Ahead of his second WBO super-featherweight defence against Colombian Miguel Marriaga in Los Angeles this weekend, Glynn Evans presents the case for why Vasyl Lomachenko should be considered in any P4P conversation.
1. He’s the Greatest Amateur Boxer, Bar None.
Son of a boxing coach, ‘Loma’ was groomed for fighting from the crib. Raised in the Black Sea port town of Bilhorod- Dnistrovskyi in the south of Ukraine, he joined the gym at four, started competing at six and subsequently climbed up the steps 397 times, losing just once.
His sole conqueror, Russia’s Albert Selimov – who controversially bested him in the 2007 World Amateur final in Chicago – was subsequently avenged twice.
Komrade Vasyl first came to international prominence, aged 17, winning the European Junior title – and best boxer award – in Russia in 2004. Thereafter, he hoovered up every available trinket. His CV lists him as a world junior champion (Morocco 2006), European Seniors winner (Liverpool 2008), and a two-time, two-weight gold medallist at both the Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012) and World Seniors (Milan 2009, Baku 2011).
Latterly, he won six out of six – and topped the roster at 61KG – representing the Ukraine Otamans in the World Series of Boxing. By 2013, it had become necessary to scour other planets in search of worthy challenges.
2. He was the Fastest Two-Weight Professional World Champion in History.
Having penned a pro deal with octogenarian Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum in the summer of 2013, the then 25-year-old amateur phenom endeavoured to challenge for a world title in his debut paid fight but was unable to secure the required world ranking.
That hurdle was emphatically negotiated when he ironed out 25-3 Jose Ramirez in four rounds to cement a scrap with the notoriously dirty and dangerous Mexican veteran Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO feather strap in his second gig.
Victory would have confirmed ‘Loma’ as the quickest ever to win a world title. Alas, Salido flunked the weight, carried an 11lb advantage into combat come fight night, then almost gelded the Ukrainian with a ridiculous number of unadmonished low blows prior to nicking a contentious split decision.
But ‘Loma’ refused to bleat. Barely three months later, he collected the same belt – equalling the record set by Thai terror Saensak Muangsurin 40 years before – by scalping Washington D.C’s Gary Russell Jnr.
Less than a year after, in just his seventh gig, Vasyl clobbered Puerto Rican hard case Rocky Martinez in five to gain the WBO –super-feather gong and usurp Japan’s Naoya Inoue as the fastest two division champion in ring history.
3. He Walks it, Rather Than Talks it!
Clearly ‘Loma’ intends to establish his legacy through his talent rather than his tongue. Refreshingly, he talks of names, titles and history rather than dollars...though he’s sure to trouser plenty.
There’s been a commitment to test himself against all-comers. Consider that he’d never ventured beyond the five round WSB duration prior to diving into a 10 rounder against the very able and battle hardened Ramirez for his pro bow. ‘Siri’ Salido was a 56 fight, four-time world champion who’d negotiated the 12 round championship trip against Juan Manuel Marquez, Robert Guerrero and Yuriokis Gamboa when ‘Loma’ obliged him in just his second commercial gig. Ex Olympian Russell had cruised to 24 straight wins but was left bruised and confused in start number three.
And if the three challengers to Lomachenko’s featherweight crown were largely anonymous beyond the trade’s hardcore, that simply reflected a reluctance among the ‘worthies’ to risk pain and humiliation. Besides, that trinity entered with combined stats of just seven losses in 112 fights. Hardly fodder.
In search of a challenge worthy of the word, he fearlessly jumped four pounds north to confront – and obliterate – three-time WBO 130lb boss Martinez. A second leg with conqueror Salido is sought as well as catchweight megafight with fellow double Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
The Ukraine pain dispenser actively hunted out the feared Nicholas Walters, the disturbingly vicious punching Jamaican, and embarrassed the 'Axe Man' before forcing him to quit on his stool.
4. He Can Box You Dizzy.......
Despite his callow experience, Lomachenko is quite possibly the most technically proficient ring mechanic active today. At just 5ft 6in tall, the one they call ‘Hi Tech’ is on the short side for either of the divisions he has operated in. However, every attribute carries an exclamation mark.
Sculpted by his father Anatoly since he first laced up, the sublimely skilled southpaw can jab you silly with his blurring speed from the outside, or machine gun you with the most creative combinations, delivered from a bewildering array of angles, courtesy of sublime footwork.
Throw in the timing and precision of a Swiss watch maker, a resistant chin and a PhD level boxing brain and you begin to understand why Ring Magazine saw fit to award him their Prospect of the Year Award in 2013, after just one pro start.
The double champion is blessed with an obscene level of natural talent yet never shies from putting in the gym hours to ensure optimal output. He is rumoured to spar 15 rounds daily in camp in the build up to fights. ‘I want to be appreciated as a boxer-painter,’ he explains.
5. .....Or He Can ‘Rub You Out’ With A Single Shot!
There’s plenty of savagery to supplement the science. All four stoppage wins on his 6-1 slate came by clean kayo. And while maiden featherweight challenger Suriya Tatakhun survived to the sanctuary of the final bell, the Thai’s carcass was on the canvas in round four prior to Lomachenko damaging his potent left paw. (He still registered a shut out on all cards....with just one good hand!)
And lethal ‘Loma’ can turn the trick to either head or body. Debut foe Ramirez folded like an accordion once the Ukrainian set about his ribs and Mexican challenger Romulo Koasicha was similarly bent double and left buried on the mat (round ten). The fight before, Puerto Rico’s useful Gamalier Rodriguez bowed out after copping a meaty right uppercut in round nine. None of the vanquished had previously been halted in 87 fights combined.
But it was the manner in which the Ukrainian moved up in weight and left the ridiculously rugged Martinez gazing groggily up at the ring lights which suggests Lomachenko merits consideration among the sport’s most savage executioners. The finishing left upper-right hook combo might just be the defining knockout for 2016.
In truth, Lomachenko wreaks his carnage courtesy of precise punch picking and pinpoint accuracy as much as brute force but the end result is devastating. When Vasyl hits you flush, you stay hit!