By Matt Lieberman: WBC lightweight belt holder Devin Haney says the winner of tonight’s 135-pound championship between Vasily Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez still won’t be the undisputed champion until they go through him.
Haney (24-0, 15 KOs) says the real WBC champion at lightweight and the Franchise title that Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) has in his possession isn’t the real thing. It’s just a trinket that’s given out by the World Boxing Council.
Unfortunately for Haney, Loma and Teofimo haven’t mentioned him in their future plans after tonight’ss match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Teofimo (15-0, 12 KOs) could be moving up to 140 if he successfully unifies the 135-lb division.
With the WBC Franchise title that Teofimo will potentially be winning from Loma tonight, he can move up to 140 and go after the WBC light-welterweight champion Jose Ramirez.
There are many interesting fights available for Lopez, 23, once he moves up in weight. Fighting Haney won’t bring any money because he’s still a no-name with the casual boxing fans.
Lomachenko not interested in Haney fight
As for Lomachenko, he could be moving back down to super featherweight  to take on several of the top fighters in that division.
The promotional company that Lomachenko, 32, is signed with, Top Rank, promotes Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez, Jamel Herring, Shakur Stevenson, and Carl Frampton. Those are all elite 130-pounders that Lomachenko can fight when or if he moves back down to super-featherweight.
If Haney can beat some of the other top guys at 135 like Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis, and Luke Campbell, he’ll be worth it for Lomachenk to fight.
But right now, Haney’s best win on his resume is little known Alfredo Santiago, and he didn’t perform well against him.
You can partially blame it on Haney’s shoulder injury that he suffered in that fight, but he didn’t look good even before the injury. Haney was struggling from the outset.
Haney says he’s picking Lomachenko to beat Teofimo tonight, as he feels that he’s got the more versatile game to get the win. Devin says he thinks that Teofimo will be coming into tonight’s contest with Lomachenko looking for a knockout.
He doesn’t see that as the right game plan to beat Loma. Interestingly, Haney believes he would beat Lomachenko and Teofimo. There are not too many boxing fans that would pick the 21-year-old Haney to beat those guys, but he’s convinced that he’s got the talent and the ring smarts to do the job against both.
Devin picking Loma to win
“Loma never really looks cut. He looks pretty much the same as he always does,” said Devin Haney to Fighthype. “His body is never really cut. I think it’s going to be a good fight. I’m excited about it.
“I feel like Teofimo is a little bit nervous. This is his first step up fight on the big stage. He’s fighting the big bad Loma, so of course, he’s going to be nervous. Loma is just Loma. He’s serious and straight to the point.
“I think Loma is going to win, but it’s boxing; anything can happen. Teofimo is going in there with one game plan, and his only game plan is to try to knock Loma out,” Haney said when asked why he’s picking Lomachenko to beat Lopez.
The obvious choice is for Haney or anyone to pick Lomachenko to win the fight. He’s a proven fighter who has a lot more experience than Teofimo. Loma is a lot older as well, which could work for him or against him.
When you’re 32, it’s not good to be facing a 23-year-old with the size and power of Teofimo. That’s why Lomachenko is taking about dragging Teofimo into the deep end of the pool to try and keep him down so that he can’t land.
We’re probably going to see a lot of movement from Lomachenko tonight in the first eight rounds, and he may do it for the full twelve if Teofimo is still dangerous late in the fight.
Teofimo wants to land a “lucky punch”
“He thinks he’s going to land that lucky shot. Maybe it’s not lucky for him. He’s going to be setting it up all night, and I just think Loma won’t be there for it. It takes more to beat Lomachenko than just one big shot.
“I think Teofimo is more of a natural counter-puncher boxer. He’s always been a sharp boxer. He’s never been known as a real hard puncher. I think he can have more success than an ordinary boxer.
“Use a sharp counter and use his jab and fight Loma that way rather than go in there and try and land a lucky shot and try and put everything in it.
“It’s definitely a good style match-up because Teo is bigger, stronger, longer reach, so of course it’s a good style match-up,” Haney continued. “It’s the experience [of Lomachenko].
“He can go in there so many different ways. You can’t just go in there with one style and think, ‘This is going to work,’ because what if it doesn’t work? You’ve never been there with a fighter like Loma.
“I’m not saying he can’t beat him because Loma is beatable. I think so. I’m a firm believer in that. Me and Teofimo have something in common in that we both believe he’s beatable, but what if early he has no success?
“Is he going to break down mentally? We got to see,” said Haney.
With Teofimo’s power, it comes across like he’s looking for one big punch, but he just has heavy hands. He’s not trying to knock everyone out with every punch, but they’re still going down.
Tonight, Teofimo will make sure his punches count because he’s probably not going to be able to land a high percentage of his shots. Against an elusive target like Lomachenko, it won’t be surprising if Teofimo is limited to landing as low as 15 to 18% of his punches.
Haney would never look for one shot
“I’ve got experience as well,” said Haney when asked how he would handle facing Lomachenko. “I’ve got a good team around me. I would never go into a fight thinking I’m going to land one shot and thinking this is what it’s going to be.’
“This is never going to happen. I would never go in like that. The way he’s saying, it sounds like he’s just going in there to knock him out in taking about one shot that he’s going to try [Teofimo] and land.
“Me personally, I would never go in there like that. Of course,” Haney said when asked if he would try and win every minute of every round and not try and rely on his power.
“Is he going to stay in the division?” said Haney when asked if Lomachenko will stay at 135.
It goes without saying that Haney would never look for one big shot against a fighter like Lomachenko. Haney can’t look for one big shot against anyone because he’s not a puncher. He’s a pure boxer who wins his fights by out-boxing his opposition.
Haney does have a respectable amount of knockouts on his resume, but those wins came against lesser opposition without any ability. He’s never knocked out a good fighter before, but he’s never fought anyone yet.
Like with Ryan Garcia, that’s what boxing fans are waiting for. They want to see if Haney is for real or not or just a guy that looks good working out and bragging.
Devin: They got to go through me to become undisputed
“We got to see if he’s really going to stay in the division. I know if Teofimo wins, he’s going to go up to 140,” said Haney. “That’s why he petitioned for the [WBC lightweight] Franchise belt.
Why would you want the Franchise belt if you know that you could fight me, Devin Haney, and get the real undisputed title with all the belts? And why go for the Franchise belt? Why petition for the Franchise belt?
“Yeah, because it’s cap,” Haney said when asked if it bothers him that they showed all four 135-lb titles at the recent news conferences for the Lomachenko vs. Lopez fight. “That belt [Franchise] is nothing.
“It doesn’t have any meaning, but it’s okay. It comes with the territory. After the fight, it’ll all blow over, and they’ll know who the real champion is. As for the real undisputed, they know they got to go through me.
“I’m kind of happy because it sets it u for the real biggest fight in the division. It sets it up good. Everything will fall into place. Of course,” Haney said when asked if he’ll be ready to fight the winner of the Lomachenko vs. Teofimo fight in 2021.
Ideally, it would be great for the Lomachenko-Teofimo winner to face Haney, but it’s not going to happen. Those fighters can make more money fighting a rematch in 2021 or going after other fighters.
Although Haney has been a pro for about as long as Teofimo, he lacks his popularity because he’s not as charismatic, and he doesn’t win the way he does. The boxing world enjoys watching fighters that score many knockouts, and that’s what Teofimo does. Haney is more like Mayweather lite.
Devin has a style like Mayweather, but minus the speed and cat-like reflexes. Mayweather was better at attracting attention to his fights with his trash-talking and bragging about himself.
Haney: I’ve been in with the best
“With Teofimo, it’s more bad blood. Not real bad blood but two young guys with a history together. That fight would be crazy. Lomachenko doesn’t speak English.
“So the build-up wouldn’t be as good as me and Teofimo, but legacy-wise, Loma is the fight. I’m one of a kind. You haven’t seen a fighter like me before.
“I’m not one of those fighters that go in there with some hand me down information,” Haney on why he would beat Lomachenko and Teofimo.
“I’m a student of the game. I’ve been in this game for a while, and I’ve been in there with the best. When the time comes, the world will see,” said Devin.
I would venture to guess that when Haney says that he’s been in with the best, he’s referring to as a sparring partner. Haney’s resume is barren of names thus far, which is understandable given his age. The 21-year-old Haney has been a pro for only five years, and he’s not yet been tested.
It would be huge if Haney fought Lomachenoko or Teofimo, and there would be a lot of interest in that fight. Right now, though, it’s not a big enough match-up for Lopez and Lomachenko to go through the trouble of negotiating a fight with Haney.