Undisputed lightweight gold is up for grabs on Saturday evening at the iconic MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, as Devin Haney defends his WBC, WBA ‘super’, IBF and WBO crowns against the gifted Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank promote Haney vs Lomachenko, with ESPN+ pay-per-view broadcasting the bout in the USA, while Sky Sports carry the UK rights.
Haney (29-0, 15 KOs), who has said in the build-up that he wants to send his rival into retirement, has improved with every passing contest, and at just 24-years-old, is very much the future of the sport.
‘The Dream’ was upgraded from interim to full WBC world champion in 2019, and made four defences before going to Australia to challenge the then-unified champion George Kambosos Jr for the remaining three main belts.
Kambosos Jr was no match for Haney in Melbourne, as the American outclassed the three-belt champion to take a clear points win.
The Aussie had a rematch clause, and October last year saw an even wider points win for Haney, as he moved on to bigger things in the division.
They don’t come much bigger than Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs), but the Ukrainian is now 35-years-old, and needs to get back to his brilliant best.
The double Olympic champion was world champion at featherweight in just his third contest, and he also reigned at super featherweight and lightweight, turning in some dazzling displays along the way.
His world came crashing down though in October 2020, when he lost his gold in a stunning points loss to Teofimo Lopez.
The southpaw, who declined a shot at the aforementioned Kambosos Jr in a bid to defend his country agains the invasion of Russia, has rebuilt with three wins against lower-key opposition, the last a points win last October against Jamaine Ortiz.
Prediction: This is a really intriguing clash, and it could well be a changing of the guard. Lomachenko will need a fast start, but I can see him being frustrated by the younger man, and I lean towards Haney to take a clear enough points win.
Moloney-Nakatani vie to become world champion
On the undercard, Andrew Moloney aims to join his brother Jason as world champion, but I favour Japan’s Junto Nakatani (24-0, 18 KOs) to become a two-weight world champion, and he can take the vacant WBO super flyweight title on the scorecards.
Moloney (25-2, 16 KOs) has fallen short in two previous attempts to become world champion in a defeat and no contest to Joshua Franco.
Valdez rematches Lopez
Oscar Valdez is on the rebuild after being routed on the cards by Shakur Stevenson last April, and he can stop Adam Lopez (16-4, 6 KOs) in a rematch of their 2019 meeting, which Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) had to get off the deck in round two before halting the American in seven.
This one is set for ten at super featherweight.
The other ten rounder is at lightweight, where touted prospect Raymond Muratalla (17-0, 14 KOs) can extend his unbeaten run with a points win against Jeremiah Nakathila.
Nakathila (23-2, 19 KOs) has been the distance with Shakur Stevenson, and beat Miguel Berchelt in his last outing.
In eight round action, Nico Ali Walsh (8-0, 5 KOs) can outpoint Danny Rosenberger (13-9-4, 4 KOs) at middleweight, and Floyd Diaz (8-0, 3 KOs) can become the first man to stop Luis Fernando Saavedra (9-8, 3 KOs) in their super bantamweight meeting.
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In six rounders, lightweight prospect Abdullah Mason (7-0, 6 KOs) can stop Desmond Lyons (8-2, 2 KOs), and Amari Jones (8-0, 7 KOs) can do the same in his middleweight clash against Pachino Hill (8-2-1, 6 KOs).
The only four rounder is at lightweight, where Emiliano Vargas (4-0, 3 KOs) can defeat Rafael Jasso (3-0, 1 KO) on the cards.