Ukrainian lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, who has been dubbed the best pound-for-pound fighter in the amateur ranks, did no more than he needed to advance to the semi-finals of the Olympic boxing competition on Monday.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic featherweight champion defeated Puerto Rican Felix Verdejo 14-9 in the first quarter-final of the evening, advancing throughout the three rounds and scoring to both the head and body.
Lomachenko, a world and European champion who presents a tiny Ukrainian flag to each of his opponents before his bouts, lives in the ancient fortress town of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky near Odessa.
He is an ice hockey fanatic who is coached by his father Anatoly, a physical education school teacher, and won his first Ukrainian championship at the age of 17 after resolving when he was six years old that he wanted to be an Olympic champion.
The dynamic Lomachenko was tested in his quarterfinal bout with Verdejo, who constantly moved forward to challenge the two-time world champion. Verdejo's aggression forced Lomachenko to show off his defense, reflexes and stunning footwork, and it all added up to another comfortable win for the Beijing Olympics' best boxer.
Verdejo still scored more points than Lomachenko allowed in any of his five dominant victories in Beijing, although the amateur scoring system has since been altered in ways that encourage higher scores.
"I fought a good fight against a top-notch fighter," Verdejo said. "I hope this experience will help me grow as a fighter."