By Francisco Salazar
LOS ANGELES - 'Hi-Tech'? More like 'Seek and Destroy.'
Vasyl Lomachenko is as technical and gifted as anyone in the sport, possibly the best. But he does have that mean streak in him.
It was evident again Saturday night before an announced crowd of 4,102 at the Microsoft Theatre. Lomachenko beat, battered, and bruised Marriaga for seven one-sided rounds, dropping him twice before the fight was mercifully stopped.
Lomachenko, who successfully defended his WBO junior lightweight title, improves to 9-1, with 7 knockouts. Marriaga will return to Colombia with a record of 25-2, with 20 KOs.
The way the action played out, it seemed like the fight was over when the contracts were signed. But to Top Rank, tonight's fight was more of a showcase for Lomachenko, considering the fight aired on ESPN.
And why not?
Lomachenko is one of the top fighters in boxing today, even some scribes and fans rate the Ukraine fighter as the best in boxing.
Marriaga, who was ranked number 10 by the WBO, last fought on Apr. 22, losing a unanimous decision to WBO featherweight titleholder Oscar Valdez.
From the opening bell, it was all Lomachenko. As the southpaw Lomachenko cemented control of the fight, the thought was not how, but when would Lomachenko stop Marriaga.
Lomachenko dropped Marriaga with a left hand to the head near the end of the third round. As if Marriaga was not embarrassed by getting knocked down, Lomachenko backed into a corner, motioning for Marriaga to attack him.
It may have been a punk move by Lomachenko, but then again, he is entertainer just as much as he is a boxer. He understands the value of having the boxing universe get a kick out of something, even if it may lack sportsmanship.
With each passing round, Marriaga looked more the defeated fighter. The confidence he had when he took the fight to Valdez just three and a half months earlier was not there.
Sensing this, Lomachenko walked down Marriaga, pressing the fight and landing at will. Marriaga had nowhere to go, backing up against the ropes and holding on for dear-life.
The end came at the end of round seven, as Lomachenko sent Marriaga to the canvas with a sweeping left hand. Marriaga beat the count, but his corner told referee Jack Reiss to stop the fight during the seventh and eighth rounds.
Lomachenko has expressed a strong desire at unifying all the world title belts at 130 pounds. That is something he wants before he himself could say he is the best fighter in boxing.
However, there is a possibility of Lomachenko facing Mikey Garcia, should Garcia drop down to 135 pounds and a fight against Jorge Linares cannot be secured.
Both Garcia and Lomachenko met each other on Thursday and seemed to have a gentleman's agreement of one day facing each other.
Could that come on Dec. 9 or 23, the day Bob Arum said Lomachenko will return to the ring? Who knows, but it seems like boxing fans like that fight.
In the co-feature bout, Ray Beltran won a 10 round unanimous decision over former interim 130-pound titleholder Bryan Vasquez.
With the win, Beltran improves to 34-7-1 1 NC, with 21 KOs. Vasquez falls to 36-3, with 19 KOs.
It was a crossroads fight between two boxer-punchers, one of whom has been more active than the other.
Beltran last fought on May 20, when he scored a highlight-reel second round knockout victory over Jonathan Maicelo in New York City. Vasquez, from San Jose, Costa Rica, had not fought in over 13 months.
The physically-bigger Beltran mostly worked from the center of the ring as Vasquez looked to score with multiple combinations on the inside. It took a few rounds, but by the midway point of the fight, Beltran began to consistently get his timing down, scoring with repeated left hooks to the head of Vasquez.
The pace of the fight slowed during the second half of the fight, as Beltran had built a comfortable lead over Vasquez.
An inadvertent clash of heads opened a cut along the right eyebrow of Beltran during the ninth round. However, Beltran looked like he was hurt during the final moments of the 10th round as Vasquez pressed the action.
One judge scored the bout 95-95, while the other two judges scored the bout 96-94 for Beltran. Boxingscene.com scored the bout 98-92 in favor of Beltran.
"My goal is to win - doesn't matter by decision or by knockout," said Beltran after the fight. "He can take a punch. I only thought I lost the last round."
"I came up in weight," said Vasquez. "No one said I had a chance to win. My plan was to beat Beltran and then fight Lomachenko. I felt I won the fight."
Beltran is ranked number two by the WBC and the WBA. It would interesting to see whether he waits for either WBC titleholder Mikey Garcia or WBA titleholder Jorge Linares.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing