Who will be Vasyl Lomachenko's biggest challenge?

Who will be Vasyl Lomachenko's biggest challenge?

April 10, 2017


Vasyl Lomachenko stopped Jason Sosa after nine rounds to retain his WBO 130-pound championship. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO Sports

Vasyl Lomachenko stopped Jason Sosa after nine rounds to retain his WBO 130-pound championship. Photo: Ed Mulholland/HBO Sports

This past Saturday in Oxon Hill, Maryland at the newly built MGM National Harbor arena Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) successfully defended his WBO 130-pound championship against New Jersey’s Jason Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs). The fight was stopped after nine rounds when Sosa's corner decided he had taken enough punishment. The two-time Olympic Gold-Medalist put on a performance for fans to fawn over on YouTube for the next few years. 

With less than ten professional bouts under his belt, Lomachenko is already thought of as one of the best fighters in the world. Fans are now left wondering as to who will test Lomachenko next. The one loss on Lomachenko’s record was against longtime veteran Orlando Salido (43-13-4, 30 KOs) in 2014. It’s been three years since the two met in the ring and with Salido having fought in more wars with Terdsak Kokietgym (62-5-1, 41 KOs), Roman Martinez (29-3-3, 17 KOs), and most recently Francisco Vargas (23-1-2, 17 KOs) he may not be the same fighter he was when they first met. Also, Lomachenko seemed to be on his way of stopping Salido in their first bout and has vastly improved in getting used to fighting as a professional. In fact, Lomachenko’s manager Egis Klimas doesn’t see the point in having a rematch. 

Orlando Salido won a split decision victory over Vasyl Lomachenko in March 2014. Photo: Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Salido won a split decision victory over Vasyl Lomachenko in March 2014. Photo: Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

“Right now, Lomachenko is already in university and Salido is still there. Probably he already went down from 12th grade. I don’t think it’s interesting anymore – that fight. But just to erase his loss, we might be able to do it. We will have to sit down and consider in the camp, do we want that fight? What good will that fight do for us?” – Egis Klimas

There are still some fights available for Lomachenko at 130-pounds, but if the goal for Lomachenko is to win three titles in three different weight classes at ten professional fights a move to the lightweight division awaits. 

This past weekend WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs) won a unanimous decision over Petr Petrov (38-5-2, 19 KOs) in Manchester, England. Flanagan would be a real test for Lomachenko for his first fight in the lightweight division. The UK fighter is a technically skilled fighter with a good jab that could test Lomachenko’s ability to deal with a boxer who uses lateral movement.  The plan according to Lomachenko’s manager Egis Klimas is to face Flanagan next. 

“There are not 130-pound champions that will fight him. The answer already has been, ‘No, no, no.’ So probably I would like for him to step into the 135 division. If we can go to fight in England – Flanagan won against Petrov – and if we can, we’ll get that fight. If he will win that fight in England, then I would prefer for him to then defend his title once here in the U.S. to build a fight with Mikey Garcia.” – Egis Klimas

Although Flanagan would be a decent name to add to Lomachenko’s ledger the two fighters in the lightweight division that could challenge him and bring him the most notoriety with victories are WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight champion Jorge Linares (42-3, 27 KOs) and WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs). In March, Linares went to the UK and handily defeated Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KOs) by unanimous decision in one of the best performances of his career. The Tokyo-based Venezuelan has only been stopped due to getting caught early or cuts in his three losses, the challenge for Lomachenko would be to defeat someone that can rival him in hand speed. 

A fight with Garcia is the one fans are looking forward to the most with Lomachenko. Garcia is undefeated with an 83 percent knockout ratio and is one of the most technically sound fighters in all of boxing. Lomachenko’s ascent up the boxing world came at the same time Garcia was taking a hiatus from the sport due to promotional issues with Lomachenko’s current promoter, Top Rank. 

Garcia was willing to wait two and a half years to get out of his contract with Top Rank. This past January, Garcia showed that the layoff didn’t affect his ability inside the ring as he brutally stopped Dejan Zlaticanin (22-1, 15 KOs) in the third round to win the WBC lightweight championship. The relationship between Top Rank and Garcia could potentially halt a fight with Lomachenko. 

Dejan Zlaticanin after being knocked out cold by Mikey Garcia. Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Dejan Zlaticanin after being knocked out cold by Mikey Garcia. Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Garcia is a three-division champion who holds a dominant victory over Lomachenko’s conqueror Orlando Salido. This added factor is another reason why a potential match up between the two is so intriguing. Garcia is Lomachenko’s toughest challenge that is the most realistic. 

Other champions have been talked about for Lomachenko such as 140-pound kingpin Terence Crawford (30-0, 21 KOs) and eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs). Both men would be significant challenges for the Ukranian and are on the same promotional stable in Top Rank. Crawford and Pacquiao both fight in higher weight classes and Lomachenko who moved up from the featherweight division not because he couldn’t make the weight but to find fighters to step in the ring with him is not a big 130-pounder. The lightweight division may be as high a weight class, Lomachenko can fight in as a professional. 

Unlike most of the fighters in this era, Lomachenko is out for more than just a paycheck. Legacy is just as important as what he makes in each fight. Whether it be Salido, Flanagan, Linares, or Garcia next, Lomachenko will be in constant search of his next biggest challenge. 


(Feature Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Three reasons Lomachenko should stay at 130-pounds

Three reasons Lomachenko should stay at 130-pounds

Vasyl Lomachenko dominates Jason Sosa putting on a masterclass performance

Vasyl Lomachenko dominates Jason Sosa putting on a masterclass performance