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Vasyl Lomachenko – A Small Fight

Orlando Salido Vasiliy Lomachenko(Photo credit: Chris Farina/Top Rank) By Marc Livitz: Two representations of Olympic glory are represented across the inner arms of Vasyl Lomachenko in the form of momentous tattoos. The two time gold medalist from Ukraine holds a mind boggling 98% win tally in regard to his amateur career, which is a figure made so much more astounding when his overall record of 396 wins and one loss is considered. On Saturday night, Lomachenko will find himself at the doorstep of opportunity when he faces Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight title at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX.

Many across the boxing spectrum, which encompasses not only fans of the sport but the self proclaimed pugilistic intelligentsia as well have pointed with utmost disdain at the fact that Vasyl has but one professional bout to his credit. Let’s not judge with such a harsh frame of mind, as Lomachenko may be the greatest amateur fighter in history.

Call it a good eye perhaps on the part of Top Rank Promotions. Orlando Salido is far beyond a great measuring stick. Recall that he is the fighter who twice knocked out the previously unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez. “Siri” Salido has the up and down type of record (40-12-2, 28 knockouts) that can send up flashing red lights for those who are unprepared for such a hardnosed Mexican veteran slugger. Just ask Abner Mares to verify such a statement. He ran into a set of “fifty five up and eight down” Chilango fists last year in the form of Jhonny Gonzalez.

Regardless of where we stand on the argument pertaining to Lomachenko’s championship pedigree or lack thereof, there can be no mistake of another, altogether more pressing and dire matter. Vasyl’s home country is practically in flames. Since November of last year, thousands upon thousands of protestors have taken to the streets.

Many were beyond fed up with ousted president Viktor Yanukovych being played like a grand piano by the hard lined Russian government. He was eventually forced to flee Ukraine and has since resurfaced in Russia and although he has been replaced by Olexander Turchynov (who at least has given hope of eventual membership in the European Union), Yanukovych still insists that he is the rightful president. Freedom of the press is largely nonexistent, as are many other basic liberties that most of us take for granted. Lomachenko is not the only one with his homeland on his mind. Some of us have seen the comings and goings of Vitali Klitschko in and around Kiev and other locales.

The turmoil is continuing right now, so perhaps a world title won by Vasyl Lomachenko could be a flicker of light across the gloom in eastern Europe. There are not many of us who have ever experienced such frightening episodes in our respective lives. Some of us let the trivial matters in life (sports, gossip, etc.) interfere in our everyday lives and we have no sense of what real hunger (i.e., “I’m starving because I skipped breakfast”), lack of basic sanitation or electricity really does to the human psyche. At today’s final press conference in San Antonio, Lomachenko was a man of few words in the lead up to the co-main event of the card which culminates in a 168 pound (maybe) rematch between Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Brian Vera. Vasyl graciously thanked the city of San Antonio and wished good luck and health to all of the evening’s combatants. Even perhaps as an individual of privilege in an area of the world where the iron curtain still exists in some form, “Hi Tech” Lomachenko will still likely prefer bombs thrown in the ring to those in the city streets. We can all learn something from such humility.


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