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Clash of the Titans: Who wins Devin Haney vs. Vasyl Lomachenko superfight?
Plus, Rolly Romero’s title win and Zhanibek batters Butler
One of the biggest fights of the year so far lands in Las Vegas this weekend, as Devin Haney defends his IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC lightweight titles against Vasyl Lomachenko. It’s a classic youth vs. experience battle. Even though victory for Haney would not quite classify as a passing of the torch, scalping Loma will add significant credibility to the 24-year-old’s slate and scoop up the name of a modern day legend.
While Lomachenko’s career is winding down, Haney’s is just taking off. The fight poster depicts both men perfectly poised across a chess board, which is a fitting visual analogy of how the contest might play out. Entering the pro game in 2013 off the back of a remarkable 396-1 amateur career, Lomachenko has packed a lot into his 19 fights (17-2, 11 KOs).
Fighting for a world title in only his second contest, Loma found wily veteran Orlando Salido’s tactics too much to handle in the early part, although he had arguably worked the Mexican out by the end and just ran out of rounds. Loss number two came in the sterile surrounds of Top Rank’s bubble when Loma started too slowly against Teofimo Lopez.
Haney, meanwhile, turned pro so young he had to ply his trade in Mexico at the beginning. It took a while for his flame to catch, before first Showtime, then Eddie Hearn’s DAZN and, most recently, Bob Arum secured his signature. Battling hard for legitimacy after being handed a substandard version of the world titles, Haney needed a breakout win. Two trips to Australia in 2022 showcased his resolve and varied skillset.
The opponent across those 24 rounds, George Kambosos, was simply incapable of burrowing inside and making a significant dent in Haney, who used his tentacles to wrap up the Aussie and reset the action whenever his personal space was breached. Despite his advanced years, Lomachenko is no Kambosos. Across a vast amateur and professional stint, the Ukrainian has made a career out of solving problems, often mid-fight.
One fighter who has sampled the skills of both Haney and Lomachenko is three-weight world champion Jorge Linares. In his prime, the magnificent Venezuelan boasted an offensive arsenal on par with the world’s finest. Unfortunately, he also held glaring deficiencies, particularly paper tissue skin that often tore up under pressure. In 2018, Loma and Linares engaged in a high-speed chess match that saw Jorge land a solid right hand in round six that floored Loma. With the fight hanging in the balance, Loma landed a sweet body shot in round 10 that swiftly ended the affair.
Linares later became a common opponent for this pair when he boxed Haney in 2021. For two-thirds of the contest, Haney used his powerful left stick to dictate range and keep Linares at bay. That was until round 10 when Linares put together one of his trademark combinations to stun Haney badly. To his credit, ‘The Dream’ managed to see the fight through and win on points. The final two rounds, however, were far from comfortable and Devin was forced to grapple and grab at times in order to see things through.
The fight on May 20 is a fascinating contest that will be offered on ESPN pay-per-view. Lomachenko has the physical attributes required to get inside and trouble Haney. However, the Las Vegas resident, headlining in his home state, has the jab, range and youth to keep the Ukrainian at bay and win a close decision.
WEEKS’ CALL GIFTS ROLLY 140 CROWN
Love him or hate him, Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero always brings a degree of entertainment or controversy. Last weekend in the Chelsea Ballroom it was more the latter, although much of the final fluster was not Rolly’s fault. Having weathered the early storm at the fists of Ismael Barroso, the Las Vegas resident earned a breakthrough of sorts in round nine when he floored Barroso with a cuffing push to the canvas. Step forward referee Tony Weeks who erroneously called it a knockdown and issued a count on the Venezuelan veteran.
Buoyed by an upturn in fortunes (Rolly was down on all three cards and obviously knew it) the brash banger piled on the pressure and backed Barroso up. However, the coriaceous skinned South American was cognisant and throwing back shots, avoiding much of the onslaught, before Weeks dived in to “save” him. Romero doesn’t usually throw body shots but Barroso had already been knocked out in the past by that very method.
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Gervonta Davis had ceremoniously knocked out Rolly with a left hand when they met last year around this same time. Barroso also carried plenty of pop in his own powerful left hand. The opening sessions were fairly tentative with both men wary of each other’s power.
That was until Romero went down in round three. Pulling straight back against the ropes, head up in the air, he got caught flush and sent to the canvas. Mostly neglecting any form of a jab, Barroso lunged in with the left hand, overcommitting at times. For the most part, Romero struggled to time the lunges and take advantage.
That was until the flagging Barroso stepped into round nine and Weeks inserted himself into the narrative to controversially stop the contest. No doubt a bit of a favourite over at Showtime, mostly due to his trash talking abilities than his boxing skills, Romero now holds another dubious title. His previous ‘Interim’ strap was at 135 and he now possesses a piece of the action at 140. It is unclear how a man coming off a loss, whose best win is over Anthony Yigit, can move up in weight and walk straight into world title action.
But this is boxing and the WBA, so anything is possible. A fight with Ryan Garcia is being talked about. Garcia is itching for a move away from DAZN and a separation from the Oscar De La Hoya circus. There might be a home over on the PBC for him if he wants to pursue that option.
ANGELETTI FLIES AND NEXT GEN VILORIA WINS
Shout out to a couple of prospects who scored tasty stoppage wins on the Showtime undercard. Michael Angeletti could be one to keep an eye on. A quality amateur who lost in the Olympic trials, Angeletti improved to 8-0 with a final round stoppage of Michell Banquez. This was a nice step-up for Angeletti, as Banquez is a former IBO champion who once defeated Prince Patel.
The tough Venezuelan was hurt in round five by a body shot and did well to get through the round. Banquez came out aggressively in the final session, trying to turn things around with one punch, but was dropped with a left hand and visibly hurt. Angeletti piled on the pressure and forced the stoppage to plant an exclamation mark on the perfect display.
Michael Angeletti - Photo Credit: PBC
Taking part in only his second pro contest, Justin Viloria stopped unorthodox Colombian Pedro Pinillo in round four. Brian Viloria’s nephew showed nice balance from the southpaw jab, accompanied by a lead right hook and neat body punching. The head was a little static but plenty of time to learn for the youngster, who will have big boots to fill given the exploits of his uncle known as ‘Hawaiian Punch’.
Over in Stockton on ESPN, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly iced Steven Butler in two rounds. Eager to impress, following a tepid display against the awkwardly talented Denzel Bentley, Alimkhanuly’s joy came from a left uppercut. Butler’s legs were all over the place as he staggered around the ring, trying desperately to hold on. Referee Jack Reiss probably gave him too many chances as Alimkhanuly kept the pressure on the Canadian and proceeded to batter him until everyone finally agreed he’d taken enough.
Middleweight is bereft of depth and quality at the moment, leaving a gap for someone to step forward and dominate. Alimkhanuly looks as good as any of his contemporaries, who he tried to call out after the massacre, leading to a few cringey post-fight moments.
It was good to see Gabriel Flores getting a handy one in front of his home fans. Once a solid prospect, Gabe has suffered some heavy beatings of late and needed a confidence builder. The 23-year-old iced journeyman Derrick Murray with a counter left hook in round one. He's had a hard life outside of the ring and the team needs to be realistic about what he can and can’t achieve, moving forward.
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About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 400 eps. 15+ years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief script writer for Motivedia channel. For enquiries: email@example.com.