Inside the bright and shiny Inter-Continental Hotel packed with the latest hard-to-decipher electronic and computerized gadgets was Vasyl “High-Tech” Lomachenko, a hard-to-decipher world champion.
It was a perfect fit.
Members of the media gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the Top Rank promotion of WBA super featherweight titlist Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) on Wednesday. It was the first time a boxing press conference was ever held at the swanky hotel that was difficult to navigate through its myriad of angular corridors.
In three weeks Lomachenko defends his title against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) on August 5, at Microsoft Theater in LA Live. ESPN will televise the fight card.
Lomachenko, 29, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. In spite of his vast boxing talent, the transition from amateur to pro has been a tricky adventure. First he slipped and lost to Mexican hard nose Orlando Salido in second pro fight. Then he’s discovered that the praise and adulation he received as an amateur was not coming from general pro fans.
Hard core boxing fans and those from the Ukraine and Russia love his remarkable agility, speed and off-the-chart technical prowess.
“I’ve never seen any boxer with the skill set that Vasyl Lomachenko has,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum. “Anybody who knows anything about boxing can see it.”
But the majority of boxing fans prefer blood and guts fighters or someone who hungers to win by knockout, not by slapping someone around the ring then doing a shifty shuffle. They would rather Lomachenko floor an over-matched opponent in the first round than carry the guy for eight unnecessary rounds.
Lately, the Ukrainian prizefighter has found a more aggressive nature and opponents have been dismissed early. In his last title defense Jason Sosa, who fought to a draw with Nicholas Walters, was analyzed quickly and dissected by “High-Tech” like an unwelcomed computer virus.
He’s catching on.
Now High-Tech faces Marriaga who seemingly was overwhelmed at first by WBO featherweight champ Oscar Valdez but showed a resilient chin. Once the Colombian got into the rhythm in the later rounds the fight slowly developed into one of the more entertaining matches of the year.
Was it the StubHub atmosphere or was it pure Marriaga?
We’ll see. Lomachenko seems to make even the juiciest looking match ups into snooze affairs. Is he just too talented or too careful? Or maybe he simply needs to move up another weight division.
Also on the fight card will be Raymundo Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KOs) battling Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez (35-2, 19 KOs) in a lightweight semi-main event that features two remarkably similar styles.
Beltran, 35 (pictured on the left), has been around for a while and has never been dominated. The Mexican veteran of 18 years in the boxing business has come oh so close to a world title against Ricky Burns with a draw and he did not make weight against Japan’s Takahiro Ao in their title fight. He’s the “hard luck Charley” of the boxing world.
Vasquez, 29, has also challenged for the world title against Takashi Uchiyama and against Javier Fortuna and lost against both. He’s a counter-puncher, much like Beltran and also has a world class chin. It’s all about who has more when they meet.
Top Rank said they have signed Mikaela Mayer who breaks the spell of the Las Vegas-based organization not having any female boxers in the fold.
Mayer, 27, was a member of the US Olympic boxing team that participated in last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She’s a tall lightweight with speed and agility who was raised in Southern California.
“We feel the time is right to sign a female boxer,” said Bob Arum on Wednesday in Los Angeles. “The timing is right. Before there wasn’t a platform to showcase female boxing.”
Bruce Trampler, matchmaker for Top Rank, said that Mayer has all the ingredients needed for an elite female fighter.
“We were very impressed with her fighting skills,” said Trampler. “We look for a lot of factors when signing someone and she has all of them.”
Mayer fought in the 132-pound lightweight division as an amateur and is expected to remain in the pro lightweight division which is the 135-pound weight limit. It’s also the same division as Ireland’s Katie Taylor who will be fighting on July 29 at Barclays Center in New York.
Could we be seeing a match between Mayer and Taylor in the near future?
Photo credit: Mikey Williams
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