He’s been around so long that it’s easy to forget that Devin Haney is still a young fighter. He is 24, an age when many boxers are being pampered, developed and spoon-fed.
Haney still has that baby face, but he is the undisputed lightweight champion with the goal of becoming the pound-for-pound number one. It is a position that was held for many years by Vassily Lomachenko, who was a child prodigy when he turned pro in 2012.
Haney was desperate to fight Lomachenko in 2019 after winning the interim version of the WBC lightweight title Lomachenko held at the time. Lomachenko had his eyes on the big prize and shunned Honey like a fly.
Honey hasn’t forgotten. And while he insists the fight is not personal, he has repeatedly punched Lomachenko over the years. He will finally have a chance to prove himself against Lomachenko on Saturday at the MGM Grand when they square off in the main event of the Top Rank pay-per-view card in Las Vegas.
“He was No. 1 pound-for-pound and I’ll get there eventually,” said Haney, who is ranked seventh on Yahoo’s ranking of the world’s best fighters. “I came into this business to be the best and to do that, you have to fight the best. I’ve been trying to fight them for a long time and now it’s my chance.”
Haney is -270 on BetMGM to beat Lomachenko and with Lomachenko going undefeated, he’s going back to +230. Those numbers are adequate, perhaps fed up, but Lomachenko hasn’t looked great in his last outing against Jamen Ortiz and the clear size advantage has gone to Haney.
Haney entered the ring after Lomachenko’s unanimous decision victory over Ortiz at New York’s Madison Square Garden on October 29, and Lomachenko looked dwarfed. Haney is a big lightweight who is on the verge of becoming a super lightweight, while Lomachenko is a lightweight who could become a super featherweight if need be.
However, Honey doesn’t want to hear it. Size, he said, is not an issue in this fight.
“I really don’t see it getting much bigger than that,” Haney told Yahoo Sports. “He won [Masayoshi] Nakatani, who is older than me. Ortiz and I are the same size. someone else was [bigger than me that he beat] But I can’t remember the name, but this whole, ‘Oh, Hanny is so much bigger than Lomachenko,’ I don’t think that’s a factor.
“Size shouldn’t matter. The best fighter will win and that will be me.”
He hasn’t been as destructive as his talents suggest, though improving to 29-0 with 15 knockouts is tough.
Haney dismisses the idea that Lomachenko is on the decline. For some in Lomachenko’s 35-year-old team, age is a sore point. He has been spectacular since day one of his professional career and has undergone several major surgeries to remain an elite boxer in the sport.
But during an interview with Yahoo Sports, Lomachenko’s manager, Egis Klimas, grumbled when he mentioned his age.
“We’re going with this stuff about her age,” Klimas said with a lead. It is not old.
This may have been inspired by the fight with Ortiz, in which Ortiz put up a more vigorous challenge than expected. However, Haney doesn’t expect to see that version of Lomachenko.
“I agree it was not her best performance,” Haney said of Lomachenko’s victory over Ortiz. “But we’ll have to see what it was, if it was ring rust or something. War quit [for Ukraine against Russia] And he came to fight, so how could he be affected [fought],
“we will see [Saturday] If it was a fight with the ring, if it was just that he lost a step. I don’t know I know he is a great boxer and he has done a lot in this sport. But I think I’m better and I want to show it.”
A win would, in many ways, certify Haney as one of the elite. Teofimo López defeated Lomachenko to become the undisputed champion, but López suffered significant health and personal problems when he had a mandatory fight with Cambosos. He lost a fight that most expected him to win easily, giving Haney the opportunity to fight Kambosos for all the belts.
Haney won that and defended it in a rematch, but Lomachenko’s stature in this sport may only help define Haney as a champion.
“There’s a lot of talk about, ‘I want to fight this guy,’ or ‘I’ll fight that guy when I fight him,’ but it’s just words,” Haney said. “Until you go in and fight, you don’t know. You know, I’ve been saying this for a long time. I love all these guys because I think I’m the best and I know What do I want?” Do it to prove it. Loma fought this fight and now I have the chance to show what I have been saying and feeling for a long time.