There is a lot of speculation on who will fight for the next Manny Pacquiao and that man may be Vasiliy Lomachenko. The undefeated boxer had to do very little in his career, but was able to get an opportunity to face someone other than Guillermo Rigondeaux because he could not secure another opponent with equal weight class ability. Will the Ukrainian give George Kambosos Jr., hell?
The “teofimo lopez vs lomachenko” is a fight that could be the start of a new era in boxing.
1:00 a.m. ET
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger
Vasiliy Lomachenko was on the brink of a statement victory on Saturday, the type of performance that would earn him a crack at the undisputed lightweight title.
Lomachenko didn’t try for the finish after flooring Richard Commey in the seventh round of their lightweight contest at Madison Square Garden in New York. He appealed with his opponent’s team to call a halt to the fight.
Lomachenko was denied a TKO victory as a result of the tactic, and he had to settle for a decision victory in which he cruised down the stretch.
Yes, Lomachenko was the clear winner. He was in classic form, using angles, feints, and slick movement to go past Commey and confuse the former champion. Was it, however, the kind of thrilling win that would entice fans to demand a rematch with George Kambosos Jr. for all four lightweight titles?
Lomachenko, the No. 8 pound-for-pound fighter on ESPN, stated, “I need this opportunity [for the undisputed crown].” “I’ll fight [Kambosos] anywhere I have to go… I need all four titles.”
Instead, Lomachenko is expected to be thrown into a ring with Devin Haney, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, and maybe even Ryan Garcia for a shot at the next lightweight king. It’s difficult to choose a favorite among Haney, Tank, and Lomachenko, who all competed within eight days of each other.
Lomachenko won by the most lopsided margin, yet he was up against the weakest competition of the four. (Isaac Cruz, an inexperienced but gifted player, pushed Davis to the limit.)
Richard Commey was knocked down in Round 7 by Vasiliy Lomachenko, but he was let off the hook. Getty Images/Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc
Kambosos, 28, has stipulated that anyone he defends his title against next must do it in his homeland of Australia, where he was greeted as a hero earlier this week.
After defeating Teofimo Lopez two weeks ago to unify the titles, Kambosos suffered a hectic tour of scouting missions before flying back to Sydney. A week later, he was at ringside for Haney’s decision win against Joseph “JoJo” Diaz. He was in Los Angeles the next day for Davis’ tougher-than-expected victory against Cruz.
All of the best lightweights will be vying for the Kambosos spot, but the champion will have the last say. He’s always said he’d choose the lightweight who impressed him the best, and Lomachenko now has a strong case.
Davis and Garcia are the most well-known lightweights in the United States, but Lomachenko is unquestionably more well-known internationally. The raucous “Loma” chants that began before the bell Saturday were another evidence of his star power and commercial appeal, which might help Lomachenko and Top Rank attract Kambosos with a bigger cash offer. Lou DiBella, who just teamed with Bob Arum for the Commey fight and has a history of dealing with Top Rank, is promoting Kambosos, who is a network free agent.
Whatever Lomachenko does next, he’s not interested in the scheduled fight with 130-pound champion Shakur Stevenson, according to Arum.
“I have a desire, a goal: to be the undisputed lightweight champion,” Lomachenko stated. “As a result, I’ll remain at 135 and continue my career.”
In October, Shakur Stevenson fought Jamel Herring to win the WBO junior lightweight world championship. Getty Images/By Brandon Magnus
Stevenson had a different opinion on what Lomachenko should be aiming for at 33 years old.
“If Lomachenko faces Kambosos next week, nine out of ten people will choose Lomachenko to win… because stylistically, we know Lomachenko is superior than Kambosos,” Stevenson said on ESPN. “However, if he battles me, some people will bet on him to win, while others will bet on me to win.” It’s more or less a 50-50 battle.
“He was given the opportunity to win all of the belts. I believe that at this stage in his career, he should be searching for big-money bouts to earn the most money possible, since he won’t be fighting forever.”
Lomachenko claimed on Thursday that his defeat to Lopez had re-energized him in the ring. The two-time Olympic gold medallist from Ukraine revealed that he thought he could defeat Lopez with “one arm,” referring to his damaged rotator cuff.
In a June thrashing of Masayoshi Nakatani, Lomachenko looked like his old self, having had his shoulder surgically repaired and felt 100 percent healthy. Lomachenko looked just as good against Commey, a far more experienced fighter than Nakatani, short of a TKO.
Lomachenko came into the battle against Lopez as the undisputed greatest 135-pounder in the world. His combination of speed, precise precision, and amazing boxing intelligence propelled him to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings. Following his loss against Lopez and now two clear victories, he seems to be the most gifted lightweight in the sport once again. He isn’t, however, the champion. He might find himself in the catbird position for a crack at Kambosos and, more crucially, all of the belts the Aussie has after another great victory.
On Nov. 27, George Kambosos Jr., right, defeated Teofimo Lopez in one of the year’s greatest surprises. Matchroom/Ed Mulholland
We’ll seldom get a greater chance to examine the scene than when four lightweight contests are crammed into 15 days. It’s difficult to imagine anybody upsetting Lomachenko right now, especially after his impressive play against Commey.
Kambosos slipped past Lopez, while Haney was put to the test late by Diaz. Against Cruz, the long-odds underdog, Davis was the least remarkable of the six. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Kambosos was facing his toughest opponent yet, and Haney was facing his finest opponent yet. For the most of the battle, Davis fought with an injured left hand.
Lomachenko, too, did not come out unharmed. Commey landed a number of hard body blows on him, as well as a couple of effective counter strikes to the face. He did, however, outland Commey 248 to 73 in the end.
During this time, no other lightweight could match that level of domination. Now it’s up to Top Rank and Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager, to deliver for him. And if it isn’t Kambosos, Lomachenko still has a lot of interesting battles ahead of him. There’s the Stevenson fight, which he doesn’t seem to be interested in right now, but without the Kambosos fight, it may become extremely appealing.
Fights with Haney, Garcia, and Davis are among the most high-profile bouts in the sport. A victory against any of those three would push him one step closer to achieving his ultimate objective of earning the uncontested title. And, as Stevenson predicted, those matches would net him a lot of cash.
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