The Hauser Report: Ali, Lomachenko, and More

Hauser Report – Muhammad Ali fought fifty different opponents in his sixty-one professional fights. Twenty-nine of them predeceased him. As the world celebrates Ali’s life, let’s pause to remember those who died before him.

Tunney Hunsaker (2005)

Herb Siler (2001)

Tony Esperti (2002)

Jim Robinson (date of death unknown)

Donnie Fleeman (2012)

Lamar Clark  (2006)

Duke Sabedong (2008)

Willi Besmanoff (2010)

Sonny Banks (1965)

Alejandro Lavorante (1964)

Archie Moore (1998)

Charlie Powell (2014)

Henry Cooper (2011)

Sonny Liston (1970)

Floyd Patterson (2006)

Cleveland Williams  (1999)

Ernie Terrell (2014)

Zora Folley (1972)

Jerry Quarry (1999)

Oscar Bonavena (1976)

Joe Frazier (2011)

Jimmy Ellis (2014)

Buster Mathis (1995)

Mac Foster (2010)

Bob Foster (2015)

Ken Norton (2013)

Ron Lyle (2011)

Jimmy Young (2005)

Trever Berbick (2006)

*     *     *

Top Rank’s fight card at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night was all but lost in the worldwide celebration of Muhammad Ali.

Ali fought in the big arena at the current Garden on five occasions. Against Oscar Bonavena, Joe Frazier (twice), Floyd Patterson, and Earnie Shavers. There were hopes that his spirit would find its way to The Theatre at MSG, where Saturday’s fights were contested. But it never quite got there.

The first co-featured fight of the evening matched Felix Verdejo against Juan Jose Martinez.

Verdejo (21-0, 14 KOs) has been touted by Top Rank as the next Puerto Rican ring icon. He has good skills coupled with speed and charisma. But as of late, Felix has been going in soft and, even then, has failed to close the show.

Juan Jose Martinez (25-2, 17 KOs) was chosen as Verdejo’s opponent with an eye toward making Felix look good. He’s a plodding, straight-ahead fighter without much power. The only issue was whether – and if so, when – Verdejo would knock him out. That occurred at the 2:40 mark of round five.

After the bout, Verdejo said he wanted to fight the best. He hasn’t so far. Given the level of opposition that Felix has faced to date, one wonders whether he’ll peak as a world champion or a beltholder.

The second fight of the evening saw Vasyl Lomachenko move up in weight to challenge WBO super-featherweight titleholder Roman Martinez.

Lomachenko (who entered the ring with a 5-1, 3 KOs professional record) is one of the most decorated amateurs in ring history, having won gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as a representative of Ukraine. He turned pro on October 12, 2013, lost a split decision in a championship fight against Orlando Salido in his second pro bout, and impressively conquered Gary Russell in his next outing to claim the WBO featherweight crown. This is known as a fast track.

Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) claimed the WBO super-featherweight title in 2015 via decision over Salido (who’d moved up in weight) and retained the title on a draw against Salido in his most recent fight. A decision loss to Ricky Burns and knockout defeat at the hands of Mikey Garcia plus three draws spotted Roman’s record.

It would be hard for any fighter to live up to the accolades that Lomachenko’s most ardent proponents have heaped upon his shoulders. But he’s a complete fighter and very good. Against Martinez, Vasyl didn’t disappoint, ending matters with an impressive left-uppercut-right-hook combination at 1:09 of round five.

Lomachenko means it when he says he’ll fight anyone.

Both endings were expected. Lomachenko and Verdejo were 15-to-1 favorites. Neither opponent won a round. As a general rule, fights are more entertaining if the audience doesn’t know in advance who will win.

That said; Lomachenko is particularly intriguing. Vasyl lost to Salido in part because of a significant weight differential between them and more so because the referee failed to clamp down on Orlando’s over-the-line roughhouse tactics.

Indeed, Lomachenko recently noted, “The biggest concern coming from amateur to professional was to adapt to that dirty style of boxing. It’s not that there are not dirty fighters in the amateurs. It is that, in the amateurs, the referee will put a stop to it right away.”

Lomachenko has matured as a professional fighter. He would beat Salido convincingly today.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His most recent book (Muhammad Ali: a Tribute to the Greatest) has been published by Pegasus Books in the United States and by HarperUK in Great Britain. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored him with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

Hauser Report

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COMMENTS

-oubobcat :

Roman Martinez is a very good fighter. He did beat Salido in their first fight and gave Mikey Garcia a tough fight in which he put Garcia down. It was amazing to me that such an accomplished fighter was a 15-1 underdog. And as I thought about it more, it actually should have been higher. Why? Lomachenko is really that good. With the exception of a couple rounds maybe in the Russell fight, Lomachenko has basically dominated every second of every round since the Salido fight. Even in the Salido fight, Lomachenko was coming on strong and dominating late. One of my favorite fighters is Ricardo Lopez. I absolutely loved watching Lopez fight as he was to me the closest thing to a perfect fighter I had ever seen perform. He stood in the pocket and threw power shots landing more often than not. Despite the fact he would stand right in front of his opponents often, he rarely was hit clean. In a fight in Vegas against Mongkol Charoen, Lopez was hit flush hit a punch in the middle of a fight that he was dominating. He wasn't hurt but it was shocking to see him hit clean. Lopez went back to his corner and immediately apologized for being so careless. I bring up Lopez because Lomachenko is starting to remind me of him. They are very similar despite the fact Lomachenko is a southpaw and Lopez was an orthodox fighter. Lomachenko is becoming this generations Lopez and may end up being better which is something for me to say as I never thought we would ever see anything close to Ricardo Lopez again. But we are and Lomachenko is going to be fun to watch in the years ahead. Much like Lopez too, I doubt we ever see Lomachenko in a competitive fight until the very tail end of his career whenever that will be.


-brownsugar :

Lomanchenko is the Roy Jones Jr, ....the Floyd Mayweather, the Pernell Whitiker of the 2K Generation,. ...quiet personality, but awesome execution and presentation in the ring. ...Pac and Floyd can stay retired,. as always, boxing always provides the next big thing talent wise. Who will arise to challenge this man? Rigo is too small. Russell will be lucky to go the distance again. Lomanchenko might even make it a the way to welterweight. Awesome performance. Can boxing embrace a quiet fighter?


-Shoulder Roll Defense :

Lomanchenko is the Roy Jones Jr, ....the Floyd Mayweather, the Pernell Whitiker of the 2K Generation,. ...quiet personality, but awesome execution and presentation in the ring. ...Pac and Floyd can stay retired,. as always, boxing always provides the next big thing talent wise. Who will arise to challenge this man? Rigo is too small. Russell will be lucky to go the distance again. Lomanchenko might even make it a the way to welterweight. Awesome performance. Can boxing embrace a quiet fighter?
Lomachenko is vastly skilled and very talented, but I laugh when people say that he is already "pound for pound" top 3. Roy Jones Jr. stated that the only fighter that he puts higher than Lomachenko is Andre Ward. Really? I guess my question is why doesn't Rigo get the same type of love? Wasn't he a decorated amateur that is now undefeated in the pro ranks. A slick southpaw with pop as illustrated by his KO percentage. I make the comparison because there are clearly double standards in the boxing world. Lomachenko's defensive/technical style is viewed as "Piccasoesque," while Rigo was banned from HBO and wasn't supported by his promoter, Mr. Bob Arum. Lomachenko doesn't have a fighter the quality of Donaire on his resume, yet people rate him higher than Rigo and other battled tested proven commodities. I love Lomachenko's style and skills, but he needs to prove himself. Arum should treat Nicholas Walters with some respect financially and then we can see what Loma trully has. He got hit with a few right hands on Saturday and Martinez hits no where near as hard as Walters. Heck, match him against the awkward but extremely athletic Javier Fortuna. This is all just food for thought!


-teaser :

martinez didn't seem to "have" it that nite ...always like he was fighting on time delay ...something like juanma in his last few fights...Lomo would have beaten him anyway but you think Roman was having an off nite ? ...he just couldn't get into any kind of rhythm and looked lethargic ...wicked knockout combo ...should be some great match ups ...love watching Vascyl fight


-brownsugar :

Lomachenko is vastly skilled and very talented, but I laugh when people say that he is already "pound for pound" top 3. Roy Jones Jr. stated that the only fighter that he puts higher than Lomachenko is Andre Ward. Really? I guess my question is why doesn't Rigo get the same type of love? Wasn't he a decorated amateur that is now undefeated in the pro ranks. A slick southpaw with pop as illustrated by his KO percentage. I make the comparison because there are clearly double standards in the boxing world. Lomachenko's defensive/technical style is viewed as "Piccasoesque," while Rigo was banned from HBO and wasn't supported by his promoter, Mr. Bob Arum. Lomachenko doesn't have a fighter the quality of Donaire on his resume, yet people rate him higher than Rigo and other battled tested proven commodities. I love Lomachenko's style and skills, but he needs to prove himself. Arum should treat Nicholas Walters with some respect financially and then we can see what Loma trully has. He got hit with a few right hands on Saturday and Martinez hits no where near as hard as Walters. Heck, match him against the awkward but extremely athletic Javier Fortuna. This is all just food for thought!
Valid concerns ShoulderRoll, there was a time when I would have picked Rigo over Lomanchenko,. But Lomanchenko has grown both in size and in ability. Rigo is just as good but he's been inconsistent and he has sabotaged his own development by not understanding basic things like visa guidelines and his managerial obligations, long layoffs and contractual disputes. I never cared that the mainstream didn't like his mobile defensive style. But you have to fight often enough to maintain visibility. I hope he gets it all sorted out because I miss watching him. By the way,... Lomanchenko offered Walters an additional $300'000.000 from his own contract and offered to put it in writing (when Walters balked about his purse) and Walters still walked. Also Walters was held to a draw in his last fight.


-Gabrielito :

Lomachenko is the new breed friends. Andy Lee himself couldn't have landed a more perfect right hook to close the show. I'd pay to see Floyd vs Loma right now.


-The Good Doctor :

@Shoulder Roll Defense I am with you sir. I agree, Lomachenko is really, really good but let the man run a few laps before we anoint him as next. Now do I have him favored against anyone in or around his division...............probably although I think Rigo causes hell for him in what would be a very interesting fight. For some reason, not only in boxing, but across all sports and socially, we have this almost inhumane attraction to saying someone is the best, revolutionary, next, or the new standard way too soon or before they are proven. How quick our memories dispel: OKC up 3-1 on Golden State Theranos Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, & Rubio Provodnikov and all of these within the last 24 months. Am I saying that Lomo will flame out? No but I am saying pump the brakes a little.


-brownsugar :

martinez didn't seem to "have" it that nite ...always like he was fighting on time delay ...something like juanma in his last few fights...Lomo would have beaten him anyway but you think Roman was having an off nite ? ...he just couldn't get into any kind of rhythm and looked lethargic ...wicked knockout combo ...should be some great match ups ...love watching Vascyl fight
I'm all in.... I do believe Lomanchenko is "the one" however I do respect the reservation of our esteemed collegues,. ...but let's face it, VL is a big 130 pounder and will soon rise to 135,. ..the fight with Rigo is quickly slipping away. He will be a junior welter in 18 months by my humble estimation.


-brownsugar :

Also there's a lot of reports that Martinez was weight drained,. But on his best day Martinez doesn't last 5 rounds,. ... Lomanchenko is even better than Mikey Garcia.


-Radam G :

Lomachenko is vastly skilled and very talented, but I laugh when people say that he is already "pound for pound" top 3. Roy Jones Jr. stated that the only fighter that he puts higher than Lomachenko is Andre Ward. Really? I guess my question is why doesn't Rigo get the same type of love? Wasn't he a decorated amateur that is now undefeated in the pro ranks. A slick southpaw with pop as illustrated by his KO percentage. I make the comparison because there are clearly double standards in the boxing world. Lomachenko's defensive/technical style is viewed as "Piccasoesque," while Rigo was banned from HBO and wasn't supported by his promoter, Mr. Bob Arum. Lomachenko doesn't have a fighter the quality of Donaire on his resume, yet people rate him higher than Rigo and other battled tested proven commodities. I love Lomachenko's style and skills, but he needs to prove himself. Arum should treat Nicholas Walters with some respect financially and then we can see what Loma trully has. He got hit with a few right hands on Saturday and Martinez hits no where near as hard as Walters. Heck, match him against the awkward but extremely athletic Javier Fortuna. This is all just food for thought!
Wow! V-Lo is awesome. Cuba Willie Rigo was disrespected a bit by Top Rank. But he is just not pro IT. Dude has mad skills, but not naive fan-friendly appeal. Those fans who don't know the game like wild, crazy take-it-and-give-it syet. As for rude boy Nicho-Walt, he will eventually get that work, though V-Lo will outgun him IMHO! Holla!


-Radam G :

@Shoulder Roll Defense I am with you sir. I agree, Lomachenko is really, really good but let the man run a few laps before we anoint him as next. Now do I have him favored against anyone in or around his division...............probably although I think Rigo causes hell for him in what would be a very interesting fight. For some reason, not only in boxing, but across all sports and socially, we have this almost inhumane attraction to saying someone is the best, revolutionary, next, or the new standard way too soon or before they are proven. How quick our memories dispel: OKC up 3-1 on Golden State Theranos Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, & Rubio Provodnikov and all of these within the last 24 months. Am I saying that Lomo will flame out? No but I am saying pump the brakes a little.
V-Lo will flame out fast by other pro standards. So he needs to get it while it is hot and go for the gusto. At his stage, he should not fight anything but the best of best. If he plays it right, he will have three or four more good years and about 12 more scraps. Name me any 400-500 fight amateurs that had a long pro career? That is what I thought. Boksing nature doesn't flow like that. Besides, V-Lo already has had 15+ pro bouts. Business tricks of the trade don't ride, slide or hide with da know know of da hurt bitnezz. People seem to forget that V-Lo fought in the WSB series. Holla!


-SuperLight :

Wow! V-Lo is awesome. Cuba Willie Rigo was disrespected a bit by Top Rank. But he is just not pro IT. Dude has mad skills, but not naive fan-friendly appeal. Those fans who don't know the game like wild, crazy take-it-and-give-it syet. As for rude boy Nicho-Walt, he will eventually get that work, though V-Lo will outgun him IMHO! Holla!
Rigo has skills and amateur record but why is he not making inroads as a pro? Is it looks, style, language barrier or poor promotion? My guess it's mostly down to most fans' (and Arum's?) appreciation of yer Mexican ahead of your Cuban. It seems no-one's too interested in his status as a defector/refugee, fighting for the American dream. Likewise, Rigo is not creating controversy by showing a love-to-hate-him side a la Mayweather, a latterly defensive, extremely skilled technician. Lomachenko's reputation is as a comparatively aggressive fighter. I can see that, but as someone else pointed out, it's not like Rigo can't KO when he wants to. I like the personality Loma projects. I've said before I love watching both of these guys and it's a shame a fight between them will probably never happen. I'm glad Mr Hauser acknowledged the how/why of Loma's loss to Salido. Lomachenko has certainly learnt from that one.


-deepwater2 :

The fact that Loma offered $300,000 of his own money to Walters speaks volumes. Loma and Usyk are two guys I am very excited about.


-brownsugar :

I'd like to hear what Hauser has to say about the Canelo lawsuit since that is his specialty area of expertise. How does one pay off an 8 million dollar award even if they do have the cash?,. ...and does this mean that we will see Canelo face a decent challenger like Charlo, Williams, Andrade, Golovkin, or Smith to make up the deficit?


-stormcentre :

Personally, I doubt that Canelo will be fighting a real/serious challenge - where we really can't work out whom will win - next. Agree Lomachenko is (already) a star, and will probably go on to be one of the all time greats in his weights. Cant beat that amateur pedigree and Eastern Bloc toughness. Provided he's not already shot; bring on Walters, and Lomachenko.


-amayseng :

Lomachenko is vastly skilled and very talented, but I laugh when people say that he is already "pound for pound" top 3. Roy Jones Jr. stated that the only fighter that he puts higher than Lomachenko is Andre Ward. Really? I guess my question is why doesn't Rigo get the same type of love? Wasn't he a decorated amateur that is now undefeated in the pro ranks. A slick southpaw with pop as illustrated by his KO percentage. I make the comparison because there are clearly double standards in the boxing world. Lomachenko's defensive/technical style is viewed as "Piccasoesque," while Rigo was banned from HBO and wasn't supported by his promoter, Mr. Bob Arum. Lomachenko doesn't have a fighter the quality of Donaire on his resume, yet people rate him higher than Rigo and other battled tested proven commodities. I love Lomachenko's style and skills, but he needs to prove himself. Arum should treat Nicholas Walters with some respect financially and then we can see what Loma trully has. He got hit with a few right hands on Saturday and Martinez hits no where near as hard as Walters. Heck, match him against the awkward but extremely athletic Javier Fortuna. This is all just food for thought!
Rigo is a genius skill wise but when you hit the deck as many times as he has and is not active or fighting top guys I dont think he belongs in the top ten at this point. skill wise he may be top 3, but getting it done in the ring being knocked on his asss shows he is not top 3 anything. How many times did Floyd get knocked on his ***? GGG? Ward? ya 10 years ago Kovalev? RGonzalez?