The lightweight division is in the spotlight this weekend as former 135-pound unified champion Loma aka Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) battles undisputed champion Devin “The Dream” Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) in Las Vegas against former 135-pound unified champion Loma Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs).
The 24-year-old Haney will be boxing in the city he now calls home, after spending 2022 accumulating some serious air miles.
Both of Haney's 2022 bouts took place in Melbourne, Australia.
In June he boxed rings around George Kambosos Jr. at Marvel Stadium to become undisputed at lightweight. October saw the American boxer cross the pacific again as Kambosos Jr. had a rematch clause and an idea he could win the titles back.
Rod Laver Arena played host to the rematch which was won in similar fashion by Haney.
Haney's assignment on Saturday looks like it will be altogether more difficult.
Ukraine's Vasiliy Lomachenko is looking to prove those who say he is on the decline at 35-years-old wrong.
The supremely talented southpaw has at times been known as “Hi-Tech” and “The Matrix” thanks to his other-worldly footwork, distance control and masterful boxing skills.
Loma is on a three-fight winning streak following his shock defeat to Teofimo Lopez in 2020.
Depending on who you like in this fight, the narrative is as follows: Haney has too many key factors in his favour at this stage of both men's careers; speed, power, athleticism and youth.
On the other hand, Loma fans can counter by pointing out that Haney has not faced anyone with the Ukrainian's skill set and versatility. The champion could be in for a long night against the crafty Loma.
It's a fascinating matchup and an intriguing tactical fight should unfold inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena ring on Saturday night.
Coverage for TV viewers will be provided by ESPN+ PPV in America ($59.99) and Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland.
Will Haney wake up dreaming on Sunday, still the undisputed champion or will Lomachenko reload the Matrix and show he can match and defeat the new generation of lightweight stars?
That's the double-barrelled question the NY Fights writers and some friends of the site attempt to answer below. Over to the panel……
Guest Contributors Have The First Word
Scott Murray, UK boxing promoter, owner BarSport and Premier Suite: Haney vs. Loma will be a terrific non-stop action fight.
Although I expect Haney to have his moments of brilliance, I think Loma will be technically too good for Haney. Loma to win on a close points decision.
Raquel Vasquez, entrepreneur (Raquel Queen of Bail), writer: When I think about Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko I think of Haney as being much bigger, but Lomachenko is only one inch shorter than him. However, the Matrix has such a small frame especially in the shoulder area.
Both boxers are extremely skilled and disciplined. Both give the “perfectionist” vibe. The big difference here is age and power.
The amount of movement Loma uses on the dance floor, or boxing ring as we see it, will not disappoint. Combine this with Haney's jabs and moves and we should get an action-packed fight.
One of Haney's best assets is his unique jab from a low stance with an upward reach.
But let's see how that works against a southpaw. Lomachenko is considered one of the best fighters pound-for-pound. Many, like Bob Arum say this is a 50/50 fight, but again I think age and power will be a factor.
I predict that Haney will take the W by decision after wearing out the 35-year-old Matrix. I had a short conversation with Coach Marco Norato of Muscles and Knuckles Boxing Gym in Burbank Ca. When asked his prediction he answered:
“It's going to be a tricky fight. Lomachenko can win if he starts aggressively, right away. If the fight goes the distance Haney will win, but Loma could win this fight.”
We all have love and respect for both athletes. May the best fighter win.
Tim Brown, Tennessee based sports investor, boxing sharp: I know Haney has all the perceived advantages – height, reach, speed, power and more importantly youth.
He may also be peaking closer to his prime, while Loma is clearly on the other side of his peak.
Coming into this fight I can't help but reminisce about an old 80s scrap between a young champion Davey Moore and an old lion Roberto Duran. Plenty thought Duran was finished, just like they think Loma is.
I think after the first few rounds Loma will hit the gas and begin to take Haney to a point of no return.
Loma's combination of pressure/infighting at different angles will negate Haney's ability to control the fight from the outside and exhaust him as the fight goes on.
I'm thinking making the weight for Haney may play a part in this as well. I should say this is purely speculation on my part but it is my gut feeling.
I was sincerely elated for Haney when he won all the belts. Two wins that came in dominating fashion but let's not lie to ourselves, Kambosos Jr. is no Loma.
I'm afraid over confidence in his abilities and underestimating Loma will play a major part in Haney's downfall in this scrap. I'm prepared to eat crow if I'm wrong. I'm going with the upset.
Loma via split decision. The cards will read 116-112, 113-115, 115-113.
Ernie Green, founder/host of The Chat, journalist and comedian: Loma is the toughest opponent, by far, Haney has ever faced. And he will jump out to an early lead.
But Haney is a crafty fighter himself, and his age advantage will wear the already long in the tooth Loma down in the later rounds and win a decision in what should be a very good fight.
Nayka Mercedes, broadcaster In The Ring With Christine on YouTube #WCIW: Devin Haney is known for his speed, footwork and technical skills. Some might argue that youth and hunger give Haney an edge over Lomachenko, who has been in the sport for a longer time, and I agree with that.
Haney has an advantage in his size. A huge one.
If Haney can use his size and reach to his advantage, he may be able to keep Lomachenko at bay and outbox him.
We can't ignore that Lomachenko is a highly skilled and experienced fighter. This will not be an easy fight for Haney. It is difficult to predict the outcome of this matchup, but I have Devin Haney coming out on top via unanimous decision.
I'm excited that we are getting these two elite boxers in the ring this weekend.
Rhys McCole, former Scottish Amateur boxing champion, current boxing coach: This is such an interesting matchup. Many people are rightly talking about Haney's excellent jab and his reach advantage.
Loma, many see as a boxer on the decline. We will understand much more after this fight.
Both are highly skilled. Haney is big at the weight. Loma is fast and his tactics change constantly. I think it boils down to this: whoever lands the most punches wins via points.
Haney has to be the favourite I guess; however I will let my heart rule my head. I will go for Loma to win on points.
The NY Fights Crew Chime In
Michael Woods, NYF founder/Editor-in-Chief: Loma starts too slow. Four rounds of data collection, nah.
Haney got him where he wants him, which is as a 35-year-old. Reflexes dim, doesn't not happen. Haney UD, four point margin.
Gayle Falkenthal, NYF West Coast Bureau Chief: Vasiliy Lomachenko is a first ballot lock for the Hall of Fame. He is among boxing's all-time best amateurs. Nevertheless, at age 35 his best days are not ahead of him.
Lomachenko reigned as a featherweight. Now he's an undersized lightweight against an opponent who's a welterweight in a lightweight's body.
Devin Haney can use his size and reach advantages to stay at distance, fire his formidable jab, and outbox the master boxer.
Top Rank is promoting the fight as a chess match, and that's exactly what it will be. It will be competitive, but the younger, fresher Haney will hold onto his belts by decision.
Jacob Rodriguez, NYF New York State Editor: I think “No Mas” Chenko is going to surprise us all.
Yes, Devin Haney will be a tactician and look for opportunities to counter Lomachenko. Haney will be successful in the first few rounds of the fight.
However, one thing Loma knows how to do well is adjust to whatever his opponent is doing. The Ukrainian will use his swift footwork and will position himself to hit and not be hit.
With each passing round Loma will chip away at the champion's early lead and before Haney knows it, he will fall right into Lomachenko's game plan.
Lomachenko wins a unanimous decision and becomes the new undisputed king of the lightweight division.
Lucas Ketelle, boxing guru, published author, media professional and golf legend: A draw.
James Lupton, founder SlothBoxx YouTube channel, boxing interviewer and writer: This is a fantastic fight and one that is difficult to pick a winner in. How much does Lomachenko have left? Not desire or ability, but how much time does the Ukrainian wizard have? Father Time will always remain undefeated.
Devin Haney is the younger, fresher fighter who is also the champion which is a factor that cannot be underestimated. Being a champion gives you an added invincibility feel.
Haney is likely to be the betting favourite but Lomachenko is a man who can never be written off. Whilst I struggle to make a pick on who wins, apart from the fans as cliche as that is, what I do think is we will see 12 rounds of mastery.
Ryan O'Hara, award winning boxing writer: Haney by split decision. Closer fight than most expect.
Matthew Pomara, writer, Long Island correspondent: Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko will supplant Ryan Garcia vs. Tank Davis as the biggest fight of 2023.
Haney brings youth and a slick boxing defence against one of the best fighters of the last decade. It is the classic boxing trope of the young lion against the old lion.
Haney is the favoured fighter right now, but Loma is a live underdog. Every great fighter thinks they have one more bout in them, this will be Loma's chance to prove that fact.
For Loma to win this he will need to start much faster than he did against Teofimo Lopez.
Lopez's power was a deterrent for Loma to get out quick and he didn't hit the gas until much too late in that fight. Haney does not possess that power and I don't see Loma making the same mistake here.
Loma by unanimous decision.
Hector Franco, boxing writer, film critic: There is a famous boxing saying that every great fighter has one more great fight left in them.
Vasiliy Lomachenko shouldn't be considered old or even far removed from his prime. Against Haney he will be the underdog for the first time since he faced Orlando Salido in his second pro bout.
Clearly, Haney has the physical advantages in youth, height and reach. And with Gervonta Davis and Shakur Stevenson at lightweight, he also may hold an edge in wanting to further prove himself as the best lightweight in the division.
Based on some of Haney's comments, he wants not only to win but to do so in dominating fashion. There could be some deception in both fighters' recent performances. Lomachenko's previous opponent, Jamaine Ortiz, is better than most lightweights and would probably be the best opponent Haney has faced thus far.
Also, against George Kambosos Jr., Haney won almost every round but didn't put on virtuoso performances; instead, he chose to make John Ruiz and Wladimir Klitschko blush by holding almost as much as he punched.
Regardless, boxing is usually a young man's game despite differences in prior competition; being in your prime matters. How Harvey Dock referees this fight could determine how it plays out.
At the end of the day, this is Haney's fight to win. He is 24 and a fighter with a longer future in the sport ahead of him.
My guess is that Haney wins a unanimous decision in a fight the judges award wide scorecards to him. The fight will likely be closer with a few swing rounds and Lomachenko coming on late.
Matt Andrzejewski, boxing columnist: I think this fight looks similar to Lomachenko vs. Russell. Lomachenko by wide unanimous decision.
Colin Morrison, NYF UK Editor: What a fight.
After weighing everything up I find myself inclined to agree with my colleague Lucas Ketelle and predict that this one will end in a draw.
While Haney holds many advantages in theory, I think Lomachenko presents him with enough problems to solve that he can't fully impose himself for long enough periods to dominate.
Lomachenko will stay in the hunt and do enough to accumulate enough rounds across the three scorecards to earn himself a draw. Book the rematch for later on this year.
Final Tally – Haney 7; Lomachenko 6; Draw 2; Undecided 1