VASYL LOMACHENKO IS THE REAL DEAL — In his last bout, only his eighth pro bout, he totally took apart and broke the will of a former world champion. His opponent was the unbeaten and former two division champ Nicholas Walters, now 26-1-1. Of course I’m speaking of WBO junior lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko 7-1 (5) who won his second weight division title when Walters refused to come out for the eighth round of their bout this past weekend. In boxing circles, most see Walters as pulling a “No Mas”…..which entered the boxing lexicon 36 years ago almost to the day when Roberto Duran reportedly said “No Mas” during the eighth round of his WBC welterweight title rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Comparing Duran’s surrender against Leonard with Walters’ against Lomachenko, isn’t an accurate comparison, other than they both had had enough and were being embarrassed when they bailed out. Duran had absorbed some ferocious body shots from Leonard during the course of their bout, and given the benefit of the doubt, may have been weakened by his dramatic and quick weight loss getting ready for the bout. On the other hand, Walters wasn’t hit with the same ferocity that Duran was by Leonard – Lomachenko outclassed Walters by a much wider margin and easily won 19 of the 21 minutes the bout lasted, allowing for the first two minutes of the first round when they were just measuring each other.
Due to his utter and complete dominance of Nicholas Walters, Lomachenko is becoming a Supernova and quickly becoming a fighter that many observers see as the most skillful boxer in the world. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and two division world champ may move up to lightweight and attempt to win a third title in 2017 according to his promoter Bob Arum.
Speaking of Arum, he recently said “I’m prejudiced but I believe Vasyl Lomachenko may very well be the best fighter in the world. He’s certainly the best technician I’ve seen since Muhammad Ali. I haven’t seen anybody perform that way, including Floyd Mayweather, including Manny Pacquiao, the way Lomachenko is performing. It’s just brilliant. I’m really stunned when I watch him fight. His technique, he does things I’ve never seen any fighter do.”
This quote, which appeared in the Telegraph, may seem like an overreach, but it actually has some validity. However, comparing Lomachenko to Muhammad Ali is a poor comparison. Other than being fast and elusive boxers, Muhammad and Vasyl share little else. Prior to fighting Walters, I wrote the following about Lomachenko in my pre-fight analysis:
“His speed of hand and foot along with the way he puts his punches together to the head and body from either lead, make him unique. At ring center there’s nothing he can’t do and it’s phenomenal how quickly he can transition and pivot from offense to defense and then back to attacking. It’s impressive to see him cut loose and open up offensively and at the same time remain just out of his opponent’s range to counter him back — Vasyl can also fight going forward and back and, if need be, side-to-side as well. And believe me, it’s a real task trying to get to a guy who is igniting minor explosions in your face while on the move. Sometimes he does things and will move without much purpose other than to occupy the opponent, but to date it has kept most of his adversaries off of him.”
In all honesty, as great as Ali was, I wouldn’t have said this about him. Ali was athletically gifted and exceptionally fast, as is Lomachenko, but Vasyl is more skilled and resourceful. Lomachenko uses head and shoulder feints terrifically; Ali made you reach and miss. Lomachenko stays in the pocket and twists and pivots, usually remaining in position to punch, that’s not how Ali rolled. Lomachenko used fast jabs, slow jabs and hybrid jabs to stop, freeze or set up his four and five punch barrages….Ali changed the variance on his jab, but not to the degree of Lomachenko. Technically, Lomachenko is also more structurally grounded than Ali was, and he sees the body as being a worthy target. That is a big difference compared to Ali, who went entire bouts without throwing a single body punch.
After watching Lomachenko dominate Walters before he ever had a chance to really open up with everything he had, it’s hard to picture him tripping against any current junior lightweight or lightweight. I don’t care what name you throw out, he’s faster, equally as strong and fights on a different level than anyone in either division. In order to beat him, it’s going to take a fighter strong enough to walk through whatever he sends their way, and who at the same time will force him to fight for his life, instead of using the ring as his playground. Perhaps he would be vulnerable to a tall rangy guy, built like Walters, but who can jab him and keep him on his heels, while at the same time possessing a right hand that keeps him from becoming too bold. However, before that happens, they’d have to touch him a few times in order for him to get the message.
At this time, I don’t see a style that Lomachenko is vulnerable to. It’s hard to find a junior lightweight or lightweight who is skilled enough to out-finesse or out-box him. He has the style that would’ve given Floyd Mayweather a fit at 130, and I could see him being a difficult night for a prime Shane Mosley at 135. To beat him, I see a fighter the likes of a vintage Roberto Duran being able to overwhelm him, but there’s nobody around close to being the beast at 135 that Duran was circa 1970-78.
No, I’m not saying Lomachenko is as great as Mayweather and Mosley were. What I am saying is that it’ll take a fighter with a plethora of strength and physicality to beat him the way he is fighting right now. And I don’t see anybody like that occupying the current landscape between 130 and 135. As of this writing, due to his deep reservoir of skill and physicality, Vasyl Lomachenko may not be truly tested until he goes up to the junior welterweight division. Lomachenko has an extreme overload of talent, with more physical strength at his weight than he gets credit for. He looks like a fighter who will go as far as his strength and durability allow. He may not hit the wall until he brushes up against a fighter who can force him to do what he doesn’t want to do, instead of the opposite.
For a fighter with only eight professional bouts on his resume he looks remarkable. It’s almost unfathomable. Lomachenko may not encounter a bridge too far until junior welterweight champ Terence Crawford is in the other corner looking across the ring at him.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com