By Sam Volz: Vasily Lomchenko can’t afford to start slow and give away the first half of the fight against undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney on May 20th if he hopes to win this fight.
Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) doesn’t possess the power to rally for a late stoppage if needed. In Loma’s loss to Teofimo Lopez in 2020, he started way too slowly, giving away many, if not all, of the rounds in the first half and then not being able to pull out the victory when he came on strong in the second half.
In Loma’s last bout against Jamaine Ortiz last October, we saw the same slow start from him, as he appeared to give away five of the first six rounds. Fortunately for Lomachenko, he was able to rally in the second half after Ortiz faded.
If Lomachenko starts slowly against Haney, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to pull out the win because Devin doesn’t have stamina problems like Jamaine and Teofimo.
Will Haney’s youth play a part against Loma?
“I got Haney by decision. I don’t think he has the power to really hurt or stop Lomachenko. Lomachenko is savvy enough to survive him if he doesn’t get clipped with anything,” said Chris Algieri to ProBox TV.
“I think the timing, the size, and the youth is right for Haney to do what he’s been doing. He has a lot of momentum in this sport, and that matters. Lomachenko, although he has a big chip on his shoulders, has a lot to prove and has been there time and time again.
“I think it’s going back to the well one time too many times for someone that is really primed to take over and finally get the deserved title and undisputed. I got Haney by decision,” said Algieri.
“I got Lomachenko by decision. Lomachenko’s ability to get stoppages at lightweight is almost nonexistent,” said Paulie Malignaggi. “I know he scored some knockdowns against Luke Campbell, but I don’t see that in this fight.”
Lomachenko will come on strong late
“I do see Lomachenko taking control over the fight as the fight wears on. I believe he’s going to start a little faster than he did in the [Teofimo] Lopez fight,” said Malignaaggi. “Obviously, in the Lopez fight, there were a couple of reasons why he started slow. One was the shoulder injury, but obviously, Lopez has a lot of firepower, something that Haney doesn’t have.
“I believe both guys psychologically are ready for the fight. What I mean by that is Lomachenko has been in big moments in his career. Olympic gold medal finals and world championship fights in various weight classes.
“Haney also, for a young fighter, has gone to Australia and won the world title on the road. From personal experience, I know how tough that can be. So Haney was able to be very poised and do that.
“So, I think from a psychological perspective, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on both guys when the opening bell rings, I think both guys are mentally and psychologically ready for a moment like this in their careers.
Loma will start faster
“I do expect Lomachenko to start a little bit faster, but he’s got to be careful not to get ahead of himself because this is a moment that he’s wanted his whole career,” said Malignaggi. “So the temptation is to start faster than you need to, and for Haney, the same thing.
“The temptation is to show that you belong at this level, and guys that have criticized him that this is his biggest fight and he may not be ready for it. He also may want to get ahead of himself and start faster.
“While I do think those temptations will be there, I think both guys psychologically are mature enough and poised enough to where they’ll settle into their respective game plans. I just expect Lomachenko to start a little bit faster in this fight,” said Malignaggi.
“He’s going to need to start faster because his last couple of fights, [against Jamaine] Ortiz as well, against [Teofimo] Lopez and Ortiz, he started slow and finished very strong in both fights and really pulled the Ortiz fight out of the fire and Lopez was this close,” said Algieri about Lomachenko. If Lopez didn’t put on a brilliant twelfth round, he probably would have won that fight,” said Algieri.
Haney can’t afford to empty his tank
“If your Haney, that’s something to keep in mind. Do you save something in the gas tank for Lomachenko’s final run in the late rounds?” said Malignaggi.
“Do you mentally think about that if you’re Haney? ‘I got to make sure I get off to a good start. I got to make sure I have enough in the tank to hold off this guy’s late run that he tends to make.’ Is it something on the part of Haney that you think about going into the fight?” said Malignaggi.
“Yeah, absolutely, because both men have shown great gas tanks going into 12 round fights,” said Algieri. “Haney has the ability to control pace because he has a jab. A jab can be a pace-setting device, and Haney does that quite well.
“You don’t want to start too slow, even though Lomachenko is fighting slow, because then you can steal rounds with one or two punches, and Lomachenko is good at that. He can steal some of those rounds if Haney is not getting enough done.
“Haney needs to bank those early rounds, but not expel the gas tank because you know Lomachenko is coming on strong in the end. Lomachenko, I think, is going to fall to an early lead on Haney’s side, and then he’s going to have to battle back, and then he’s probably going to try and stop Haney to get the victory.
“I think Haney is going to come out to an early lead based on the way that Lomachenko has been fighting recently, and listen, Haney has been shown to be vulnerable to some shots.
Lomachenko will negate Haney’s holding
“We’ve never seen anyone put a focused body attack on Haney like Lomachenko has in his toolbox. I think down the line, I think this fight is going to get very interesting,” said Algieri.
“What do you think about the fact that Haney is complaining about Lomachenko’s dirty tactics? Is it gamesmanship?” said Malignaggi. “Think about it. Haney wants to be able to hold on the inside.
“Lomachenko isn’t going to really allow that. So he’s going to look to be a little physical in order to prevent that. Is it that Haney is looking for ways to where he’ll be able to get away with that holding on the inside so that he can keep the fight at a medium to long-range pace to where he might have the advantage,” said Malignaggi.