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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: HANEY-LOMACHENKO, THE POSTMORTEM

By Paul Magno | May 22, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: HANEY-LOMACHENKO, THE POSTMORTEM

I get a kick out of boxing fans and media arguing over degrees of robbery. Like, if the fight is close, then it’s acceptable to expect that maybe the wrong guy might be declared the winner. That’s how much us boxing people have become conditioned to accept incompetence and chicanery as an integral, fundamental part of our sport. If boxing logic were applied to the NBA, poor officiating would be more tolerated in a close game because, well, it was close anyway and shit happens. 

People, Vasiliy Lomachenko won that fight on Saturday-- and I say that as someone who had picked Haney to win fairly comfortably. It was certainly a close fight (I had it scored 115-113 for Lomachenko), but it’s hard to make a case for a Haney win if you scored each round fairly and without pulling your own narratives into the scoring. 

Most of the fighters I’ve seen talk about this fight and most of the fans had Lomachenko winning. The only firm “Haney won” outliers seem to be among the media, and we should come to expect nothing less than dubious boxing thought processes from that lot. I actually saw one media dolt’s scorecard read 7 rounds to 2 in Haney’s favor going into the tenth, which would’ve required him to give Haney just about every benefit of every doubt in every close round.

It’s possible to have the fight 114-114 or 115-113 for Haney without being a dolt. The first few rounds, especially, were close and hard to score. But it’s just hard to see Haney taking enough of those rounds to make up for Lomachenko’s second half surge.

And on the subject...let’s talk about Dave Moretti’s 116-112 score for Haney, which was really bad, not just for the overall tally, but for his scoring of clear Lomachenko rounds later in the fight for Haney (he gave five of the last six rounds to Haney). On the Haney-Lomachenko undercard, he had Muhammad Ali’s grandson Nico Ali Walsh beating Danny Rosenberger in a bout that Rosenberger should’ve won, but one that ended as a generous draw. Just last week, Moretti issued the embarrassing 97-93 score in favor of Rances Barthelemy over Omar Juarez. Before that, he scored the second round in the Tank Davis-Ryan Garcia bout 10-10 despite Davis scoring a knockdown. That’s a lot of awfulness scrammed into a one-month period. I hate to sound ageist here, but it might be time for the 78-year-old to be put down (in the boxing judge sense). Maybe just TELL him he’s a judge and sit him at ringside with an arthritis-grip pen and a scorecard that goes straight in the trash after he submits it. 

I don’t want to hear about degrees of robbery or if this fight was too close to be considered a robbery. Whenever the wrong fighter wins a fight, it’s bad. And the wrong man was declared the winner on Saturday.

That’s a shame because Devin Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko was a good fight, a compelling fight. It deserved better than the subtext of “but I don’t think Haney won” that it’ll carry with it from this point forward. I doubt if anyone who bought a ticket to see the fight live or who paid the 60 bucks to watch the pay-per-view was disappointed-- until the very end. 

It wasn’t much of an action fight, at least not in the sense that either had to go to hell and back in the pursuit of victory. And, before you start writing your hate mail, I should make it clear that what I wrote above is not at all intended as a slam. Not every entertaining, compelling fight has to be Gatti-Ward. Sometimes, two fighters being really good at what they do and executing well is more than enough for a good night of boxing.

The pre-fight publicity pushed this one as a high-stakes chess match. And, on this rare occasion, the hype matched the reality. There was a lot of tactical jockeying for position and several ebbs and flows in momentum throughout the contest. It was a fun watch without the “WAR” aesthetics usually associated with a good prizefight.

Unfortunately, everything surrounding this good fight was crap. 

Not long before the actual bout, fans were shocked to learn that there was an “official” closed door commission weigh-in for the fighters on Friday morning, more than seven hours before the “ceremonial” weigh-in later that afternoon for the benefit of fans and media. 

Apparently, this has been regular practice inside the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) for a bit, a fact that had never been mentioned by the boxing media and was only addressed publicly by some after I made a bit of a stink about it. By the way, I got a chuckle out of some media lunkheads jumping on me with “Oh, you didn’t know that?” taunts, to which I responded with a “well, as the media ‘experts’ and self-described journalists, why hadn’t you ever bothered to bring it up?” I mean, seriously, a closed door weigh-in with no fans or media allowed to be present is rife with the possibility of shadiness and corruption. It boggles the mind that our boxing media, which brags incessantly about its “insider” knowledge and journalistic chops, would not see this rule change as a possible cause for concern. Or, maybe, they’re just industry shills who care more for the bosses than for the fans or the fighters. Yeah, that’s probably it.

In the specific case of Haney-Lomachenko, the early weigh-in would definitely work to the benefit of Haney, the naturally larger fighter, allowing him extra time to comfortably rehydrate before the opening bell. In a video posted immediately after the “official” commission weigh-in, Lomachenko, himself, mentioned that it took Haney “two or three” tries to make weight. Maybe he DIDN’T make weight and a deal was made to save the fight and Haney’s reputation. But, of course, we’d never know because the whole thing was done behind closed doors.

In a sport where death and permanent disability are legitimately possible outcomes, transparency and accountability are essential as part of the regulatory process. We’re getting less of that now and the media, whose primary job is to advocate for transparency and accountability, is helping keep things hush-hush. 

Haney’s shove of Lomachenko at Friday’s “ceremonial” weigh-in got more ESPN scrutiny and more attention from the NSAC, which pushed for a disciplinary hearing and ordered a physical to evaluate Lomachenko’s well-being, than Ismael Barroso’s career being skull-fucked by Tony Weeks a week earlier. Let that sink in. Take all of that into consideration the next time you hear the media or the commission talk about their concern for the fighters and their love for the sport. 

It’s a shame Haney-Lomachenko had to be splattered with this rotten diarrhea bomb of boxing shittiness. Both fighters came to the ring and performed wonderfully. They did their part. 

Unfortunately, you can’t walk into a shit and piss-covered porta potty in your best Sunday clothes and expect to come out clean. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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