After just nine paid gigs, Ukrainian pain dispenser Vasyl Lomachenko has already hoovered up two world titles and scalped five rival world champions.
As we prepare for the BoxNation screened third defence of his WBO Super-Featherweight belt against Columbian clubber Miguel Marriaga on August 5th, Glynn Evans quizzed ten of Britain’s most eminent boxing journalists and broadcasters on whether the double Olympic champion now deserves consideration as the premier P4P fighter on the planet.
Alan Hubbard (ex boxing correspondent for The Independent)
Personally, I’d go for Gennady Golovkin, with Lomachenko next in line.
‘Triple G’ is a smart fighter and a particularly good exponent of the forgotten art of body punching. Though he’s in his mid 30s, I think he’s at his peak at the moment and, like Muhammad Ali, he’s never shirked a decent opponent. He’s beaten everyone they’ve put in front of him.
I’m sure ‘Loma’ will be considered the best within a year or so. He’s a very smooth all rounder.
Matt Christie (Editor of Boxing News)
On sheer ability, you can’t look past Lomachenko. I can’t ever remember a fighter as gifted as him. All that hurts him is the quality of opposition that he’s faced thus far. A lot of his opponents aren’t known to the wider sporting public at large. He’s certainly excelled against all his come up against.
In the 80’s we had Hagler, Leonard and Hearns who were all very charming with the media as well as very talented. However, while boxing’s flying at the moment, a lot of the guys at the very top, like ‘Lomachenko, aren’t catching fire with the public because they don’t speak English and that’s a great pity.
In terms of achievement, and hot off his two wins over Sergey Kovalev, you’d also need to put Andre Ward up there.
Colin Hart (Hall of Fame boxing columnist for The Sun)
After September 16th, it’ll be ‘Canelo’ Alvarez because I’m tipping him to upset Mr Golovkin. The young Mexican has great technical ability; can fight, box and is very fast. He, Golovkin, (Andre) Ward and (Terence) Crawford are all brilliant. It’s a rich period for boxing.
But as of now, I’d say Andre Ward is the best technically, though not the most exciting to watch. He’s a bigger version of Bernard Hopkins. He brings all the skills and is also very brave. He handled (Sergey) Kovalev pretty easily and would’ve kayoed him in the second fight, had it been allowed to carry on.
‘Loma’, like (Guillermo) Rigoneaux is certainly right up there but neither has beaten enough ‘good ‘uns’ to be considered for the top spot just yet.
Steve Lillis (BoxNation journalist/presenter)
Aaarghhh! This is so subjective. Today, I’d say it’s Andre Ward but I’ll probably have changed my choice by tomorrow.
You have to regard Roman Gonzalez very highly but he’s forced to take hard fights above his natural weight class. And I love Errol Spence, he’s destined for number one. But right now, it’s Ward one, ‘Loma’ two, with Terence Crawford - my personal favourite to watch - in third.
You have to look at the calibre Ward has beaten. So many were unbeaten (seven) or had just one loss (nine). Look who he beat to win the Super Six; a prime Mikkel Kessler, a prime Arthur Abraham, a prime Carl Froch. And look at how (comprehensively) he beat them. How good does his win over Sullivan Barrera look now? Subsequently, he twice toyed with Kovalev.
But everything Lomachenko does is sheer brilliance. You can’t learn the stuff he does, you’re born with it. He has brilliant footwork just as Pele was blessed with brilliant feet. But you have to go with the CV. ‘Loma’ needs two or three marquee names to be considered ahead of Ward.
Nick Parkinson (boxing columnist for the Daily Star)
I’m on a P4P ratings panel with ESPN and I’ve always stuck with Golovkin. Mind, he needs to beat ‘Canelo’ to stay there.
I try to assess based on the fighter’s records, accomplishments, longevity and who they’ve beaten. I thought ‘Triple G’ beat Danny Jacobs quite clearly and Jacobs has a hell of a record himself. Andre Ward is my number two, though there’s doubts over both of his wins over Sergey Kovalev, with Lomachenko third.
Guillermo Rigondeaux is great for the purists but hasn’t been relevant for a long time and Roman Gonzalez, a super little boxer, will return to my top three if he wins his title back (against WBC super-fly champ Srisaket Sor Rungvisai) in September.
‘Loma’ is the best I’ve ever seen live in terms of ability but he’s only had nine fights and must defeat someone who’s a major name before he can he considered the ‘Top Man’. He’ll become number one someday soon.
John Rawling (BoxNation commentator)
I liked Roman Gonzalez as the P4P leader until he moved too far up in weight.
But presently, it’s got to be Lomachenko. He’s the complete package; doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses. He’s as good a fighter as I’ve ever seen. There’s nothing to suggest he’s not the absolute business. However, every good fighter needs big fights against big names to become great.
If ‘Canelo’ Alvarez comes through against Golovkin in September, you could make a strong case for him because he’ll have beaten a great fighter.
Skillwise, Guillermo Rigondeaux deserves consideration but he has the capacity to be extremely boring . Ditto Andre Ward, of whom I’m a huge fan. Both need to learn how to put their foot on the accelerator and close the show.
Gareth A. Davies (boxing columnist for The Daily Telegraph)
It’s got to be Andre Ward, hands down. Ward’s longevity, unbeaten record and standing as a two weight world champion make him the inevitable choice.
What stands out so much about Ward – and I have covered many of his fights – is he’s the man with the key to unlock everyone else’s style.
When asked the question what does Ward have, you come up with this: innate fighting ability, extraordinary boxing IQ, an ability to shift patterns of a fight, extreme toughness (even dirty at times), and he has proven this against every style out there.
It might have been ‘Loma’ but his period as a professional does not match up to what Ward has achieved.
Barry Jones (BoxNation analyst)
Roman Gonzalez is my personal favourite to watch but, for me, Lomachenko is presently the best fighter in the world. I’ve never seen anyone like him. His angles and the movement he produces are from another world. It’s as if he puts his opponent on pause and then goes to work on them. Every opponent appears to be in slow motion by comparison.
On a skill level, (Guillermo) Rigondeaux might match him but ‘Loma’ is better to watch, far better offensively. Likewise, Andre Ward is brilliant – exceptionally hard to beat - but not brilliant to view.
People go on about Lomachenko’s inexperience but eight of his nine fights were for world titles and five were against former, current or future world champions. In that loss to Orlando Salido in his second fight, he was hit below the belt more than he was hit in the face and ‘Loma’ simply got ‘old manned’ because he had no (pro) apprenticeship. That’ll never happen again. Right now, the only thing that’ll beat him is size.
Richie Woodhall (BT analyst)
No, it’s still Floyd Mayweather. You could throw a bag of rice at him and none of it would land. He simply don’t get hit and that’s the true art of boxing.
He’s fought ‘em all, beat ‘em all. How the hell can you knock him? He could probably go on for another five years. I still think his reflexes are still good.
Andre Ward is close behind him for similar reasons. He’s also a lot, lot tougher physically than he’s given credit for, as he showed against Kessler, Froch and Kovalev.
Alex Steedman (BoxNation presenter)
Lomachenko is the best for me, just ahead of Gennady Golovkin.
I saw ‘Triple G’ thrash David Lemieux from ringside at Madison Square Garden in what was probably his career best performance. When he knows he’s destined to win, ‘GGG’ attacks recklessly but that night he clearly had respect for Lemieux’s power so completely dismantled him behind a dominant jab. He hardly took a punch. Andre Ward is also very good though his style is not for me.
But ‘Loma’ oozes a brilliance others don’t possess. His speed and movement are spell binding, even better than (Guillermo) Rigondeaux’s. I also love his attitude, that desire to prove himself against the best.
Watch Vasyl Lomachenko v Miguel Marriaga live on BoxNation on August 5th.