The sport of Boxing in recent years has made significant progress on both the male and female ends of the sport where there has been a consistent effort to unify world titles in various weight classes with the goal of determining a single undisputed world champion per weight class. While it is a goal that this observer has said in the past is something for a variety of reasons is difficult to accomplish, a sign of that progress that has been made will be on full display on Saturday May 20th where two important undisputed world championship fights will take place in both Women's Boxing as well as Men's Boxing, which could have a significant impact on the sport moving forward.
The first fight scheduled for May 20 for an undisputed world championship was to have been a highly anticipated rematch of 2022's Fight of the Year for the Women's Undisputed Lightweight championship of the world between undefeated world champion Katie Taylor and current Featherweight world champion Amanda Serrano. When Serrano withdrew from the rematch due to an injury earlier this year, Taylor, wanting to keep the scheduled date in her home country of Ireland, opted to take a risk by moving up five pounds from the 135lb. Lightweight division to the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division to challenge undefeated Undisputed Jr. Welterweight world champion Chantelle Cameron in an attempt to accomplish a rarity in Boxing, to become a two-division undisputed world champion.
The fight, which will take place at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland and will be broadcast globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, brings together something else that is rare. Two unbeaten fighters, each an undisputed champion in their respective weight classes choosing to face each other. Something that for a variety of reasons we do not see in the sport. While Taylor will come in with more experience having a record of 23-0, with 6 Knockouts, this is essentially an even fight as Cameron, who will enter with a record of 17-0, 8 Knockouts, much like Taylor is a compact boxer/puncher that throws in volume and looks to pile up points on scorecards.
Although this observer stands by his assessment that this bout at least in comparison of styles is even and could be a toss up, Taylor does have more experience and will likely be looking to use that to her advantage in this fight in front of what is likely to be a significant hometown crowd. The question however, might come down to how Taylor looks at the heavier weight, whether her hands are as quick and reaction time is there at the heavier weight as it has been at Lightweight. It is important to keep in mind that rounds in Women's Boxing are two minutes in duration, which could prove to be a very difficult task for the three judges scoring a fight when you are trying to decide who is getting the upper hand in a fight between two fighters with similar styles, which means this fight could end up in a close decision if it does go the distance.
In a strange way, the cancellation of the rematch with Serrano for Taylor has led to an unofficial four fighter box off as in addition to Taylor's challenge of Cameron, it was recently announced that Serrano will defend her Featherweight world championship in a rematch with former world champion Heather Hardy in August on the undercard of the Jake Paul-Nate Diaz bout in Dallas, TX. While there is nothing official at least as of this writing, if the circumstances end up where the winners of these two fights do end up facing each other later in the year or in 2024, it will obviously keep interest high and Women's Boxing will continue to benefit from that increased interest as the sport for women continues to grow overall.
The second undisputed world championship fight on May 20 will see undefeated Undisputed Lightweight champion of the world Devin Haney defend his crown for the second time at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV against former three-division world champion Vasyl Lomachenko. A fight that can be seen here in the United States on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View, is not only one of the most anticipated fights of 2023, but may be viewed as a superstar in the making in Haney facing one of the , most dominant fighters of the last decade in Lomachenko, who has acknowledged that this could be his last chance to win am undisputed world championship.
Many will recall that Lomachenko previously came up short in his unification bout against then undefeated IBF world champion Teofimo Lopez in the fight that fully unified the Lightweight division in October 2020. Although that is the only loss Lomachenko has had since his second pro bout nearly a decade ago in 2014, the Undisputed Lightweight championship has changed hands twice since that fight, first from Lopez to George Kambosos and then from Kambosos to Haney, who is coming off of his second consecutive twelve round unanimous decision victory over Kambosos.
While Haney has for the moment put a stop to the hot potato passing of the Undisputed Lightweight championship of the world, he has also acknowledged that his time in the 135lb. Lightweight division may be near an end as he is likely to move up to the Jr. Welterweight division sooner than later. What this creates is a scenario where if Haney does retain the title in this fight and decides to move up, the undisputed championship in the Lightweight division will be broken up as all the world championships that make up the undisputed crown would obviously be vacated.
How likely is Haney to retain his crown against Lomachenko is a question that can be quite complicated depending on one's perspective. At his best, Vasyl Lomachenko is a fighter with impeccable foot work, hand speed, deceptive punching power, and has the ability to use angles, which with the lone exception of the fight with Teofimo Lopez, has proven to be a difficult puzzle for opponents to solve. The possibility of Lomachenko simply having a bad night against Lopez, who outworked him over twelve rounds is certainly possible.
Much like Lopez however, Devin Haney is a younger fighter than Lomachenko and some might argue is a more complete fighter than Lopez, who is primarily known for his punching power. The key to this fight in my eyes will be whether or not Lomachenko will be able to establish the tempo of the fight early. This may prove to be more difficult than against previous opponents because of Devin Haney's hand speed, so it will be crucial that Lomachenko use his legs and look to set angles.
To date, the only fighter who has really been able to hurt the champion was former world champion Jorge Linares, who badly staggered Haney in the later rounds of their fight in May 2021. Perhaps a method of attack for Lomachenko might be to use his footwork to bait Haney into making a mistake by missing with his punches and looking to catch him in the midst of those punches as they are being thrown. A method otherwise known as catching an opponent between punches, which is very difficult to defend against simply because the opponent is in the midst of throwing and thus is theoretically not thinking about defense in the process. This in turn makes a tactic like that a vital asset for counter punchers who have the timing, lateral movement, and accuracy to be able to pull it off. Lomachenko must be consistent in this fight from start to finish if he wants to have success here. Despite his only having two losses as a professional and three overall as a fighter going back to his illustrious amateur career where he had three hundred ninety-five wins against a single loss, this is one of the rare occasions that Lomachenko is being viewed by some as an underdog.
While that might give an impression that Haney could dominate this bout, the champion must not approach this with a complacent mindset and should view Lomachenko as the dangerous tactician he has proven to be throughout his career. If for whatever reason Haney might be looking beyond this fight, perhaps with an eye towards moving up in weight, it could backfire on him if Lomachenko is prepared.
No matter who emerges victorious in these two undisputed world championship fights there are at least a few things that most Boxing fans and experts alike can probably universally agree on. The goal to determine an undisputed world champion in each individual weight class for both the men's and women's sides of the sport remains at best a work in progress, but it is a goal that at least with each passing day seems more reachable, especially when the fighters themselves are starting to express their desire to achieve that goal, which in theory should put the pressure needed for those on the business side of Boxing to make the goal of being undisputed more attainable, which will ultimately benefit the sport. What can also be agreed on is these two particular fights are two of the best on the 2023 schedule to date.
After some recent mishaps and controversies in the sport particularly with some fights that were treated as major events, perhaps what can also be in universal agreement is Boxing is due for a day where it is the topic of discussion for all the right reasons. Hopefully, May 20, 2023, a day of Undisputed in the sport will be that day.
"And That's The Boxing Truth."
Cameron vs. Taylor takes place on Saturday, May 20th at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. The fight as well as it's full undercard can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 12PM ET/9AM PT with Before The Bell featuring preliminary bouts followed by the main card beginning at 2PM ET/11AM PT. (U.S. Times Only)
For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit: www.DAZN.com.
Haney vs. Lomachenko takes place on Saturday, May 20th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The fight as well as it's full undercard can be seen in the United States on ESPN+ Pay-Per-View beginning at 6PM ET/3PM PT with a portion of free preliminary bouts followed by the pay-per-view card beginning at 10PM ET/7PM PT for $59.99. ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices, and Smart TV's. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, to subscribe, and order Haney vs. Lomachenko please visit: www.ESPNPlus.com/PPV. (U.S. Times Only) *Check your local start times internationally.*
(* Cards and start times subscribe to change.)
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