, since there were distractions like Twitter, my beer and food, as well as talking with friends, which could cause me to miss scoring blows. ESPN’s excellent Bernardo Osuna summed up the fight best, commenting post-fight that he scores every round and has a habit of circling close rounds that could have gone to either boxer. Osuna had five or seven rounds circled!”
RON BORGES: LOMACHENKO
“I felt Loma won a close decision, 115-113. Under NO circumstances did EITHER guy win 116-112. Not sure what eye Moretti was using when he scored that fight. Loma started slow, as usual, but not as slow as he had in the recent past. He certainly took over the final third of the fight. He certainly won Round 10. This fight screams for a rematch. I did not agree with Shakur Stevenson’s take that this was a ‘robbery’; we have seen so many clear robberies that this was, at the worst, petty theft. But theft all the same. The next big thing did not beat the last big thing. If one wants to argue for a draw, that might actually have been the fairest decision, because both guys deserve a second go at each other, and the fans would love to see it. Of course, when was the last time promoters and TV networks cared about the fans? Far too long ago.”
COYOTE DURAN: LOMACHENKO
“Looking back, I certainly didn’t give Vasiliy Lomachenko enough credit to call a win for him. I said he’d make it tough for Devin Haney but I didn’t think he’d make it that tough. I predicted a 116-112 score for the undisputed lightweight champion – same as ringside judge Dave Moretti. That said, I scored the bout 115-113 (seven rounds to five) for Lomachenko. Was it a robbery like seemingly everyone and their mother behind a keyboard is insisting? Nope. I’m sure I’m preaching to the unbiased choir but 115-113 either way would’ve been acceptable. Even a draw, which only Jolene Mizzone predicted within “Fight Picks,” would’ve made sense. But 116-112 for Haney? No. No way, especially since Moretti gave Haney the 10th round.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): HANEY
“It was considered a close contest, but I believe we had the right verdict at the end of the fight. I believe when you challenge for a world title you have to rip the championship away from the champion. Lomachenko left his assault far too late. Sure, he had a couple of good rounds towards the end, but it wasn’t going to be enough. I had Haney winning 115-113. Not sure the result warrants a rematch. The future is very bright for Haney, with a proposed move to 140 pounds.”
SERGIO MORA (FORMER JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/COMMENTATOR): LOMACHENKO
“7-5 Loma. What a great performance by both. So many close rounds. But Loma, to me, told a better ‘story.’ Think Hagler vs. Leonard; Hagler may have won in the eyes of many, but Leonard told a better story! Rounds 8, 9, 10 were crucial, and judges saw them all differently. I loved how both fought and stuck to their game plan, but Loma, the smaller man, did hurt Haney. It was a great fight that had draw written all over it. But I loved seeing Loma be great in his mid 30s against the No. 1 lightweight in the world.”
TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): LOMACHENKO
“I had Vasiliy Lomachenko winning the fight 115-112 (7-4-1). For me, the first half of the fight was even after six rounds, but I only gave Haney one round in the second half (Round 12). Loma landed the cleaner blows and the champion looked visibly discouraged in the championship rounds. The 10-point must system is flawed in that a close round is scored the same as a dominant round. Three of the four rounds I awarded Haney were very close, but even if you give Haney the benefit of the doubt in close sessions, no one will ever convince me that he won seven rounds of that fight. That didn’t happen.”
JOE ROTONDA (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): LOMACHENKO
“It was a great fight, very entertaining; both guys fought hard. However, I do think that Lomachenko won the fight. When you look at what appeared to be the game plan for both guys, I just think Lomachenko executed his more effectively than Haney did. Devin’s gameplan was clearly to attack the body all night, which he did a good job of throughout the fight. However, it not did seem to slow Lomachenko down. On the other hand, Vasiliy’s gameplan seemed to be to apply pressure all night and stay aggressive on the inside, which I think he executed very well. Again, I do not think Lomachenko won by a large margin; there were a lot of close rounds, but I do believe he did enough to earn the win.”
BOBBY BENTON (TRAINER): LOMACHENKO
“I thought Loma won, but it was not a robbery. The fight was competitive and could have gone either way.”
STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): DRAW
“It was a very close fight. I believe about 6-6 in rounds seems right. No matter how you saw it, this was no robbery. The perception of some is that Loma clearly deserved the decision. That’s because he won some rounds more clearly and decisively than Haney won his rounds. But remember, you score each round as an individual fight.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): HANEY
“This fight was impossible to score, so I have more sympathy for the judges than I do the people doing their nut about the result. Rounds 1, 2, 7 and 8 were too difficult, with 4 and 9 close. The Loma rounds, 10 and 11, were big, but my feeling is there were too few of them, particularly given Haney did best in the first half of the fight. It’s also important to say that while Loma pressed, probed and made Haney work, there were times when he was controlling the action but not landing punches while Haney was. I had it 115-113 for Haney and felt he won more of the scoreable rounds, but with so many difficult phases, you couldn’t really complain about any outcome.”
RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): LOMACHENKO
“Saturday night was a close fight with close rounds. Yes, Haney threw body shots and worked the body, but it didn’t slow Lomachenko down at all. That’s why fighters go to the body. They invest trying to slow the other down and have the other drop their guard, but that doesn’t add up points like head shots do. It was a close fight. I didn’t have a scorecard, but I did have Lomachenko winning, 7 rounds to 5. Not a draw, and Haney certainly didn’t win. Lomachenko was cheated at being the undisputed champion of the world. If you ask 100 people, 95 will say Lomachenko won; the other five are in Haney’s corner.” (laughs)
BOB SANTOS (MANAGER/TRAINER): UNDECIDED
“I thought it was a tremendous fight. The fight really could’ve gone either way, and at that point it became very subjective. Did you like the body-punching from Haney a little bit more, or did you like the precise, almost sniper head-punching from Lomachenko? It could’ve been a draw. With a fight that close, there definitely has to be a rematch, in my opinion.”
RAY BELTRAN (FORMER LIGHTWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): LOMACHENKO
“It was a competitive fight, like a chess match, but I saw Lomachenko winning at least by two rounds. That judge needs to be fired; they are killing the sport. We don’t see real fights that often; we usually know or expect who is winning, and that’s not good for the sport. It’s getting way too political and corrupt. Haney vs. Lomachenko is the type of fight boxing fans want, and [they] deserve to watch real fights, but the judging and referee need to get it right.”
ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER): LOMACHENKO
“I knew going in it would be a close fight and thought it would be close for first eight rounds and that Loma would pull it off due to experience in the end for a unanimous decision. The fight was exactly that — very hard to score rounds and back-and-forth. I did keep score, and although my score doesn’t matter, I had it 115-113 for Loma. I believe he landed the better punches and of course was the more offensive fighter. I was very impressed with Devin’s IQ at the level he showed versus such an experienced fighter like Loma. I cannot say robbery at a 115-113 for Haney, but 116-112 is just not acceptable. It’s tough to accept a defeat like this where the majority see you win. Loma should be the undisputed champion today.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): HANEY
“I think people turned against Haney after he pushed Lomachenko at the weigh-in. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype. There were a lot of very close rounds in the fight, and I scored it 115–113 for Haney, but a round or two the other way makes it a draw or a win for Loma. Was it a robbery? In my opinion, no. Loma threw combos in spurts, whereas Haney used a long, accurate jab, lots of consistent body punches and threw much cleaner shots than Loma. Haney didn’t win Round 10, and the fact that one judge scored that round for him is terrible! That was definitely Loma’s best round. A score of 116-112 (or 8-4 in rounds) is shameful.”
JOHN SCULLY (FORMER FIGHTER/ TRAINER): LOMACHENKO
“I thought it was a pretty close fight and I thought Haney boxed well at times but obviously Loma landed the better punches and, at the end of the day, I put things in perspective: At the end of the fight, I think which one of the participants I’d rather have been. On that night, I would rather have been Vasiliy.”
Final Tally: Lomachenko 13-4-1 and one undecided
ALSO ON RINGTV:
Fight Picks: Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko – The Ring (ringtv.com)
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].