Saturday, April 13, 2019

Lomachenko Continues To Make His Claim As The Best Lightweight In The World

It would be hard to for one to dispute that unified WBO/WBA Lightweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko hasn’t been one of the fastest rising stars in the sport of Boxing since his professional debut in October 2013. This of course, is understandable when talking about a fighter who is regarded as one of, if not the best amateur boxers of all-time. Prior to his first professional bout, Lomachenko registered an incredible amateur record of 396-1 finishing his amateur career by winning Olympic gold for the second consecutive time at the 2012 Olympics in London, England after previously winning gold in 2008.

From his second professional fight in March 2014 on Lomachenko has competed exclusively in world championship fights with the lone defeat on his pro record coming in that first world championship fight in losing a decision to former world champion Orlando Salido. Although it is tempting to discuss Lomachenko’s rise in greater detail and also note that his quick rise to professional world champion in only three professional fights, what is also remarkable is he has won three world championships in three separate weight classes, becoming the fastest to accomplish that feat in just twelve professional fights when he stopped WBA Lightweight world champion Jorge Linares in February of last year after previously winning world titles in the Featherweight and Jr. Lightweight divisions.

After defeating WBO Lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza to become a unified world champion in December of last year, Lomachenko was sidelined with an injured right shoulder, which required surgery. Despite wanting to continue to unify the Lightweight division by setting his sights on a unification bout against IBF world champion Richard Commey, the potential fight did not take place as Commey had suffered an injury to his right hand in his last fight in February of this year.

Rather than sitting out for what would be a more lucrative fight, Lomachenko instead chose to fulfill his obligation by facing his mandatory challenger and former WBA Lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla on Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Although Crolla, who reigned as a world champion in the Lightweight division from 2015-2016 entered the fight as a significant underdog, the former world champion entered with a respectable record of 34-6-3, with 13 Knockouts and had won his previous three fights prior to challenging Lomachenko.

What has bedeviled several of Lomachenko’s previous opponents is his ability to use angles to throw and land combinations. Despite being a heavy favorite over the challenger, I felt Crolla may have been able to provide the champion with a test. After all, despite losing his championship to Jorge Linares in September 2016 and failing to avenge that loss in a rematch in March 2017, Crolla is still one of the best Lightweights in the world and was not someone to take lightly.

Despite winning thirty-four of forty-three previous bouts, Crolla was simply no match for the fighter affectionately referred to by Boxing fans as “Loma.” Lomachenko consistently pressed the action and frankly dominated the former world champion before a devastating right hook that appeared to land on the temple sent Crolla down and out at :58 of the fourth round. While some fans might be critical of Crolla for not being able to provide much resistance for Lomachenko despite being the top contender in the WBA’s Lightweight ratings, it is important to remember that before this fight Crolla had only been stopped once in his career and that stoppage came in his bout against Derry Mathews in a bout for the British Lightweight championship in April 2012.

Sometimes a fight can be summed up by saying one fighter was superior to the other. In this observer’s eyes, this was one of those fights. Vasyl Lomachenko has established himself as an elite level fighter, who could well be at the top of some fans and observers’ respective pound for pound lists. Anthony Crolla is a world class fighter and former world champion who simply come up against a superior fighter who is highly skilled.

Even though there wasn’t much to talk about regarding this fight, what might be interesting is what may be ahead for Lomachenko coming off of this victory.  Obviously, when a fighter scores a knockout as Lomachenko did in this fight it will generate both buzz and interest in what might be next.  With his WBA mandatory obligation out of the way for the time being, yours truly would like to see Lomachenko face Richard Commey next in a bout to further unify the Lightweight division.

Perhaps the biggest fight that can be made currently in the division could be an encounter between Lomachenko and current WBC world champion Mikey Garcia. Garcia as most Boxing fans know recently lost his undefeated record in a failed attempt to win the IBF Welterweight world championship in losing a twelve round unanimous decision to undefeated world champion Errol Spence last month at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX. It is unclear as of this writing as to whether or not Garcia, who moved up two weight classes to challenge Spence will return to the 135lb Lightweight division.

In terms of the current landscape of the Lightweight division, with the world championship of the International Boxing Organization (IBO) currently vacant, it leaves Lomachenko, the World Boxing Association (WBA)/World Boxing Organization (WBO) world champion, Richard Commey the International Boxing Federation (IBF) world champion, and Mikey Garcia the World Boxing Council (WBC) world champion atop of the division. While an obvious obstacle that exists, which may prevent full unification of the division from taking place in rival promoters not being keen on working together to make significant fights like unification bouts a reality, if there is enough demand from the public it will lead to fights taking place.

Whether or not the Boxing world might see Lomachenko against Commey or Garcia later in 2019 remains to be seen. Vasyl Lomachenko however, has provided Boxing fans and experts alike with not only a memorable performance in his victory over Anthony Crolla, but also a strong argument as being the best of the best that the Lightweight division has to offer. Of course, Richard Commey, Mikey Garcia, and/or a contenders and prospects who have yet to emerge as players in the division might have something to say to dispute Lomachenko’s claim as being the number one Lightweight in the world. In this observer’s eyes however, until that time comes Vasyl Lomachenko is the top fighter in the division.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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