Shawn Porter believes that Vasyl Lomachenko’s decorated career has “caught up” with him and will undermine him against Devin Haney – even though Haney is having to go to “extremes” to make weight.
Haney defends his undisputed lightweight title against Lomachenko on Saturday at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, in what could yet prove his last fight at 135lbs.
In the 35-year-old Lomachenko he is confronting his greatest test as a professional, and fighting not only a motivated challenger but one of the finest fighters of all time.
Lomachenko’s age and size disadvantage have contributed to Haney, 24, being widely considered the favourite on Saturday – a fight between perhaps a natural super featherweight and another destined for 140lbs.
That Lomachenko has long fought at the highest level as both an amateur and professional has contributed to suggestions that he is in decline. By repeatedly fighting above his natural weight division he has also risked increased punishment, and Porter – also 35 but who retired 18 months ago – senses that that time may even already have come.
“When you get to the Xs and Os of it, you just talk about the pure boxing within Haney-Lomachenko – that’s going to be an amazing fight,” he told ProBox TV. “[But] I’m a firm believer that this sport has caught up to Lomachenko.
“I think a lot of people are overlooking Lomachenko. Just in the same breath that I said this sport’s caught up to him – his talent’s not over-exceeding anyone he’s getting in the ring with anymore – but we’ve seen him at his best against guys who weren’t as good as him. Is it possible that we see him at his best against someone who’s just as good as him?
“The fight with Teofimo Lopez [in 2020] – it’s no secret that their game plan backfired on him. If he had a second chance he may have done it a little differently. They gave Teofimo too much respect for his power. There’s certain things they expect to do against Haney, and they’ll be able to do ‘em. [But] I don’t think this is a cakewalk for either fighter.”
Lomachenko’s narrow and unexpected defeat by Teofimo Lopez – he had until then been considered the world’s finest active fighter – may yet even provide the blueprint for how Haney fights him.
Haney’s game plan and performance will regardless be influenced by how he makes weight. By working with a nutritionist for eight weeks instead of four he is on course to reach the scales in a healthier and more hydrated condition than he did for his rematch with George Kambosos Jnr, but if he struggles – and if Lomachenko, as against Lopez, again starts slowly and seeks to finish strong – his strength and stamina will be tested even as the considerably bigger man.
“Let’s not beat around the bush – eventually Haney will be at 140lbs,” Porter continued. “Eventually as in another year – if not shorter than that. He’s undisputed at 135lbs; it’s hard to let that go to move on, and obviously you don’t want to let that go until you’re able to make certain fights, and get certain money revenue at 140lbs. Right now it’s at 135lbs.