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Gordon: Debate the decision, but Haney did not rob Lomachenko

Updated May 22, 2023 - 11:45 am

Did Devin Haney do enough to beat Vasiliy Lomachenko on Saturday night to retain his undisputed lightweight championship at the MGM Grand Garden?

Definitely debatable.

Was Lomachenko “robbed,” as manager Egis Klimas implied afterward?

Absolutely not.

To suggest that Lomachenko was robbed implies that his victory was obvious — and that he dominated a fight that featured far too many back-and-forths for any obvious conclusion to emerge.

The judges scoring ringside ruled a 116-112, 115-113, 115-113 victory for Haney (30-0 15 knockouts), a 24-year-old Las Vegan from the Bay Area, who indeed was wrongfully awarded the 10th round on the 116-112 scorecard submitted by veteran judge Dave Moretti.

Had Moretti rightfully scored the 10th round for Lomachenko, though, the result wouldn’t have differed.

Had Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) not admittedly relaxed in the 12th round, maybe it would have.

“I understand going into the 12th round, I understand maybe I need to (use) a little bit (of) defense. ‘I can give him this round. I don’t need to win this round,’” Lomachenko, a 35-year-old Ukrainian, said during the post-fight press conference.

All three judges scored the 12th round for Haney.

“I don’t know,” Lomachenko said. “Maybe I don’t understand boxing.”

Too close to call

Punch stats aren’t everything, and they can’t always quantify exactly what happens in the boxing ring. But what CompuBox concluded Saturday night reflects exactly how close the fight actually was.

Both fighters brought their very best during 12 rounds of the sweetest science. Haney used an educated jab and refined body attack that halted Lomachenko as he attempted to work his way inside … until Lomachenko properly configured the rightful range, utilizing feints, fast hands and footwork to unload heavy combinations in the final rounds.

Haney landed more punches than Lomachenko in five of the rounds, while Lomachenko landed more than Haney in five others.

In the other two, they landed an equal amount.

Lomachenko had a 124-110 edge in connections, but Haney was more accurate, landing 27.2 percent of his total punches compared to 22 percent for Lomachenko — and 41.5 percent of his power punches compared to Lomachenko’s 30.3 percent.

Haney landed 50 body shots compared to nine for Lomachenko.

“The body work is what won me the fight tonight. I knew I had to invest in the body,” Haney said in the post-fight press conference. “I stuck to the game plan, I was breaking him down. I feel like he was fighting in spurts.”

That Lomachenko was, though he won the 10th and 11th rounds far more impressively than any round Haney was awarded.

But those two were the only rounds he won by a wide margin, and the momentum they created cannot be retroactively assigned to earlier rounds that were hotly contested and far harder to score.

Forgotten during the finish was the way the fight started — with Haney utilizing his length and hand speed to keep Lomachenko at bay.

A score of 115-113 for either fighter would have sufficed, as would have a 114-114 draw.

Good luck finding eight or nine rounds for either fighter, and with them the robbery that Klimas is alleging.

‘Say what they want’

“How much more do you guys want me to prove?” Haney asked, rhetorically.

Seemingly plenty, based on the sellout crowd that bitterly booed the decision.

Fights with Gervonta Davis and Shakur Stevenson would surely sell — as would a rematch with Lomachenko, who proved elite despite the disputable decision that Haney didn’t hesitate to gleefuly accept.

“At the end of the day, the people can say what they want to say, and the judges had a unanimous decision,” Haney said. “Each judge was on the same page when it came to the decision.”

Debate everything but this: It wasn’t a robbery.

Contact Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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