By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Bob Arum has raved about Vasiliy Lomachenko’s skills ever since his promotional company signed Lomachenko nearly five years ago.
The hyperbole-prone promoter has told anyone who would listen that the unique Ukrainian is the most skillful fighter his company has worked with since the late, great Muhammad Ali. Arum admits Lomachenko demonstrated something Saturday night, though, that the three-division champion hadn’t proven until then.
According to Arum, getting off the canvas in the sixth round to knock out Jorge Linares showed Lomachenko’s toughness when faced with adversity during a difficult fight. Linares’ straight right sent Lomachenko to the canvas for the first time in his pro career, with 31 seconds to go in the sixth round.
The 30-year-old Lomachenko got right to his feet and mostly moved away from Linares until that round ended. He spent the next three-plus rounds battling Linares until his perfectly placed left hook to the liver left Linares on one knee and unable to continue in the 10th round at Madison Square Garden.
“Everybody always knew what a great talent he is, but he showed he’s a real fighter,” Arum said. “You know, definitely the best guy he ever fought, a much bigger guy, who knows how to fight, who wasn’t gonna quit, who was gonna go out on his shield, and Loma stood up to him and showed what a fighter he is. … And to knock him out with a body shot, like he did, was tremendous.”
Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) won an eighth straight bout by knockout or technical knockout and took the WBA world lightweight title from Venezuela’s Linares (44-4, 27 KOs).
An impressed Arum anticipates Lomachenko’s performance earning him credibility, particularly among those that haven’t been sold on Lomachenko’s prominent position among the top boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
“I think it really elevates him,” Arum said. “People will now say that he’s a fighter. And frankly, guys at lightweight and above are saying tonight, ‘Well, I’ll go in [with him]. He’s not Superman.’ ”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.