Devin Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) did just enough to retain his undisputed lightweight championship with a 12 round unanimous decision over Vasily Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) on Saturday night in the main event on ESPN PPV at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The scores were as follows:
Haney edged many of the rounds with his body punching, but he faded later and appeared to lose most, if not all, of the championship rounds from 9 to 12.
It wasn’t the type of performance from Haney that showed that he was the best at 135 like he’s been bragging about.
In fact, he looked barely better than Lomachenko tonight and would have been in serious trouble if he had been fighting Gervonta Davis or Shakur Stevenson.
In tonight’s co-feature bout, former two-division world champion Oscar Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs) cruised to a lopsided ten round unanimous decision over Adam “BluNose” Lopez (16-5, 6 KOs) in their rematch.
Valdez was hit a lot by the 27-year-old Lopez, but he showed no concerns as he kept marching forward round after round, landing his harder punches to impress the judges.
The scores were: 98-92, 98-91, and 97-93. At the end of the contest, Valdez called out Emanuel Navarrete, the WBO super featherweight champion.
Lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla (18-0, 15 KOs) destroyed the experienced Jeremia Nakathila (23-3, 19 KOs), knocking him out in the second round of their scheduled ten round bout.
Nakathilia, 33, was backed into a corner by Muratalla and nailed with repeated heavy shots to the head that had him. The referee Robert Hoyle quickly stepped in and halted it to save Nakathilia. The fight was stopped at 2:48.
For Nakathilia, this was the first time in his ten-year career that he’d been knocked out. He’d been out of the ring for over a year since victory over Miguel Berchelt in March 2022. In hindsight, Nakathilia should have taken a couple of tune-ups before fighting Muratalla.
Unbeaten knockout artist Junto Nakatani (25-0, 19 KOs) put on a vicious uppercut clinic, beating the daylights out of Andrew Moloney (25-3, 16 KOs) in a twelfth round knockout in the best fight on tonight’s Haney-Lomachenko undercard by a wide margin.
As good as this fight was, it likely could steal the show from the main event. It’s fair to say that a star was born tonight, with the 25-year-old Junto Nakatani looking like 24k gold, knocking Moloney down in rounds 2, 11, and 12.
In the 12th, Nakatani laid Moloney out with a brutal-looking left to the head that had him hurt on the canvas.
It was a big mistake for Moloney’s corner to let him come out for the twelfth round because he had taken a beating during the previous eleven round, and the last three had been really bad for him.
Middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (8-0-1, 5 KOs) labored to an eight round draw against Danny Rosenberger (13-9-5, 4 KOs).
Nico, the 22-year-old grandson of boxing great Muhammad Ali, looked puzzled in how to deal with the mobility of Rosenberger, and wound up getting outboxed much of the time.
The judges’ scores were 77-75 for Ali Walsh, 77-75 for Rosenberg, and 76-76. It was not a good performance from Nico.
Preview: Devin Haney got the boxing world’s attention by pushing Lomachenko hard at their weigh-in on Friday. The move by Haney could result in him being fined, but with his purse being $4 million, he likely won’t be too upset about losing a little of his loot for his action.
“Haney said to Lomachenko this week. He looked at him and goes, ‘I know you’re practicing at hitting on the break,’ and Lomachenko goes, ‘How do you know I’m practicing?’ ‘I know,’ which I also thought was mature and gamesmanship that you normally see from a more mature fighter,” said Max Kellerman on Max on Boxing.
“He’s putting it out there to where if it’s true, Lomachenko now believes that Haney has a spy in his camp, which makes you paranoid.”
“These are all the little skirmishes in the battles that you face before you get to the ultimate war. This is high-level boxing. Anything goes, everything goes, and you just Devin Haney in this big moment exercising those liberties,” said Andre Ward.
“It’s mental warfare. That’s what it is,” said Tim Bradley. “I think once they step foot inside the ring and they get going, Lomachenko is going to test Haney, and he’s going test him late.
“If Haney raises his game with Lomachenko and somewhat passes him, then he can take over the fight, and then he’ll beat Lomachenko. But if Lomachenko thinks Haney isn’t rising to the level he is, Lomachenko can definitely win the back half of this fight and make it tough for Haney to win.”
“I’ll remind everyone that Lomachenko has two losses as a pro. The first one to Orlando Salido was a fight where he’d never been 12 and he was pacing himself. He didn’t really know how to fight on the inside and fight dirty yet, and he almost stopped Salido late.
“In the next one against Teofimo Lopez, he was losing the fight, losing the fight and started to rough Teofimo and started coming on late.
“Does he still have that in him if he’s in this fight, and if he does, can Haney rise to the next level?”
“I believe in what Haney is saying,” said Ward. “If you believe you’re going to be pound-for-pound #1 and send him out of boxing. If you feel that way because he didn’t fight you four years ago, bring all that into the ring. You just got to execute.”
“I don’t think he’s pound-for-pound #1,” said Bradley about Haney.
“He believes he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter,” said Kellerman about Haney.
“He’s supposed to,” said Ward.
“I think he’s seething underneath that he’s not identified like Tank is or Shakur is or someone like that,” said Kellerman about Haney.
“Although he’s a champion, his resume is thin,” said Bradley about Haney. “That’s the reason why everyone isn’t jumping on the bandwagon about Haneey, and that’s the reason why it’s a close fight. A lot of people don’t know who is going to win this fight, including myself.
“I have my opinion just based on the facts. I think it’s going to be Haney, but you just don’t know.”
“Do you know how many guys with the HBOs and the Showtimes of the world, say, ‘This is the guy.’ He wasn’t the guy,” said Ward. “So this is Devin Haney’s route and if he feels that way about it, feel that way. If you feel like you’re being overlooked, feel that way about it.
“What I like about Devin Haney is you see him in the gym. He’s gotten incrementally better and better. People get mad because he did do it his way. They don’t apologize for how they did it. So that rubs people a little bit.
“He’s flashy. He wears his stuff a little bit and lets you know about it. If you feel you’re the #1 in the world, go prove it, but talk your talk and feel that way. Us boxing pundits and experts, we want a lot,” said Ward.
“Some guys aren’t meant to be superstars, but they beat the superstars. Haney maybe one of them,” said Ward, without naming any superstars that Haney has beaten.
In a 50-50 fight tonight on ESPN PPV, lightweight champion Devin Haney, the guy with all the major belts at 135, defends his four titles against underdog Vasyl Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) in an event that starts at 10:00 p.m. ET at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) beats Loma, he could face Gervonta Davis or Shakur Stevenson in a massive PPV fight against either guy.