Pound-for-pound: Devin Haney, Vasiliy Lomachenko settled nothing
Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko made our job difficult.
Haney defeated Lomachenko by a close, but unanimous decision to retain his undisputed 135-pound championship and perfect record Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113 weren’t received well in some circles, with many experts and fans crying robbery.
I scored it 114-114, a draw. I thought Haney landed the cleaner, harder blows – many to the body – in the first half of the fight. Lomachenko rallied to control the latter rounds.
However, we must acknowledge that others were convinced incompetence or corruption on the part of the judges cost Lomachenko a victory he earned.
So how does this impact the Boxing Junkie’s pound-for-pound rankings?
Lomachenko and Haney sat at Nos. 11 and 15, respectively, going into the fight. Should Haney be elevated simply because he had his hand raised? Or do we base our decisions on what our eyes told us?
Here’s what we decided to do after considerable thought: leave things as they were entering the fight.
Lomachenko, the former pound-for-pound king, demonstrated that he remains one of the best in the business by fighting a top young champion on even terms or doing enough to win, according to public opinion.
Thus, we couldn’t justify dropping him in the rankings. That would’ve only added to what many believe was an injustice.
Meanwhile, Haney deserves credit for proving that he can compete on the same level as an opponent ranked higher than he is. Anyone who believes Lomachenko deserved to win a wide decision is as out of line as they believe the official judges were.
At the same time, we couldn’t elevate Haney after a disputed victory. After all, Nos. 12-14 Artur Beterbiev, Shakur Stevenson and Roman Gonzalez sit above him.
His performance against Lomachenko doesn’t merit leapfrogging any of the above.
In the end, if Lomachenko and Haney are going to prove they belong higher on Boxing Junkie’s list, they’ll have to do it against other opponents in coming fights.
Next pound-for-pounder up: Honorable Mention Josh Taylor is scheduled to defend his WBO 140-pound title against Teofimo Lopez on June 10 in New York.
Here’s what the list looks like at the moment:
Terence Crawford – Reportedly is near a deal to face No. 4 Errol Spence Jr. for the undisputed 147-pound championship but no announcement has been made.
Naoya Inoue – Scheduled to challenge 122-pound titleholder and Honorable Mention Stephen Fulton Jr. on July 25 in Tokyo.
Oleksandr Usyk – Reportedly in talks to defend his three heavyweight titles against Daniel Dubois but nothing concrete has emerged from the negotiations.
Errol Spence Jr. – Reportedly is near a deal to face No. 1 Terence Crawford for the undisputed 147-pound championship but no announcement has been made.
Dmitry Bivol – Expected to defend his 175-title against Canelo Alvarez in a rematch in September but no agreement has been reached..
Tyson Fury – Reportedly considering a title defense against former beltholder Andy Ruiz Jr. or Zhilei Zhang in July.
Juan Francisco Estrada – No fight scheduled.
Canelo Alvarez– Expected to challenge 175-titleholder Dmitry Bivol in a rematch in September but no agreement has been reached
Jermell Charlo – No fight scheduled.
Gervonta Davis – No fight scheduled.
Vasiliy Lomachenko – No fight scheduled.
Artur Beterbiev – Reportedly near a deal to defend his 175-pound titles against Callum Smith in August in Canada but the deal hasn’t been finalized.
Shakur Stevenson – No fight scheduled.
Roman Gonzalez – No fight scheduled.
Devin Haney – No fight scheduled.
Honorable mention (alphabetical order): David Benavidez (no fight scheduled); Jermall Charlo (no fight scheduled); Stephen Fulton Jr. (scheduled to defend his 122-pound title against No. 2 Naoya Inoue on July 25 in Tokyo); Kazuto Ioka (scheduled to challenge 115-pound titleholder Joshua Franco on June 24 in Tokyo); Josh Taylor (scheduled to defend his WBO 140-pound title against Teofimo Lopez on June 10 in New York).
Weekend Review: What statement did Devin Haney make in tight victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko?
Photos: Devin Haney's narrow victory over resurgent Vasiliy Lomachenko
Devin Haney survives vintage performance by Vasiliy Lomachenko to eke out victory