Roy Jones Jr believes that in the event of victory over Vasyl Lomachenko, Devin Haney will have proven himself the world’s second best fighter, pound-for-pound.
Haney, the undisputed lightweight champion, defends his titles against the great Lomachenko in the toughest fight of his career on Saturday night at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.
Those expecting him to prevail do so because, at 24, he is 11 years younger than his decorated Ukrainian opponent, and also because of the significant size advantage he holds over him.
The great Jones Jr, considered the world’s finest fighter for even longer than was Lomachenko, once spent time with Haney and his father, trainer and manager Bill to share with them some of his methods, and was ultimately impressed. The lightweight, regardless, has been vocal about his frustrations about a perceived lack of respect – including when being excluded from pound-for-pound lists compiled by, among others, The Ring.
“He’s the favourite because of his youth and size, and because we saw what [Teofimo] Lopez was able to do to Loma,” Jones Jr told ProBox TV. “It’s not as easy a fight as people think it is. A lot of people are writing Loma off as older and ‘cause of the size difference – Devin’s so much bigger than him – but that’s still a very challenging fight, because if you don’t get Loma in check early, Loma gonna be a problem.
“A motivated fighter is a hard fighter. He’s motivated ‘cause he don’t feel like he lost the fight to Lopez; then Lopez didn’t give him a rematch; he went and fought [George Kambosos Jr].
“If Devin going to get in there and beat Loma, he should be at least number two pound-for-pound. At least number two. ‘Cause that’s a big move. There’s no boxer that’s got all the tools to me, besides [Terence] Crawford, and one or two others – Canelo [Saul Alvarez] – that got the skill that Loma has. If he can go out there and dominate Loma, he’s definitely number two pound-for-pound.”
Asked if Lomachenko retained the ability to prove wrong those who consider him to have declined, Jones Jr then responded: “Yes, he can roll back the clock but he don’t have explosive power. It’s harder in the higher weight class. I was able to become heavyweight champion of the world because I possessed explosive power.
“If you don’t have explosive power, it’s very hard to move up the weight classes. If you’re fighting a weight class or two above where you should really be, you can’t match these guys who are bigger than you ‘cause you don’t have explosive power.
“It’ll be punching power and size [that should win the fight for Haney]. He has to win the punching-power contest and he has to win the size advantage. He don’t win those two things, it’ll be a different fight.
“He impressed me a lot [when I worked with him]. He has more skills [than he’s shown]. He learned a lot from me; his dad still remembers everything I taught him. He took what I taught and kept it and has utilised it to the best of his ability tells me he’s definitely not as far behind in the skills game as he would be had he not met me. If he can win the size battle and the power battle, he has enough size to equalise that too, so that’s why I know he can win the fight.”