Ahead of the brilliant Ukrainian’s record seeking third World Title challenge to WBA Lightweight boss Jorge Linares at New York’s Madison Square Garden this weekend, Glynn Evans unearths a few titbits about the planet’s premier prizefighter.
1) ‘Loma’ was born in February 1988 in the Black Sea port of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, southwestern Ukraine. His mother Tetiana was a gymnastics instructor and his father Anatoly was a school teacher. He has one sister. Today he resides in Oxnard, California, with his wife Elena, son Anatoly (6) and daughter Victoria (5).
‘Papa’ Chenko, as dad is known, was a former amateur boxer who has coached Vasyl throughout his entire amateur and professional career. Family folklore has it that the boxing gloves were first placed on ‘Loma’ when he was just three days old!
Had his father not gently coerced Vasyl to the ring, the fighter claims he would have pursued his first love of ice hockey. As a child he also participated in soccer, gymnastics and wrestling and he is proficient in the Russian mixed-martial art of Sambo.
2) Though he first entered the boxing gym aged four and had his first competitive amateur bout aged just nine, Loma’s father insisted that he attend Ukrainian folkdance classes to perfect his footwork and balance. Between the ages of 9 and 13, he donned the pantaloon for two hours each day after school and subsequently travelled the country with national dance troupes and companies.
3) With a CV that shows just one defeat in 397 bouts, the 5ft 6in (naturally right handed) southpaw is widely regarded as the greatest amateur ever and with two Olympic (2008, 2012) and two world (2009, 2011) gold medals on his resume it is difficult to argue otherwise. His sole conqueror, Russia’s Albert Selimov who scalped him in the 2007 World Seniors Featherweight final in Chicago, was avenged twice.
There were several British connections. In 2008, he bagged his only European Senior Title in Liverpool, aged just 20. At the 2009 World Seniors in Milan, he trounced Wales’ Craig Evans 15-1 at the second series stage, prior to completing a 2013 double over British Lionheart Sam Maxwell (first in Kiev, then at London’s York Hall) in the WSB.
4) His greatest amateur accolade was the 2008 acquisition of the Val Barker Trophy, presented to the outstanding boxer, pound-for-pound, at the Olympic Games. Inaugurated in 1936 and named after the 1891 British ABA Heavyweight Champion, the winner is selected by a committee of IABA (International Amateur Boxing Association) officials.
Of the twenty recipients, six (Nino Benvenuti, Patricio Oliva, Roy Jones Jr, Vassiliy Jirov, ‘Loma’ and Clarissa Shields) advanced to win professional World Titles. Dundee Lightweight Dick McTaggart won the award for Great Britain at the 1956 Melbourne Games.
5) Egis Klimas managed star has continued to smash records since advancing to the paid brotherhood under the Top Rank standard in October 2013. After first flunking the weight, merciless Mexican Orlando Salido attempted to break a world record of his own – for low blows – when he contentiously quashed Loma’s effort to bag a pro World Title in the fewest number of fights (two) in March 2014.
However, four months after, Lomachenko equalled Thai Light-Welter Saensak Muangsurin by lifting the WBO Feather crown when outscoring Washington DC’s Gary Russell in his third gig. In June 2016 he eclipsed Japan’s Naoua Inoue as the quickest ever two-weight Champion by icing Puerto Rico’s WBO 130lb king Rocky Martinez in five at the MSG Theater in his seventh start.
If he can relieve Venezuela’s Linares of his WBA Lightweight belt in fight 12 this weekend, he’ll make history as the sport’s swiftest triple weight champion. ’If I’m capable of making history why not make history,’ is his mantra.
6) ‘I just want the biggest names,’ declared Loma when he joined the profession and he wasn’t lying. A record smashing 10 of his initial 11 paid outings carried a WBO World Title tag and already he has scalped a fistful of former, current or future World Champions (Russell, Martinez, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Guillermo Rigondeaux). He has no interest in accommodating meaningless mandatory requirements. ‘It took me less than two seconds to accept Linares,’ quips fearless ‘Loma’.
7) Initially, billed as ‘High Tech’ due to his revolutionary new age training drills, Loma can inflict torment and trauma in equal measure. Those who spout that he lacks a genuine one-shot kayo kick must have been blindfolded when he put Rocky Martinez to sleep with a right hook. It should be noted that each of the first four stoppage victims on his 10-1 (8) slate suffered the full ten toll!
Latterly, he has re-styled himself as ‘NoMas(no more)Chenko’ after his four most recent 130lb challengers – fearing public humiliation more than a physical pounding – raised the white flag whilst nestled on their stools. ‘They all trash talk but after we fight none of them come to my press conferences,’ quips Loma.
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