Vasyl Lomachenko was overcome with emotion as tears welled up in his eyes upon returning to his dressing room after his unanimous decision loss to Devin Haney on Saturday night.
The judges' scorecards sparked a divisive reaction among fans, with some going so far as to label it a 'robbery', highlighting the closely contested and fiercely competitive nature of the bout.
An emotional Lomachenko reflects backstage. pic.twitter.com/DQGvsrOxBo— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 21, 2023
Haney set the tone for the fight with an explosive and aggressive start, launching a barrage of powerful shots to both Lomachenko's head and body within the opening minute. However, Lomachenko quickly adjusted and showcased his exceptional footwork in the first round, skillfully maneuvering past Haney's jab to find openings for his own combinations.
Contrary to his usual methodical approach, Lomachenko caught the American off guard by immediately engaging in the bout without wasting any time. In the second round, Haney relied heavily on his jab, effectively keeping Lomachenko at bay and countering with well-placed body shots whenever the Ukrainian attempted to close the distance and launch his own attacks.
From the opening bell, the boxing match showcased an impressive display of skill as both fighters continuously outmaneuvered each other with their tactical moves.
The third round proved to be a positive one for Lomachenko, who expertly utilized his speed and agility, darting in and out of range and landing punches with increased accuracy. Although Haney retaliated with a powerful left hook, he started to experience the impact of Lomachenko's consistent combinations.
This trend carried into the fourth round, as Haney struggled to rely solely on his jab to keep Lomachenko at bay, contrary to pre-fight expectations. Lomachenko's accuracy waned slightly in the early stages of the fifth round, while Haney found a defensive rhythm and effectively employed uppercuts to the body.
However, another shift in momentum occurred, with the challenger swiftly regaining control and showcasing his speed in exchanges shortly after. As the fight reached its halfway point at the end of the sixth round, it appeared to be evenly balanced, with neither fighter clearly dominating.
Haney started strongly in the second half of the bout, asserting control in round seven. The eighth and ninth rounds were relatively quieter, with the champion appearing to have the upper hand while the challenger struggled to replicate his previous success in closing the distance.
Lomachenko staged a late surge in the ninth round, prompting a strong response from Haney, who retaliated with powerful body shots. As they entered the championship rounds, the fight still hung in the balance due to the close nature of many rounds, leaving the scorecards far from definitive.
In the tenth round, Lomachenko launched a relentless assault, briefly staggering Haney. Although the American regained his composure, his left eye began to swell. Haney faltered in the eleventh round, unable to keep Lomachenko at bay, while the Ukrainian fighter showcased dominance.
The latter stages of the fight belonged to Lomachenko as he relentlessly pressed forward, landing punishing blows and hurting Haney with a right hook. However, in the final round, Haney executed a final shift in momentum, regaining control of the distance and avoiding further punishment.
When the final bell rang, uncertainty hung in the air, making it unclear which fighter would emerge victorious. The judges' scorecards were then announced, all favoring Haney with scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 115-113, resulting in a unanimous decision in his favor.
When the announcement came, Haney smiled broadly. And for good reason. He had dodged an Eastern European bullet, retained his championship and claimed the most significant victory of his young career. Lomachenko looked both baffled and dejected, a clear sign that he expected to have his hand raised.
Afterward, Haney simply heaped more praise on his fallen opponent.
“He’s a crafty fighter,” he said. “He turned it up in the championship rounds. I just have to take my hat off to him. He’s a great fighter.”
Giving his immediate reaction, Loma said: "I don't want to talk about this. All people see what happened today. I can't talk about this right now, it's just not a comfortable moment for me."
He was later seen heading back to his dressing room and breaking down in tears.
Loma later explained: "I just remembered that my son today called me seven times and every time told me, 'And the new, and the new.' I remembered this moment, it was very hard for me."