By Andreas Hale
Once again, Vasyl Lomachenko made his opponent look like a novice in the ring. And, once again, the talk about Lomachenko being the best pound for pound fighter in all of boxing has bubbled to the surface.
But is this talk premature given the lack of fights on Lomachenko’s resume and the fact that he does have a loss on his record?
What Lomachenko did against Jason Sosa was nothing short of the highest degree of outclassing an opponent that one can imagine. At least Sosa fought for as long as he could. Nicholas Walters, who was unbeaten heading into his fight with Lomachenko, was thoroughly embarrassed before quitting on the stool.
Lomachenko certainly looks like he is the most skilled boxer on the face of the planet. But are we giving him too much credit? Aside from Walters, the only high-level opponent he has defeated is Gary Russell Jr.
For as much grief that Gennady Golovkin has received, he has proven himself by remaining unbeaten and thoroughly dismantling his opposition. And when he was put in with a tough opponent, he prevailed. Andre Ward won a hotly contested decision against Sergey Kovalev, but it was against another top five pound for pound fighter.
But because of both the Ward-Kovalev and GGG-Jacobs fights being so close and the loss by Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, the top spot on the pound for pound lists is up for grabs. And, for many, Lomachenko’s scintillating performance against Jason Sosa sealed the deal. Bernard Hopkins was on commentary and quickly launched into how he thought Hi-Tech had hurdled the competition to the number one spot.
Not too many disagreed with him.
Bob Arum will tell anyone within an earshot that Lomachenko is the most skilled fighter the sport has seen since Muhammad Ali. Other boxing pundits shower him with praise and are bewildered by his talent. Everything from his punch placement to his footwork are deemed as otherworldly.
Vasyl Lomachenko doesn’t just beat his opponents, he ruins them. He’s fast, sharp and has a high boxing IQ. Since the Salido loss in his second professional fight, he’s figured out this pro boxing thing and has shed any and every remnant of amateur point fighting (unlike Guillermo Rigondeaux, who continues to bore fans no matter how good he is). He isn’t just good, he’s great. Perhaps he is on course to become one of the greatest boxers in recent history.
But this anointment as the best pound for pound fighter in boxing right now is, in fact, premature. Yes, he’s arguably the greatest amateur boxer of all-time. But that doesn’t mean much when considering whom the best pound for pound professional boxer is. He certainly passes the eye test as he completely picks apart his competition. But he did lose to Orlando Salido, despite all of the shortcuts Salido took to get the decision. That can’t be taken too lightly when you weigh Lomachenko’s resume against Andre Ward’s. Ward has yet to lose and has a pretty solid portfolio. Not to mention that he’s faced a pound for pound guy recently. Lomachenko hasn’t quite made it to that point yet.
It doesn’t mean that he won’t get there, but we should probably slow down.
With a possible Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia fight looming, we could get the perfect opponent that could launch Lomachenko right to the top of the P4P list should he defeat him as he’s done his last seven opponents. If he is willing to jump up another weight class, a fight with Terence Crawford could settle who is the best fighter in the world.
But those fights haven’t happened yet.
No matter what you thought of Ward and GGG’s performances, they both have more extensive resumes than Lomachenko. And Ward certainly has faced stiffer competition with his Super Six run, utter domination of Chad Dawson and come from behind victory over Kovalev. It would be very difficult to place Lomachenko above both Ward and Kovalev. For that matter, a leapfrog over Golovkin should be met with pause considering that GGG has a ridiculously high knockout percentage and has rampaged through the middleweight division in a fashion we haven’t seen in quite some time. Even Terence Crawford gets a slight nod over Lomachenko considering that he thoroughly outclassed Viktor Postol and wiped out Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was once considered a potential P4P fighter.
This isn’t a knock on Lomachenko. Instead, this is more of us wanting to see more so we can be comfortable with the decision to name him as the best fighter in the world. We’ve seen his ability and have been blown away. But the talent alone needs to be met with elite opposition.
Most of the boxing world believes that it is only a matter of time before he sits on the throne. But we should be a little more patient with the crowning of a new king.