Haney Remains Undisputed Lightweight Champion
Despite the excuses that are becoming all too common from Vasil after his losses, Devin Haney defeated him handily at MGM Grand Garden Arena 20 May 2023 to retain his status as the undisputed champion of the lightweights. Haney’s win improves his record to 30(15)-0, while Lomachenko now has three losses on his record.
But despite his lackluster professional record, Lomachenko was the darling of many sports outlets for years. He spent longer than the typical fighter might spend in the amateur ranks before turning pro, amassing an impressive record of 396-1. This is pretty important; many so-called boxing insiders used his amateur record to justify fast-tracking him to his first title in his second pro bout, which he lost.
But if you only watch boxing casually, or otherwise never paid much attention, you might somehow have gotten the impression that Lomachenko never lost a fight until fairly recently. It raises a few questions.
Who Has Beaten Vasyl Lomachenko?
Albert Selimov(RUS) – amateur southpaw, now retired. Although Lomachenko is now famous for dominating the amateur ranks, he was even defeated there before. Albert Selimov of Russia defeated him in a 2007 amateur world championship. Regardless of the loss, Lomachenko’s dazzling footwork, relentless pressure and veteran moves earned him exaggerated praise from Bob Arum, who sits comfortably atop the boxing promotional game.
Arum’s intervention into Lomachenko’s career eased a lot of pressure off him, and really paved the way for him to bypass many of the same hardships that just about every other superstar boxer you’ve heard have had to go through.
Orlando Salido(MEX) – In a grueling, rough & tumble contest for the WBO world featherweight championship, Lomachenko was overwhelmed by the relentless pressure and veteran tactics of the grizzled and determined Orlando Salido. It was an attempt by Lomachenko (and others, obviously) to break Saensak Muangsurin’s record; the first man to win the world title in his third pro fight.
In a scene that’s now all too familiar, Lomachenko’s loss was punctuated with excuses. Regardless, Salido handed him his first loss.
But somehow, even after publicly failing to prove himself the best professional fighter in the world in his second pro bout against Salido, Lomachenko got another immediate title shot. He wasn’t given a rematch; a completely separate title shot at a completely different title, against a different champion.
In comparison to other professional boxers, the path of Lomachenko is more than a little weird. Even after losing relatively early to him in his career, Vasyl has been publicly adamant that he doesn’t want to fight Salido again. Even so, Lomachenko remained a major promotional figure in the sport of boxing.
Teofimo Lopez(US) – Teofimo Lopez used power, size, and explosiveness to famously defeat Lomachenko, relieving him of his titles on 17 October 2020 at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Paradise, Nevada.
In another strange performance, Lomachenko took the first six rounds of the fight off, during which Lopez let out quite a bit of his built frustrations on the Ukrainian. By the second half of the fight, Lomachenko turned on the pressure, fighting like a man possessed by some fearsome warrior spirit. He landed thudding and obvious painful blows on the larger Teofimo, who shrugged off the onslaught and countered with virtuosic explosiveness and devastating power.
After the fight, Team Vasiliy had some more excuses about how he should’ve won the fight officially. But by this point, many began to notice certain predictable patterns from team Lomachenko in the face of loss.
Devin Haney(US) – Devin “The Dream” Haney, the most talented of the fighters that Lomachenko has faced thus far, was still forced to use everything in the book. When he got to the back cover, he had to write his own chapter; Lomachenko made adjustments and switched up his intensity of attack in the second half of the fight, forcing the still undisputed champ to adjust on the fly.
Lomachenko did his best to overwhelm the youngest undisputed champion in boxing with pressure and angles. He found some sporadic success, Haney’s sharp technical prowess and masterful defense kept him ahead on the scorecards. Since Team Haney was well aware of Lomachenko’s tendencies at this point in the career of the famous Ukrainian prizefighter, Bill, Haney’s father and trainer, outlined an effective gameplan: body work.
Many compare Haney to Floyd “Money” Mayweather, and in some respects the styles and work ethics of the two bare some similarities. One thing Floyd eventually became known for throughout his career were his outstanding adjustments and mid-fight adaptations. He has the uncanny ability to sense weaknesses and strengths in those across the ring from him, and to craft an attack to efectively exploit the openings.
Another is the sneaky body work that both men use on the inside. Against Lomachenko, Haney relentlessly landed lots of heavy shots downstairs. Taking a little bit of air out of his tires initially was all it took to slow Lomachenko down in the later rounds. Many expected to see an explosion of activity from Lomachenko that would’ve been too much for Haney late, but the effective body punching of Devin Haney was too much for Lomachenko to weather.
What’s Next For Vasyl Lomachenko?
The defeat by Haney appears to be the most painful for Vasyl; he has publicly declared that the Haney fight was his last chance at becoming an undisputed champion. How he would know this for sure is unclear; he’s already cut the line a few times before, so it’s conceivable that the door might open back up for him again.
Potential megafights for Lomachenko still exist; he just won’t be the A-side. Whether or not he’s willing to take the harder way remains to be seen.
Do you think Vasyl Lomachenko is worthy of being called one of the all-time top 10 fighters in the world, despite the three losses on his record?
Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.
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