Buzz Is Strong For Russell Jr.-Lomachenko

The most buzzed about bout of the three scraps to be presented on Showtime’s slate for Saturday night is the Gary Russell Jr vs. Vasyl Lomachenko bout.

Loma will be the best and most well compensated 1-2 pro if he loses to to the fleet-fisted and much dissed in Twitterland Russell Jr., a hitter who has generated loads of frustration among fans who wonder why he and his management have been lacking aggressiveness when it comes to seizing the day. Bouts set against TBD and TBA, against journeymen and down on their luck elderly sorts, year after year has made Russell a minor laughingstock in some circles. That may or may not be fair…he contends with hand injuries and if he beats Loma, and continues that run, and clears out the featherweight division, then his laugh will be last and loudest.

Thing is, if Russell wins, he still might not get ample credit, because folks will chirp that Loma wasn’t all that, that he was an amateur superstar whose style hasn’t translated to the pros.

Loma disappointed some of his backers when he didn’t see Orlando Salido for the seasoned and dangerous pugilist that he is, and he allowed himself to lose a battle of will and desire. Salido came in overweight and with a ship on his shoulder, while Loma came in on weight, but with a courteous and amateurish mindset. This week, Loma admitted that Russell will have a hand speed edge and he will enter the ring without a clear concept of how to beat the Marylander. Is that a laudable admission or a surprising lack of direction and confidence? We shall see after the battle for the vacant WBO feather title, set for 12 rounds or less, plays out…

The Boxing Channel’s Al Bernstein offers this lowdown on the matchup.

He notes that Russell has met some “pretty weak” opponents, and has above average hand and foot speed. He has looked “spectacular” in spots but Loma, he says, is one of the superb batch of Ukrainians doing their thing in the ring. Both have question marks dogging them, he states.

This could be a technical stinker, with two refined hitters who don’t get into a pleasing rhythm, and stare at a fellow southpaw, and feint and clinch and the like. Or, one or both men could enter the ring with a little extra zing, because one comes in off a loss and the other looking to prove that the Twittersphere is full of punks and know-it-alls.

Readers, talk to me…you think Russell is truly a pound for pound top 20 talent who just needed to be given the opportunity to fight a top level pro to prove it, and he will show that in Carson? Or will the amateur stud Loma prove what his Top Rank backers believe, that he can be just as deadly in the for-pay ranks as the freebie realm?



-miguel1 :

Lomachenko is a really fascinating story. If his amateur success translates that well into the pro ranks, it will be interesting to see others who might try to emulate that success. At some point, Cuba is going to open up and that will be once source of other fighters that could have that type of potential.

-King Beef :

Looking forward to this 1. It will be interesting to see if Loma learned anything from the Salido fight, and if GR is ready for that step up in competition.....should be a good 1.

-The Commish :

Lomachenko is a really fascinating story. If his amateur success translates that well into the pro ranks, it will be interesting to see others who might try to emulate that success. At some point, Cuba is going to open up and that will be once source of other fighters that could have that type of potential.
I remember five of us sitting around at a bar in Las Vegas the night before a title fight. The talk had turned to boxing, and the oldest gentleman said, "One day, Fidel Castro is gonna' be gone, and Cuba will become a whole different nation. You will see scores of their top fighters begin to turn professional. When they do, the face of boxing will change." We all agreed with our elder, whose name was Red Smith. The other three guys were Bert Sugar, Budd Schulberg and Jose Torres. The year was 1980. The title fight we were covering was Larry Holmes v Muhammad Ali. The talk turned to Cuban boxing because we were speculating how both Ali & Holmes would have done against Teo Stevenson. Well, here we are, 34 years later, and fighters are still escaping Cuba by flotillas and by going AWOL from the team when they are in another country for competition. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just ask Guillermo Rigondeaux. -Randy G.

-oubobcat :

As I have watched tape this week, I have become convinced that not only will Lomachenko win but that he will stop Russell. There is no disputing the athletic ability and hand speed of Russell. He may have the fastest hands in the sport right now. The speed is down right blinding. The sport is littered with examples though of boxers who have much better hand speed than their opponents getting beaten by opponents who are technically better in some other areas (remember Mosley-Forrest and Mosley-Wright). I think despite the blinding speed Russell gets handled by Lomachenko. Russell's speed may cause some issues early for Lomachenko. Maybe Russell wins some early rounds. But lets not forget Lomachenko is a very skilled fighter and was a very skilled and accomplished amateur. The experience of having gone a hard twelve for Lomachenko will come into play as he will still in front of Russell who has never gone a hard four let alone a hard twelve. There inevitable will be some doubt going into Russell's mind and he will slow the pace. Lomachenko will start to come on as he will be more active and confident knowing he has been in the late rounds before. Here is something else to keep in mind...Lomachenko is a much bigger puncher than Russell. Yes Russell has scored some sensational KO's. But just how good were those fighters chins? He has also went the distance a few times against slightly better fighters and hit those guys flush several times without them budging. Lets not forget too Russell has had well documented hand problems and even if his hands are 100% going into the ring the hand problems have to be on his mind. In Lomachenko's fight against Salido, Salido out weighed him by 11-12 pounds when they actually set foot inside the ring. Sallido was much bigger that night than Lomachenko. Yet, it was Lomachenko who hurt Salido in the last two rounds and had Salido in trouble. Once was with a vicious body shot. And lets not forget as well the knockout Lomachenko scored in his pro debut with a body shot. I see Lomachenko focusing early on a body attack and try to wear down Russell. As the fight progresses, Russell's activity will not be the same nor will his movement. Lomachenko starts landing more and continues working the body. Eventually, Lomachenko lands a left hook downstairs that takes all the starch out of Russell. My final prediction...Lomachenko KO 8 with a left hook body shot.

-deepwater2 :

I picked VL to win. After seeing the weigh in I realized how much bigger VL is then Russell. What a difference. Instead of a welterweight Salido in front of him Vl will hold the size advantage in this one. I think you are right. VL by KO mid-rounds.

-brownsugar :

The Salido fight has little to do with this encounter. Forget about Russelll not facing anyone of Salido's calibre. The fact that Russell has never faced anyone of VLO's calibre is where the problem truly lies. Longer, taller, more mobile, and a more varied offence. But the most glaring disparity in attributes is punch resistance. Russell was about 3 or 4 fights into his pro career when he was nearly obliterated in a showcase bout designed to display his vast skills. Russell opened up early and nearly paid the ultimate price for letting his hands with utter abandon. Since that fight his braintrust placed him on a secure(safe) path... One less risksy to help him to improve his defense. It has been proven by W. Klitscho that while a chin can't necessarily be inhanced. It can be educated. Klitschko learned how to relax and recover when he gets hit now as well as how to minimize the chance of getting solidly at all. Russell's dad discussed the gradual progression of Russell Jr's defense at several points over the years.. But its my opinion as well as 99% of the boxing community that protecting Russell hasn't been that great of a benefit. VLO can be explosive if there's any lapse in defense. And in fights of this magnitude there always is. I'm thinking VLO starts out hard and doesn't let up until he forces a KO in the middle rounds. I'd love to be wrong about this and find out that all my "forensis" research was completed on the wrong guy. But Russell hasn't done much to relieve my doubt.... I still hope we at least get to see a fun and competitive bout while it lasts. This night is going to be historic in several aspects. The first Top Rank -GB collaboration in years.. And the record for winning the title with the least number of pro fights.

-miguel1 :

Yes, Commish, it is said that some of that boxing royalty isnt around to see it. Hope I am, but the walls fall and it will happen eventually. Many of those eastern european/former soviet republics may have a lot of talent in the amateur ranks as well.

-The Commish :

Closing in on fight time. My good friend, Jack Reiss, is going to be the referee for V-Lo v Gary Russell. Reiss is as good a ref as anybody in the game. Here we go. -Randy G.