The Long-Awaited Showdown: Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko
The upcoming clash between Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko has been brewing with anticipation and simmering tension. Haney, never one to shy away from provocation, has repeatedly taunted Lomachenko, suggesting that their fight should have happened four years ago. As fight fans eagerly await the bout this Saturday, it is worth examining the circumstances that have led to this moment and the significance it holds for both fighters.
Cast your mind back to 2019, when the boxing landscape looked vastly different from what it is today. At that time, Lomachenko reigned at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings, having recently defeated Luke Campbell in an impressive display of skill. His double Olympic gold medals and unrivaled technical prowess made him a mythical figure in the sport. Social media platforms were filled with highlight reels of Lomachenko's breathtaking tactics, and discussions about his place among the all-time greats were rampant, despite his relatively short professional career.
Meanwhile, Devin Haney was steadily gaining the trust of the boxing public. Guided by his father Bill, the Haney duo took charge of their own careers, self-financing and using social media to promote themselves. Haney's defensive prowess and sharp counterpunching drew comparisons to Floyd Mayweather Jr., which garnered both admiration and skepticism. Critics dismissed Haney as a product of clever marketing, questioning whether he could live up to the hype. However, they overlooked the fact that Haney was a product of his own household, building his career from the ground up. Although he would later sign with major promoters like Matchroom and Top Rank, the initial "hype" came from Haney himself, as he wholeheartedly believed in his abilities.
It was after his victory over Zaur Abdullaev in September 2019 that Haney publicly called out Lomachenko. He challenged the highly-regarded fighter, stating, "It's No-machenko because he doesn't want to fight me... If I'm so easy, No-machenko should fight me and get me out of the way." This assertion was not refuted by Lomachenko's camp either. In fact, Lomachenko's manager, Egis Klimas, admitted that Bill Haney had approached him about a potential fight, but he advised against it, citing Haney's early stage in his career.
Fast forward four years, and the tables have turned in many ways. Haney now holds the undisputed lightweight champion title, giving him the upper hand in negotiations and holding the prizes that both fighters covet. However, Lomachenko still retains a certain aura, guarding the door to unanimous praise. While Haney ranks first among lightweights in RING Magazine's rankings, he is absent from their pound-for-pound rankings, where Lomachenko sits eighth. This disparity has clearly irked Haney, leading him to express his frustration and even "boycott" and relinquish the RING belt in 2022.
Haney's taunts about Lomachenko missing an opportunity to fight him four years ago demonstrate a unique level of self-awareness combined with braggadocio. He does not openly admit that he would have struggled against Lomachenko in 2019, as he firmly believed then and now that he would come out victorious. His determination was evident in a conversation with Jonathan Snowden, where he recounted telling his father at the age of 13, "I'm not losing no more." This belief in his own abilities is implicit in his taunts, acknowledging that the 2019 version of Haney would have presented a different challenge to Lom