Vasyl Lomachenko's Three Finest Performances
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: May 11, 2018
This Saturday night at the world’s most famous arena Madison Square Garden fans will witness the return of two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Vasiliy Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs). The Ukrainian pugilist will be making his lightweight (135) debut against Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs). Linares will be the most accomplished fighter that Lomachenko has faced in his career thus far. The Venezuelan is a three-division world champion who has won titles in the featherweight (126), super featherweight (130) and lightweight divisions. The lightweight champion is a fighter that throws punches in combination with exceptional footwork.
Lomachenko will be facing a fighter that is not only bigger in size but also hits harder than anyone he has met as a professional. However, Lomachenko is not an ordinary fighter. At just 11 professional bouts, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist has won titles in two divisions with seven of his opponents being past or current world champions with a combined record of 352-30-13. With an outstanding amateur boxing record of 396-1, Lomachenko will continue his march toward history against Linares. If the Ukrainian is victorious in lifting the lightweight title from Linares, he will have set a boxing record for fewest amount of fights to win titles in three separate weight classes.
Lomachenko’s past performances have led many to rank him as high as the number one fighter in the sport pound-for-pound. The hype around the Ukrainian has made him as high as a 6.5 to 1 favorite over Linares. Let’s take a look back at some of the best performances of Lomachenko’s career to this point.
GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX (17-1, 11 KOs)
December 09, 2017
In what was supposed to be the most significant test of Lomachenko’s career became a disappointing one-sided master class for the Ukrainian. Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was anticipated by many as a chance to see two of the best technical fighters in the history of the sport share a ring. The odds favored Lomachenko as Rigondeaux moved up two weight classes to meet Lomachenko at 130-pounds. Rigondeaux also experienced large spells of inactivity throughout his career.
In the end, Rigondeaux suffered the same fate as Lomachenko’s previous three opponents. The Cuban called it quits after six one-sided rounds becoming the fourth opponent in a row that quit against the Ukrainian. Many super fights do not live up to the hype, and while Lomachenko-Rigondeaux was not a pay-per-view fight that garnered mainstream attention, it was still a fight that many boxing fans had been clamoring for over many years. On that night, Lomachenko proved to be on another level than Rigondeaux.
ROMAN MARTINEZ (29-3-3, 17 KOs)
June 11, 2016
After winning the WBO featherweight title and being unable to secure matches with any of the fellow titleholders in the division, Lomachenko and his team decided to make a move up to the 130-pound division. Lomachenko faced Puerto Rican veteran Roman Martinez who was coming off of a series of fights with the only man to score a win over the Olympian as a professional in Orlando Salido.
In front of a crowd full of Puerto Rican fans at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Lomachenko unleashed his full arsenal picking apart Martinez piece by piece. In the fifth round, Lomachenko landed a beautiful right hook that knocked out the Puerto Rican cold. While fans had seen Martinez lose before, Lomachenko’s performance made it clear that he was more than just a marketing ploy by promoter Top Rank and began to grow his acceleration to the top of the sport.
GARY RUSSELL JR. (28-1, 17 KOs)
June 21, 2014
The ability to bounce back from a loss can make the difference between a champion and a contender. Lomachenko and his team had a plan to win a world title as quickly as possible. In his second, professional bout Mexican veteran Orlando Salido defeated Lomachenko in a close fight that saw the Ukrainian on the way to winning a stoppage victory in the final round.
After the loss to Salido, Lomachenko wanted another shot at a world title and entered a purse bid to face Gary Russell Jr. for the vacant WBO featherweight title. Top Rank and Lomachenko took a risk in taking a bout with Russell who to this day arguably has the fastest hands in the sport. Many expected Russell who was undefeated in 24 fights to defeat Lomachenko. What happened in the ring took many by surprise.
Lomachenko showcased that he was able to not only rebound from a defeat but also adapt to his opponent’s style. Lomachenko used constant movement to circle and turn Russell while employing a vaunted body attack that garnered him with a clear majority decision.
If the fight with Russell tells us anything about Lomachenko is that win or lose against Linares, he will learn from his mistakes to return as a better fighter.
On Saturday night, the debate as to how good Lomachenko is will continue. With Lomachenko, winning is not enough. The measuring stick will be how Lomachenko wins. Against Linares, he will be tested, and the world will see if he passes or fails. One thing is for sure, Lomachenko is ready and tested enough for the challenge.
(Featured Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)