Out with the old, but not Loma

ED C. TOLENTINO

2023-05-26T07:00:00.0000000Z

2023-05-26T07:00:00.0000000Z

The Manila Times

https://digitaledition.manilatimes.net/article/281981791959414

Sports

IT is easy to understand why many boxing fans are rallying behind Vasiliy Lomachenko following his recent decision loss to American Devin Haney for the undisputed (WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO) lightweight (135 pounds) championship. When Lomachenko unabashedly cried after the heart-breaking loss, many fans were moved. You see, Lomachenko went into the fight with a lot of things in his mind. Lomachenko’s native Ukraine is embroiled in a brutal war with Russia. While rendering military service, Lomachenko also had to relocate his family to ensure their safety. Lomachenko returned to the United States and resumed boxing, but not a few thought he was already damaged goods at age 35. Lomachenko lost the unified lightweight belts to Teofimo Lopez in October 2020 and looked pedestrian in carving out a decision win over Jermaine Ortiz last October 29, his last fight before taking on Haney. Despite all the domestic upheaval, Lomachenko somehow managed to come up with his most impressive showing in recent years against Haney. He was able to turn back the clock. Haney got off to a great start as he peppered Lomachenko with elongated left jabs and right hands. Lomachenko though kept the pressure and started to find his range as Haney began to tire down the stretch. Lomachenko hurt Haney on several occasions and finished strong. Unfortunately, all three judges scored the fight for Haney. Judges Tim Cheatham and David Sutherland both scored it a close 115-113 for Haney. Judge Dave Moretti scored it a surprising 116-112 for Haney. Based on Moretti’s scorecard, Haney won 8 of the 12 rounds. The crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada booed in unison as Haney was declared the winner. Boxing fans and even incumbent stars labeled the decision a “robbery.” American Ryan Garcia, who recently figured in a marquee fight with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, claimed Lomachenko landed the cleaner shots and should have won. Former boxing star turned promoter Oscar de la Hoya claimed he closely watched the fight from ringside and gave 8 rounds to Lomachenko. De la Hoya averred that Lomachenko did not just press the action, the latter also landed the more effective punches. “That’s how you win fights,” mused de la Hoya. Boxing fans are pointing to Dave Moretti as the perpetrator of the “robbery.” Moretti scored the 10 th round for Haney despite the fact that it was clearly Lomachenko’s best round in the fight. The two other judges gave the round to Lomachenko. From where this writer sits, the allegation of robbery is bereft of legal basis. In the first place, no evidence has been adduced showing that corruption marred the scoring of the judges. Moretti scored it 116-112. If Moretti scored the 10th round for Lomachenko, his score would have read 115-113, the same scores given by the two other judges. Haney still would have won in such a scenario. The fight was really very close and no boxer thoroughly dominated. There were several rounds that could have gone either way. The fight could have easily been declared a draw. Lomachenko’s manager Egis Klimas told reporters that he will appeal the verdict. Latest reports have it that Klimas has sent letters to the head honchos of the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO asking them to make Lomachenko their mandatory contender to force a rematch with Haney. Haney is unperturbed about the result of the fight, even insisting that he clearly won. As the champ, however, he should man up and give Lomachenko a rematch. Haney should make the first move if only to show that he is bent on settling all doubts about the decision. This should be the mindset of a true champ. A rematch may not be that easy to make, though. The fight came into fruition because both fighters were under the wings of Top Rank Promotions. Haney’s deal with Top Rank expired after the Lomachenko fight. Also, Haney is contemplating on moving up to the junior welterweight or 140-pound division. This move is doubtful though, particularly in the aftermath of Haney’s performance against Lomachenko. Lomachenko was a blown-up featherweight who gave the bigger Haney a plethora of problems. Haney’s confidence was shaken and this makes a move to a heavier weight class doubtful. If Haney failed to convincingly whip the smaller Lomachenko, he figures to have his hands full against the bigger junior welterweights. Predictably, Haney (30-0, 15 knockouts) recently talked about extending his stay at lightweight and fighting the likes of Shakur Stevenson and Gervonta Davis. Truth be told, if Haney is staying at lightweight, his first order of business should be to get a rematch with Lomachenko.

en-ph