LOMACHENKO VS SOSA — No, he’s not nearly as big of an underdog as Buster Douglas was the night he shocked the boxing world with a stunning 10th round knockout of undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, but no one gives Jason Sosa 20-1-4 a chance to upset WBO junior lightweight title holder Vasyl Lomachenko 7-1 (5). Today boxing is more of a business than anything else – something that doesn’t apply to Sosa. He believes fighters should fight and hats off to him for bringing that mindset to a sport that is in dire need of it.
In case you missed it, Sosa was Lomachenko’s third option for his title defense. Orlando Salido 43-13-4 (30), the only man to beat Lomachenko, turned the fight down because the money wasn’t right. Panama’s Jezreel Corrales 21-1 (8) also declined because he also thought the money was short. However, the thought exists that if Lomachenko gets by Sosa, he’ll fight one of the two before he moves up to lightweight and challenges title holders Mikey Garcia or Jorge Linares.
Lomachenko was recently quoted saying …“If the things are gonna go like the way it’s going today – everybody’s running from [me], not fighting me, I will be forced to go to 135. I hope the guys at 135 are gonna be standing up and coming to fight.”
Well, he certainly cannot think that about Sosa who jumped at the chance to fight him. In Lomachenko, Sosa is meeting one of the most athletically gifted fighters to come along in the past few years. As an amateur he won two Olympic gold medals and compiled a record of 396-1. In his second pro bout he challenged Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title. Salido, a pro that’s been around and seen everything in the ring, roughed him up and un-nerved him. Lomachenko seemed a little befuddled and didn’t fight with a sense of urgency until it was too late. He lost a split decision. That was three years ago and Lomachenko has been on a tear ever since, winning titles at 126 and 130.
Yes, Jason Sosa has his work cut out for him – he’ll need Lomachenko to have an off-night and he’ll have to be better than he’s ever been just to win a few rounds. But one thing you can count on is that Sosa won’t be overwhelmed by the moment. I love some of the things he’s said and the way he’s removed the burden of the big fight and moment.
“Lomachenko is a fighter that you have to respect, he has brought good things to boxing but I am mentally ready. I have not been the favorite before, but I know that beating Lomachenko is going to change my life and that’s what I want. I want to be the best boxer in the world. I know I can reach my goal,” Sosa said.
“I have a little bit of everything, I am a boxer, I am brave, but above everything I am intelligent. I do not take anything away from Orlando Salido who already beat [Lomachenko] and he is a good fighter, but I have more than Salido and also I’m younger. This April 8th, Lomachenko is going to get shocked.”
Vasyl Lomachenko is clearly one of the top-5 pound for pound fighters in boxing, but after only eight pro fights, and not even being undefeated, no, he doesn’t reside at the top of the list. There’s a penalty for losing to the best pro you’ve faced – and it wasn’t like he was forced to take a leap so wide in his second pro bout. He wanted to make a big splash and it didn’t go his way. His high ranking is based more on potential and what he’s going to do as opposed to what he has done, but the future looks almost unlimited.
From a style perspective Lomachenko has a big advantage over Sosa and almost every other fighter that he will confront. His biggest assets are his speed, footwork and balance. Speed, as most know, is always a huge asset both offensively and defensively. But his footwork and balance make him dangerous because it translates into him being able to punch and defend from anywhere. He’s like a rubber band in that he can adjust to almost anything his opponent attempts because of his athleticism. In order to beat him, you must possess something physically or in the form of a weapon that he has to address in order to prevent him from sliding and gliding about the ring as he picks his spots to cut loose and get off.
The problem for Jason Sosa is that he does everything adequately or slightly better but he doesn’t do anything spectacular. In reality he doesn’t have one discernible tool that Lomachenko had to address during his training. Sosa isn’t what I would deem as being slow-footed and slow-handed, but he can’t match Lomachenko — not even close — when it comes to speed. He also doesn’t hold the edge in physicality and I question whether he’s strong enough to muscle or maneuver Vasyl to where he thinks he wants him. And perhaps his biggest deficit will be in punching power. Does he punch hard enough to where if he caught Lomachenko with something big it would hurt Vasyl enough to where he can follow it up? I sense that even though it hasn’t been proven, Lomachenko takes a good punch and to really disrupt him it’ll take more than one to make him do what he doesn’t want to.
If you’re advising Sosa, what’s your battle plan? Obviously you need to fight and make it ugly because it’s doubtful Jason has the equipment to out-box Lomachenko by fighting him at center ring. Okay, with that settled what’s left? Without being able to wait and react to him, Sosa has no choice but to go after Lomachenko and try to make him uncomfortable. And that’s a tall order to ask because Lomachenko can fight on the move exceptionally well. And while moving he can punch and stop to pick a side to attack and then pivot out after he’s done his scoring. To prevent that Sosa must corner him, but it’s doubtful he has the foot speed or the physical strength to do it.
Without the speed to match Lomachenko at any turn, the single shot power to freeze him, rendering him vulnerable and defenseless, or the foot speed and coordination to cut the ring off and seal his escape route – Sosa basically needs to get lucky. And that’s not plausible, no not at this time, not with Lomachenko looking ahead to big fights with Garcia and Linares and the hope of capturing his third title at lightweight.
Lomachenko vs. Sosa is a potentially great fighter facing a very solid pro that will show up and give his best effort. At this level of boxing that’s seldom enough. I expect Sosa to force Lomachenko to work and earn everything he gets when they meet Saturday on HBO…….and I would be utterly shocked if Sosa pulled a Nicholas Walters and said “that’s it, he’s better and I’m done.”
I expect Lomachenko to control the action every second but not totally embarrass Sosa. Jason will be able to show his face the next day and move on to his next fight.
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Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com