Devin Haney claimed Thursday that he is a level above Vasiliy Lomachenko, and not just based on subjective placement on pound-for-pound lists.
The 24-year-old Haney conceded that the three-division champion remains “a good fighter,” just not as good as the undefeated, undisputed lightweight champ. Haney made his proclamation as he and Lomachenko sat just a few feet apart on a stage in Los Angeles, where they promoted their May 20 fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“The better the opposition, you know, the better I am as a fighter, the more I rise,” Haney told Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher, who moderated the press conference. “And Loma is a good fighter, but I’m just on a totally different level. And on fight night, the world will see that. The world will see how good Devin Haney really is.”
Haney (29-0, 15 KOs), who has opened as more than a 2-1 favorite versus Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs), dominated Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. in back-to-back 12-round, 135-pound title fights in 2022. The Oakland native became boxing’s fully unified lightweight champion when he out-classed the previously unbeaten Kambosos (20-2, 10 KOs) in their first fight last June 5 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.
Lomachenko, meanwhile, got off to a slow start in his last fight, a 12-rounder against underdog Jamaine Ortiz on October 29 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. The 35-year-old Lomachenko came back to out-point Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) on all three scorecards (117-111, 116-112, 115-113), but the two-time Olympic gold medalist drew criticism for his uneven performance.
The skillful, taller Haney, of Henderson, Nevada, praised Lomachenko at times Thursday. The IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound champion contended, though, that their ESPN Pay-Per-View main event might not be the chess match that the promotional posters for their intriguing fight indicate it inevitably will become.
“You gotta see,” Haney said. “I don’t know. I never shared the ring with Loma yet, so I don’t know what type of fighter he is, how good he really is. Is he what they say he is? On paper? Yes, definitely, he has shown against different opponents he rose to the occasion on every night that he’s stepped in there. He showed a high IQ. But I’m just a totally different fighter. I’m on a totally different level. So, it may be a chess match – it may not be. I may just walk through him. We gotta see.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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