There is little question that the first day’s build-up for Devin Haney-Vasyl Lomachenko was, in comparison to that for last month’s fight between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia in the same city of Las Vegas, relatively flat.
Davis, then an hour late to his grand arrival, presented that occasion with every chance not to deliver, but though both Haney and Lomachenko were on time, there simply wasn’t the same anticipation for not only the world’s leading lightweight – Davis is also a lightweight – but one of the finest fighters of all time, which no doubt is a reflection of the world in 2023.
Davis and Garcia have so far proved more marketable than Haney and Lomachenko. Davis also carried the notoriety of being due in court to be sentenced having pleaded guilty to a hit and run. By comparison the great Lomachenko speaks little English and has little desire to pretend to be anything other than the admirable professional he is, and Haney, though a fine fighter and as proficient as Davis and Garcia in the use of social media, lacks their perceived crossover appeal.
The compère’s attempts to convince those in attendance at the lobby of the MGM Grand and watching from afar that the “atmosphere is electric” were even less convincing than Haney’s attempts to make weight for his rematch, in October, with George Kambosos Jr. On that occasion he appeared at risk of running on empty on fight night, and though he won convincingly, like he had little future at 135lbs.
On Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, however, he will defend all four world lightweight titles and likely do so having looked far healthier on the scales the previous day. There remains sufficient time for him to struggle to cut the last few pounds for Friday’s weigh-in, but on Tuesday he looked healthy and hydrated, and as a consequence he was both happy and excited – a considerable contrast to the previous occasions ProBox TV has seen him mid-training camp.
That his most lucrative potential fights are likely against Davis and Shakur Stevenson might also yet convince him to remain at 135lbs in the event of victory over Lomachenko. The 24-year-old also betrayed the cause of some of his excitement when he spoke to the written press, and revealed that as a long-term resident of Vegas he had previously attended the grand arrivals for the fight, in 2015, between Andre Berto and Floyd Mayweather, who he has long modelled himself on (there are even occasions when Haney’s mannerisms are identical to those of Mayweather (he is regardless considerably more likeable, and by comparison even grounded)).
“It was crazy,” he said of that occasion, when he would have been a teenager. “It was like, amazing. It was crazy then. But now it’s even crazier. Like, not real – it’s surreal. It’s crazy that this is me now.”
Lomachenko, at 35 and understandably more occupied by the war in his home country of Ukraine than anything related to Mayweather, was in no way excited when he spoke to the same compere – potentially because he might even have previously heard his description of the MGM as a “legendary property” and was resisting treating him with suitable disdain.
“No more words, just, May 20th, Saturday night, that’s it,” he answered with confidence to one of the first questions the compere asked of the fighter he called, to his face, “Loma”. If the music could have been turned down when he spoke he might actually have been tempted to say more.