American lightweight boxing champion Devin Haney defeated Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko in a unanimous 12-round decision on May 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Haney remains undefeated after a very close fight, which many spectators and commentators felt should have gone to the Ukrainian.

Lomachenko, a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2008 and 2012), had been featherweight and then lightweight champion from 2014 until 2020, when he lost the title by decision to American Teofimo Lopez.

Shortly before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Lomachenko was in Greece, training to fight Australian George Kombosos in a bid to regain the lightweight championship. He abruptly pulled out of the fight to return to Ukraine and join the territorial defense battalion of his hometown of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky, on the Black Sea, south of Odesa.


Once Odesa Oblast appeared safe from invasion, Lomachenko returned to his home in Southern California to train.

Coming into the fight with Haney, Lomachenko was on a three-fight win streak. Facing an age difference of 11 years between him and the younger American, many questioned whether the 35-year-old former champion would exhibit his trademark speed and stamina. The Ukrainian managed to hold his own and hurt Haney in the 11th round, but ultimately the longer, bigger Haney outpointed Loma, as he is known throughout the world.

Lomachenko has been a controversial figure in Ukraine both before the full-scale invasion and since, because of his apparently ambiguous stance regarding Russia. In particular, the Ukrainian boxer has long been a staunch supporter of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP).

When the Ukrainian government increased pressure on pro-Russian collaborators among the UOC-MP, Lomachenko posted videos and comments on his Instagram channel in defense of UOC-MP Metropolitan Longin.

Lomachenko wrote under a video clip of the Metropolitan’s sermon. “We have an opportunity to show how faithful we are to our Father in Heaven and the Mother of our Church, whether we are true Orthodox and whether we truly believe in God at all and how committed we are to Him! As they say that friends are known in trouble, today the true Orthodox will show themselves in the most difficult moment for our Church. We are given a great opportunity today to prove whether we are worthy of eternal life in the Kingdom of God! Peace be with you all!”


In a reaction to Lomachenko’s post, the chief of staff of the Azov Regiment, Bohdan “Tavr” Krotevych reacted with a post on Twitter proposing to make Lomachenko a new “Medvedchuk,” for whom “we can free a lot of our guys from captivity.” Oligarch and Putin-friend Viktor Medvedchuk had been arrested by the Ukraine’s Security Services and exchanged for 215 Ukrainian prisoners in September 2022.

In the ring Lomachenko wore black trunks with a Ukrainian flag on the left hip and an Orthodox symbol of Christ the Conqueror on the right side.

After the judges’ decision was announced, Lomachenko was interviewed in the ring, draped by a Ukrainian flag. He avoided commenting on the judges’ scorecards, which he clearly thought was wrong. “All the people saw what happened today.”


He merely thanked Jesus Christ and his team, then added: “I want to go home, support my Ukraine and support my Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

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