By Dan Ambrose: Paulie Malignaggi sees undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney as being a difficult task for the smaller, older Vasyl Lomachenko on May 20th.
Malignaggi notes that Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) has wanted to be an undisputed champion since he turned professional a decade ago in 2013, and he may have missed out on his best chance of accomplishing that when he opted not to face George Kambosos Jr when he held all the belts.
On the other hand, Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) is the legitimate four-belt champion at 135, and he’s arguably more well-respected than Kambosos Jr.
So if Lomachenko can find a way to deal with Haney’s length, jab, and youth, he’s going to receive a massive amount of credit from the boxing public.
Haney, 24, could prove to be a nightmare for Lomachenko due to his reach, powerful jab, and the way that he ties up his shorter opponents when they get near enough to him to throw shots. In both of Haney’s fights against Kambosos, he was clinching nonstop, and referees let him get away with it.
“Haney-Lomachenko, finally, it looks like the fight is made. There were a lot of lingering questions about whether Haney could make the weight, about whether he was going to move up in weight, and so on and so forth,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Pauly TV.
“Lomachenko has wanted a crack at the undisputed title for so long. I know that’s been his main goal ever since he turned pro to become the undisputed world champion. Now he’s going to have the opportunity.
“He let that opportunity slip away from him when he turned down the Kambosos fight earlier with the war in Ukraine. This is a guy that has been going through a lot with the war in Ukraine, family and friends over there, businesses over there. A lot has been impacted on his life.
“This fight means a lot to him from the standpoint of boxing greatness, finances, and also the legitimacy as the undisputed lightweight in the division. Devin Haney is not going to be easy. I’ve criticized Devin Haney in the past.
“I believe he’s had an easier route up to the undisputed title than anyone else I’ve ever seen in my life, but nevertheless, he’s still the undisputed champion, and the skillset he performs with has to be kept in mind. He’s a big lightweight that knows how to use both his physical size and his terrific athleticism.
“He’s got a lot of speed, a great sense of timing, and fast feet. He sets a lot of good traps as well. He fights in a basic way, but there are a lot of traps in the basic way that he fights.
“I think this fight can evolve into something good. I do think Haney is going to have to show more than the basics if he’s going to win this fight. Despite him having the size advantage, Lomachenko has had trouble with bigger lightweights, but he’s also shown that he knows how to beat them as well in some cases.
“I think this fight should be a good fight. I heard it was in New York. That was one of the rumors. That it was at Madison Square Garden or the Middle East. I’m not sure. Boxing is starting to wake up in 2023 after a lot slow start, and we need to get all the big fights that we can get.
“I know Anthony Joshua is returning in April. I didn’t bring that up in this video because it’s not a big fight. Hopefully, Fury and Usyk get made for the undisputed heavyweight title soon as well. I’ll be breaking down those fights,” said Malignaggi.