By Sean Crose
When the bell rang ending Saturday’s fight for the undisputed lightweight title between Vasyl Lomachenko and defending champion Devin Haney, I felt uneasy. Oh, the combat itself was amazing, a truly unyielding rivalry between two walking, talking skill machines operating at the top of their respective games. What bothered me was that Loma won the fight by two rounds on my private and completely unofficial scorecard. The truth, as I admitted to myself, was that the fight could go either way (these things matter when you have enough fans to score fights yourself). If I had the slightest bit of biased my opinion on one or two of these rounds, Haney would have clearly emerged as the winner on my completely insignificant scorecard.
Of course, the judges Saturday night in Las Vegas – those whose opinions mattered – disagreed with me. Two of the three judges ruled sensibly while one seemed to watch the other fight entirely. Still, the public seems to be furious with the outcome of this past weekend – or at least a good part of it. I find this feeling completely understandable. Had it been a fistfight, the outcome would have been obvious: Loma defeated Haney. Sure, Loma had bruises on his face, but he injected Haney with so many simple injections all night that Haney probably saw them in his sleep later that night.
The truth, however, is that boxing is not a fight. Not when all is said and done. Boxing happens to be a sport, an extremely violent sport that resembles and has many characteristics of the parking lot brawl you might see on a late Friday or Saturday night. After all, this is an athletics competition that is judged in rounds. And the reality is that Haney, the guy we often saw getting hit by Loma last weekend, won multiple rounds. Ultimately, in this sport, a probing jab can count as much as a left hook. It all comes down to who scores more points in the predicted three-minute action chapters.
Annoying? you bet. But it demonstrates the principles as they are. And if there is a better way to score, one where the player who actually beats the other player gets a guaranteed win, I’m all for it. But there’s something else to keep in mind as we sift through the rubble of Saturday night’s controversy: Loma allowed Haney to win all the important twelfth and final rounds. He said so himself. “I can give him that round,” he admitted after the fight. Given that the match could have had a different ending had it been more aggressive in the final chapter, Loma is in some ways largely to blame for Saturday night’s outcome.