Devin Haney is ready to send a message to the haters.
The undisputed lightweight champion and former three-division world titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko will square off in a highly-anticipated matchup on May 20.
Handlers are currently deciding whether to stage the 135-pound bout in Saudi Arabia or Las Vegas.
Haney vs. Lomachenko is three years in the making. In 2019, Haney was elevated by the WBC from interim to world champion after Lomachenko was named the franchise champion by the sanctioning body.
The franchise took a hit as Lomachenko was upset by Teofimo Lopez in their three-belt lightweight unification in October 2020 by unanimous decision in The Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Lopez would subsequently lose in his first defense to George Kambosos in November 2021 in New York.
Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) dominated Kambosos twice last year via dominant decisions. The first fight resulted in Haney becoming the undisputed champion. After Kambosos exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch, Haney outclassed him again four months later to seal the deal.
Haney, however, is choosing to improve his legacy rather than harboring a grudge. When the 24-year-old was on the rise, Lomachenko didn’t give him the shot that he felt he deserved. Now, Haney is the one calling the shots, but he still yearns to prove he’s the best 135-pound fighter in the world.
“Yeah, the tables turned. For a long time, Loma wouldn’t even say my name. At one point, I don’t think Loma even knew me because he wouldn’t even say my name,” Haney said to FightHub.
“Eventually, the tables started turning, and now here we are, and I’m giving Loma a shot. I don’t have to. When it was his turn, he didn’t have to, and he didn’t.
“It’s different. I want to show the world my skills. I want to take on the best fighters in the world. I’ve been saying this for a while.”
Haney also shared that he’s taken offense to the Ukrainian not giving certain fighters a shot at facing him.
“He calls out a lot of fighters, but he doesn’t fight them. Anybody that I ever called out that was willing to fight me, I fought, and this is another time me showing that. I called out Loma years ago. Here we are, years and years, and we’re fighting,” said Haney.
“It’s about legacy. I’ve been wanting to fight Loma. I knew I could beat him back then. I still feel the same way, and I will show it. You got to see. You got to tune in. It’s definitely going to be a different fight than it was years ago.
“It’s going to showcase my skills and showcase that I’m the best fighter in the world. I am the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. I’m just going to keep beating them one by one. Keep lining them up and knocking them down, and eventually, I’m going to get my respect.
“I’m definitely getting more respect than I was before, and after this fight [with Lomachenko], I’ll get even more respect after I’m victorious.”
Haney also acknowledged that Lomachenko looked shaky at times in his last fight against Jamaine Ortiz in October. The former two-time Olympic gold medalist still scored a unanimous decision in the 12-round bout.
Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) has won three fights in a row since the loss to Lopez, defeating Masayoshi Nakatani (TKO 9), Richard Commey (UD 12), and Jamaine Ortiz (UD 12).
But is Lomachenko fading?
“They say that because he had a bad performance, but one performance doesn’t define you,” said Haney. “We’re not studying Loma after his last performance. We’re studying him off of all his fights. His best performances, his worst performances. We’re studying him all around. One performance doesn’t define you.
“He was coming off a war, Ukraine, a lot to make that fight happen, and he was victorious against a young, hungry lion, like Jermaine Ortiz. So we got to see. We’re expecting the best Lomachenko on May 20t, and the best Devin Haney will show up that night.
“I see myself being dominant from round one until however many rounds it lasts. I see myself being dominant the whole time. I’ve been feeling like that.
“It’s not confidence now because I’ve been saying that I want to fight Loma back for years and years ago. Nothing has changed.”