Russ Anber on Haney-Lomachenko controversy: Just because a fight is close doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear winner
It’s been five days since Devin Haney successfully defended his undisputed lightweight championship against former three-weight world titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko by highly controversial 12-round unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Since then, the debate on who should have had their hand raised has continued to rage. Everyone has had their say and most believe the two-time Olympic gold medalist did enough to wrestle the major titles from the young American’s grasp.
Lomachenko’s hand wrapper and cut man, Russ Anber, a boxing veteran of 43 years and founder of Rival Boxing Gear, was in no doubt as to who should have won and pulled no punches.
“100 percent, there was no doubt in my mind,” Anber told The Ring on Wednesday evening. “I was a little taken a back when I saw the judges’ cards. For some reason they seemed to think Haney was dominating the early parts of the fight, and to be honest, when I was scoring the fight in the corner and when I watched it again on replay, I had Loma up 3-0 and 4-2 after six rounds.
“I don’t understand how they had Haney up early and then in the middle rounds, like seven, eight, I thought Loma lost those rounds and the judges gave him those rounds. So, clearly what I was watching and what the judges were watching [was different] or how the judges were watching, which I think is the key.”
The Canadian, who had a ringside view Saturday, has since watched the fight back and can’t make a case for Haney. He also feels the 10-9 round system is deeply flawed.
“I don’t remember how I scored it on the night, I just thought we were winning,” he said. “I was 4-2 after six and then we won 10 and 11 convincing. I said, ‘That’s six rounds, for sure we’ve got another round in there somewhere.’ There was no doubt in my mind. I thought Loma fought to win and Haney fought to not lose.
“I [watched a replay of the fight and] had 7-5, 8-4. I’m not one that’s afraid to use even rounds and the thing that’s bothered me consistently with this hyperbole with people saying, ‘Those are swing rounds, they could go either way.’ That’s the biggest crock of s__t in boxing. The idea is to win the round and if you don’t win the round and it could go either way, that round is a draw. It’s not give it to who the f__k you feel like! That’s what pisses me off, more than anything, we hand out 10-9 for the fun of it. It was a close round so pick away, that’s not the way to score a fight.
“You get judges who end up where their point tally may be the same but the rounds, they awarded are completely different. We don’t want to score even rounds. Why not? Why aren’t we making it where winning a round has to be decisive. If you end up with four even rounds in a fights, that’s because it’s competitive. And the rounds you award to the fighter is because he legitimately won them.”
Anber believes the judges are ignorant of the mastery of Lomachenko and others such as three-weight world champion and recent Hall of Fame inductee Juan Manuel Marquez.
“I don’t know what they were looking at,” he said bluntly. “I’ve said this before, many years ago regarding Juan Manuel Marquez. I don’t think – I won’t say all – that judges are equipped to understand the subtilties of great fighters and Juan Manuel Marquez was the victim of some terrible close decisions that he should have won only because the judges don’t appreciate his fine-tuned ability in the ring. They don’t see it. They’re not skilled enough, they don’t have the gym experience, they don’t have the training experience, fighter experience, they have no idea what he’s doing in there and it’s hard to give points to that when they don’t understand what somebody is doing.”
The term ‘Robbery’ has been bandied around; Anber was keen to explore that reference.
“There’s two kinds of robberies, you have the absolute corrupt, one million percent job that’s pulled on you where a guy wins 10 of the 12 rounds and they don’t give it to him,” he said. “Everybody sees that’s a robbery and that’s happened in boxing but just because a fight is close doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear winner.
“In this case, while the fight was competitive, it was clear who was controlling the fight, who was controlling the action, who was making the fight happen, who was the affective aggressor, who was landing more punches, who was throwing more punching, all that into Loma’s side. It can be a robbery when you see a clear winner. It doesn’t mean the fight wasn’t competitive, but it doesn’t mean you can say ‘Oh well, it wasn’t a robbery because you can go the other way.’ No, you can’t because you can’t find seven rounds for Devin Haney to say he unequivocally won seven rounds. You can certainly find seven rounds for Loma.”
The Ukrainian was unconsolably in the changing room after the fight. There were photos of him crying, head in hands.
A clear outbreak of emotion having put his body through a strenuous training camp and tough fight only to feel what should rightfully be his taken away. At that point there’s not much that can be said or done.
“It was only afterward where I said, ‘This is the politics of boxing.'” said Anber before continuing. “And I explained to him, he’s too skilled for the people judging him, they don’t appreciate his talent, they don’t appreciate the subtitles he does, they don’t appreciate he can block a punch and inch from his face, they don’t appreciate that he can catch a shot on the elbow. Haney landed a few good body shots, I’m not taking that away, but you can’t turn around and pick the four, five, six, seven body shots that cleanly landed on Loma as the deciding factor that he was the fight. That doesn’t cut it for me.
“I told him nobody can take away the accomplishments you’ve done, you’re a three-division world champion, you fought almost all your professional fights – save three – for world titles. You’re a two-time Olympic gold medalist.”
At 35, what is left for Lomachenko? Where can he go next?
“I don’t know, obviously the rematch would be the best thing, the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF all have to get together and say, ‘It was a controversial decision, it was wrong.’ And order and immediate rematch. That would be in a perfect world,” said Anber. “Or if Haney decides he wants to go to 140, he can give up the belts and Loma can go for undisputed against somebody else. That’s the only thing Loma is interested.
“It just seems when you go back on his career and the controversies that have surrounded his loses, nobody’s even given this guy a chance to avenge any of it. Why doesn’t Loma get his chance? He never got his chance at [Orlando] Salido, who came in overweight and played speedball with Loma’s nutsack and then you had the Teofimo [Lopez] fight which for all intents and purpose should have been a rematch, but they refused and avoided a rematch. The scoring was atrocious there, not to say Lopez didn’t win the fight, I think that 12th round might have sealed the victory, best I think you could say is a draw for Lomachenko.
“And now you have this one. There’s nobody of note, all the boxing minds, the guys who understand the game, the fighters, even people who picked Haney to win thought Loma won.”
ALSO, ON RINGTV:
Fair or foul? Experts weigh in on Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko result – The Ring (ringtv.com)
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