by Cliff Rold
Vasyl Lomachenko is what he’s advertised to be. Even the most cynical fight fan has to see it. On a night when he had the sort of aggressive opponent who could make him look good, he lived up to and excelled his billing.
He put on a show.
In a performance reminiscent of Roy Jones once upon his time, in form if not style, Lomachenko took a fighter who is competitive with most of the class, a fighter who came trying to find a way to win, and completely undressed him.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Lomachenko A; Sosa B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power –Lomachenko B+; Sosa B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Lomachenko A; Sosa B/Post: A+; C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Lomachenko A; Sosa B+/Post: A; B
There might still be some naysayers. Lomachenko still has an unavenged loss on his record to Orlando Salido. Despite a high stoppage percentage, he’s more death by one thousand cuts than knockout artist.
It would be nitpicking and wrong.
He gets the job done with an arsenal that is a beauty to behold. His footwork and feints might be the best in boxing right now. He changes speeds in combination, touching guys to open up hard finishes to combinations. He goes to the body with mustard.
And when he does get caught, he seems to handle it fine.
He doesn’t get caught often and almost never more than once off. Lomachenko seems to see punches coming before they’re thrown sometimes, able to pick them off, spin around a foe, and be in position to launch. He’s grown as a professional in each fight, sitting down on his shots more with each fight and staying in the pocket where he should be able to be hit.
Sosa will find other men easier targets. He’ll have his chances to win again but that wasn’t ever going to happen Saturday. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the current field at 130 lbs. doing much better and Lomachenko is already talking about moving up. Before he does, it would be nice if he settled the blemish with Salido.
And when that’s done, or if it doesn’t get done, the calls from boxing fans to see fights like Lomachenko-Mikey Garcia or Jorge Linares can go ahead and get louder. There may be political obstacles but there is nothing that should make anyone think Lomachenko isn’t ready.
There is no one at 130 or 135 lbs. he isn’t ready for.
Report Card and Staff Picks 2017: 9-6 (including Usyk-Hunter and Flanagan-Petrov picks)
The accuracy of Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Saturday was as impressive as his power. He didn’t just hurt Yunieski Gonzalez. He knew how to finish. He’s a serious contender at 175…Contrast that with cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk. He’s also often accurate, particularly inside, but when he hurt Michael Hunter on Saturday, there were several spots where he got a little sloppy going for the finish. It wasn’t as much the case in the final round where he hit Hunter with everything he had. Kudos to the gutsy Hunter for staying on his feet. That was a fun fight. Usyk, after his last two, looks more unfinished than he did early on but he’s getting valuable rounds and it will be interesting to see where he is at full peak. He may not be the long-term threat at heavyweight he looked like he might be early on but he’s going to make some real theatre at cruiserweight…Haven’t seen the Flanagan-Petrov fight but there were some loud expressions of disdain for the single shutout card. The pre-fight report card guessed there could be some scoring issues. By all accounts, the right man still won.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]