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Devin Haney, Vasiliy Lomachenko embrace make-or-break matchup


Devin Haney and Vassily Lomachenko both have golden opportunities on May 20.

For Haney, the undisputed 135-pound champion, this is his best chance yet to prove that he is what he says he is – one of the world’s best handful of fighters. For Lomachenko, at the age of 35, it is an opportunity to recapture past glory.

They are scheduled to meet at the pay-per-view at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“I’m blessed to be here,” Haney said at Thursday’s kickoff news conference. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve wanted this fight since 2019. I’ve been begging for it and calling for it. Finally the time has come.”

Soft-spoken Lomachenko was not as impressive as Haney, but he knows what is at stake.

“I’m excited for May 20,” he said. “This is my second chance, and I will do my best. Thank you Team Honey for the opportunity. We are all ready for it.”

Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) is on a high note. The final four matches of the talented technician are as follows:

  • His breakthrough victory, a unanimous decision over former three-division beltholder Jorge Linares in May 2021.
  • Another clear decision over Joseph Diaz Jr., a former champ, in December of that year.
  • An impressive performance en route to a unanimous decision over Jorge Cambosos Jr. in Australia last June to become the undisputed lightweight champion.
  • and a repeat of that result four months later in a rematch with Cambosos, again in the loser’s country.

That run lifted him up several pound-for-pound lists, including Boxing Junkie (No. 15). And he’s only 24.

Haney said, “The better the opposition, the better I am.” “Loma is a good fighter. But I am on a completely different level. The world will see that on Fight Night. The world will see how good Devin Haney really is.”

The world has already seen how good Lomachenko is – or was, depending on where he stands at the moment.

Arguably the greatest amateur fighter of all time became a three-division champion in his first 12 pro fights, a remarkable feat even if you think the value of titles is diluted. As a result, he came to be recognized by many as the best fighter on the planet.

This changed when he lost his undisputed 135-pound championship to Teofimo López by decision in October 2020, although he entered that bout with a shoulder injury.

He has fought only three times since then, including one fight – a wide decision over Jamen Ortiz last October – since Russia invaded his native Ukraine last February.

“You can’t think about your future when war is coming to your home,” he said. “You just think about life and your family and the people around you. You think about how you can live another day. You can’t think about your work. You can’t think about a professional sport. Can’t think.”

The Ukrainian government has encouraged its athletes to compete in order to boost the morale of its people.

The Ortiz fight marked his return. And now he will compete in his first truly major event since the setback against Lopez, who lost his titles to Cambosos. A win would allow him to climb back up the pound-for-pound list—he’s now No. 11 on Boxing Junkie—and forfeit all the belts he’d held if he raised his hand.

Lomachenko (17-2, 11 knockouts) has always been a very confident fighter, but he didn’t make any bold predictions for a fight with Haney.

“We never know what will happen,” he said. “We can work out a strategy, but that can all change in the ring. Right now, I don’t know. I just train hard and prepare. I believe in God and my team.”

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