Devin Haney shoves Vasiliy Lomachenko at their pre-fight staredown. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS – Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko both made weight for Saturday night’s fight, but it was what happened afterwards that has boxing buzzing.
Haney weighed in at 134.9 pounds, while Lomachenko came in at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds. In play is Haney’s Ring Magazine and undisputed lightweight championship.
During the customary stare down after the weigh-in, Haney jawed at Lomachenko, who stood stoically, before shoving him across the stage. Both fighters were immediately separated and taken off stage.
The incident comes as a surprise as Haney is mostly mild-mannered and has rarely gotten into verbal exchanges with previous opponents.
THIS ANGLE 😱#HaneyLoma | SAT | https://t.co/5NUYllW4TG pic.twitter.com/bRPRzAZFtk
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) May 19, 2023
“That was just a start. You see how easy I pushed him? He’s a smaller man, and I’ma impose my will on him,” said Haney to ESPN interviewer Bernardo Osuna.
Lomachenko says the stunt revealed more about Haney than it did about himself.
“He don’t have power,” said Lomachenko to Mark Kriegel. “He’s scared. Because I see it right now, 100 percent.”
Both fighters will square off at the MGM Grand. The 12-round bout will headline a three-bout ESPN Pay-Per-View telecast (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Haney (29-0, 15 knockouts) will be making the second defense of the Ring Magazine and undisputed lightweight championship. In his previous fight on October 16, Haney defeated George Kambosos, Jr. by unanimous decision, which was a rematch of their June 5 clash that saw Haney become the undisputed champion.
The 24-year-old Haney is co-promoted by Lou DiBella and Top Rank.
Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs), who is originally from Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Ukraine and now lives and trains in Camarillo, California, returned to action on October 29, defeating Jamaine Ortiz by unanimous decision. Lomachenko got off to a slow start, likely from ring ruse, before rallying to pull out the decision win.
The 35-year-old was penciled to face Kambosos on June 5 before being called to serve in the Ukraine army in its current conflict with Russia.
Lomachenko, a world titleholder in three weight divisions, is promoted by Top Rank and managed by Egis Klimas.
In the co-feature, Oscar Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) of Nogales, Mexico will square off against Adam Lopez (16-4 1 NC, 6 KOs). Both Valdez and Lopez, who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, weighed in at 132.1 pounds.
Opening the pay-per-view telecast, Raymond Muratalla (17-0, 14 KOs) of Fontana will face Jeremia Nakathila in a 10-round bout. Muratalla weighed 133.6 pounds. Nakathila, who resides in Windhoek, Namibia, came in at 133.9 pounds.
ESPN will air two fights, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT., including the clash between Andrew Moloney (25-2 1 ND, 16 KOs) of Australia and Japan’s Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs). The vacant WBO world junior bantamweight title will be on the line.
Moloney weighed in at 114.5 pounds. Nakatani weighed 114.6 pounds.
Nico Ali Walsh (8-0, 5 KOs) and Danny Rosenberger (13-9-4, 4 KOs) of Youngstown, Ohio will square off in an eight-round middleweight bout. Walsh, from Las Vegas, weighed 158.4 pounds. Rosenberger weighed in at 158 pounds.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]