Should Lomachenko stay at 130-pounds?
By Hector Franco
December 1, 2016
Last Saturday the boxing world saw Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) defeat Nicholas Walters (26-1-1, 21 KOs) handing him his first professional loss. Lomachenko was able to befuddle Walters the whole night and put on enough punishment for the Jamaican to call it quits after seven rounds. Many are now calling Lomachenko one of the best fighters in the world pound-for-pound. HBO’s Max Kellerman even went as far as to say that if it wasn’t for Lomachenko’s lack of resume due to him only having eight professional fights, he would rank him as the No.1 fighter in the world.
The concept of pound-for-pound was created for the man that many believe to be the greatest fighter of all time in Sugar Ray Robinson (173-19-6, 108 KOs). In a sense the term pound-for-pound is meant to give fighters below the heavyweight division more shine. It also excludes heavyweights from most lists. Pound-for-pound lists are more about conversations than reality. Lomachenko will never fight Andre Ward or Roman Gonzalez. While many will debate as to who is the best fighter in the world, the debate over who is the best fighter at 130-pounds is much more clear. Lomachenko’s two performances this year against Roman Martinez (29-3-3, 17 KOs) and Nicholas Walters have made him the No.1 fighter in the division.
Despite his status in the division there are still many fights that can be made for the Ukrainian at 130-pounds. This is an era where fighters rarely unify title belts let alone become the undisputed champion. It would be more impressive for Lomachenko to clean out 130-pounds than to quickly leave and move up to the lightweight division.
With less than ten fights as a professional Lomachenko needs to create a legacy in a certain weight class. What better weight class than the one where fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao plied their trade?
In his post fight interview after the Walters fight, Lomachenko brought up the name of WBC 130-pound champion, Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs). Vargas last fought in June against Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs). The fight is likely to win fight of the year honors for 2016. Salido defeated Lomachenko in his second professional fight via decision. The fight was somewhat controversial due to Salido’s weight and his penchant to go low with his body shots. A fight with either Mexican fighter would have the two-time Olympic gold medalist as the favorite. But both fights would be exciting as both men always deliver in excitement.
Fights with Salido and Vargas would be relatively easy to make especially the rematch with Salido. If Lomachenko’s promoter, Bob Arum was serious about making fights with Al Haymon there are plenty of options available. In January, IBF 130-pound champion Jose Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs) of Cidra, Puerto Rico will defend his title against prospect Gervonta Davis (16-0, 15 KOs). Pedraza if victorious would be the most technical boxer that Lomachenko has faced up to this point. Jezreel Corrales (20-1, 8 KOs) and Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) both hold versions of the WBA 130-pound title. Either fighter would be acceptable as an opponent.
The final few fighters available for Lomachenko are the Japanese duo of Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20 KOs) and Takashi Miura (30-3-2, 23 KOs). Just like Salido and Vargas both men would provide exciting fights as the underdogs. Even a dark horse opponent like Tevin Farmer (23-4-1, 5 KOs) would be an interesting fight. Farmer has been steadily improving with each fight. He will have fought four times in 2016 after his fight with Dardan Zenunaj (12-2, 9 KOs) for the NABF 130-pound title on Saturday night.
A move up in weight for Lomachenko wouldn’t be a bad move. Fighters like Jorge Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) and Mikey Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) await him at lightweight. Instead of fantasy fights with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford, Lomachenko has a chance to create a foundation for his legacy at 130-pounds. If he stays at 130-pounds there are plenty of options available.
(Featured Photo: AP Photo/John Locher)