By: Sean Crose
Make no mistake about it – this Saturday’s undisputed lightweight title match between Devin Haney and Vasyl Lomachenko represents the moment of truth for each fighter. For Lomachenko, the result of this weekend’s bout will dictate the course the remainder of his career will take. Should he lose, Lomachenko, the man once considered the best pound for pound boxer on earth, will be seen as a man whose time has truly come and gone. Should Haney lose, he will viewed as man who was sent back to earth by an aging great, a fighter not quite as good as he was made out to be.
The 17-2 Lomachenko is now 35 years of age. He has rightly been considered the greatest fighter to ever compete in the amateurs. In the early portion of his professional career, Lomachenko was even considered on his way to being the greatest pro boxer in history, as well. That may have been part of the HBO hype machine, as HBO aired Lomachenko’s fights at the time. Still, the man was insanely impressive in the ring, turning his opponents at will and making several of those opponents in a row quit on their stools. Then came Teofimo Lopez.
Unlike many of Lomachenko’s previous ring foes, Lopez was neither impressed nor intimidated by the lauded Ukrainian. And indeed, he fought accordingly, using his height to keep from being turned, and refusing to let Lomachenko win the essential twelfth and final round. After the judge’s cards had been read, Lomachenko had been knocked off his pedestal, his WBA and WBO title belts now in Lopez’ possession. Lomachenko has won three in a row since that time but he hasn’t yet been presented a chance to regain his former glory.
Unlike Lomachenko, the 29-0 Haney is, at 24, still a young man. In fact, he’s roughly 11 years younger than Lomachenko – a lifetime in the fight game. Like Lomachenko, Haney has defeated a line of talented opponents. Jorge Linares, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Joseph Diaz have all fallen victim to the Las Vegas based fighter’s extraordinarily fluid skill set. Haney may not have extraordinary knockout power – but frankly, he doesn’t need it. For Haney has mastered the number one rule of boxing: to hit and not get hit. Should he defeat Lomachenko when they meet in Vegas this weekend, Haney will have erased any lingering question as to whether he’s as good as advertised.
Unfortunately the Haney-Lomachenko fight will be broadcast on Pay Per View. Such a fight, interesting and relevant as it is, simply doesn’t warrant a raid on viewers wallets. The buy rate will most likely be quite low. This bout will more than likely be a chess match as opposed to a brawl. Haney-Lomachenko is, in fact, a fight for those who appreciate the craft. We who do appreciate it have reason to look forward to it.
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