Las Vegas — In a highly contested fight in front of a sold-out crowd of 14,436 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Devin Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) remained the undisputed and undefeated WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and WBO lightweight champion with a unanimous 12-round victory  over former three-time champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs.) The judges scored the fight 115-113 (Tim Cheatham), 115-113 (Dave Moretti), and 116-112 (David Sutherland).  

For the 24-year-old Haney, who was born in San Francisco, spent much of early years in Oakland, then moved to Las Vegas at 14 with his father and current trainer, Bill Haney, the boisterous fans in the building were overwhelmingly supporting his 35-year-old challenger even though Haney was fighting the Ukrainian Lomachenko in America. However, Haney’s detractors left disappointed, expressing their emotions with loud boos after the controversial decision was announced. An angry fan even threw what appeared to be a beer bottle at Bill Haney.

RELATED: Haney faces toughest matchup of his career versus Lomachenko

“(Lomachenko) was my toughest opponent by far,” Haney acknowledged. “He’s a crafty fighter.  He turns it up in the championship rounds. I just have to take my hat off to him. He’s a great fighter.” 

The fight was close throughout, with Haney dictating the terms early with a steady jab and piercing body shots. Lomachenko, one of the most skilled fighters of this generation, who had a legendary amateur career, winning two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, came on strong at the end and seemingly closed the gap on the judges’ scorecards. But the three judges who had the final say had Haney winning by a much wider margin than many concluded.

“I don’t want to talk about the decision,” said Lomachenko afterward. “All [the] people see what happened here today.” Lomachenko cried in his locker room in frustration.  Haney hinted that he might be moving up in weight class. “I’ve been here at 135 since I was 16 years old,” he said. “We’re going to go back to the lab and figure out what’s next.”
Undefeated former Olympian Shakur Stevenson was not only at the fight, but stepped into the ring after the fight to issue a challenge. “Me and Shakur are on a collision course,” Haney asserted. “We’re definitely going to get it on when the time is right.”
He also discussed a potential mega fight with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, who previously held multiple world titles in three weight classes.

“Me and Tank is a massive fight,” said Haney of a potential matchup against Davis, who defeated previously unbeaten Ryan Garcia three weeks ago in Las Vegas.
Lomachenko and his team were mildly complimentary of Haney. “Before, I thought he would be better,” said the bitter adversary, who was once known as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. “He’s a tough fighter. He’s a good fighter. But he’s not a pound-for-pound fighter.”

Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s trainer, deemed the decision unjust. “I’m gonna say it just like it is,” Klimas declared: “This is the biggest robbery in the middle of the day. For [Haney’s team], Christmas came in the summer…I guarantee we’re gonna appeal.”

Earlier in the evening, Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of Muhammad Ali, battled journeyman Danny Rosenberger (13-9-4) to a 77-75, 76-76, 75-77 draw. Ali is now 9-0-1 with five KOs. It was the first time the 22-year-old Walsh fought an eight-round  fight.

In other combat sports news, former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou signed an exclusive deal with the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL) that will see him both box and engage MMA contests. Ngannou, who is from Cameroon, will also become chair of PFL Africa.

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