Russell Jr wants rematch with Lomachenko
By Allan Fox: #1 WBO Gary Russell Jr (24-1, 14 KO’s) gave a good effort but came up empty-handed last night in losing to a bigger, stronger and more experienced fighter in Vasyl Lomachenko (2-1, 1 KO’s) in losing a 12 round majority decision for their scrap for the vacant WBO featherweight belt at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Lomachenko, 26, isn’t more experienced as a pro, but with his 397 amateur fights and two Olympic gold medals under his belt, he was too polished a fighter for Russell Jr to deal with, especially with the type of soft opponents that Russell Jr had been matched against in his fights before last night’s bout. Lomachenko had a record of 396-1 as an amateur, and he clearly was the real deal coming into last night’s fight.
The judges scored it 114-114, 116-112, and 116-112 in giving Lomachenko a 12 round majority decision. Russell Jr should feel grateful that it was scored that closely because you can make an argument that it should have been a little more lopsided than that.
After the fight, Russell Jr expressed the desire to fight Lomachenko again, saying “I would definitely fight him again, anytime, anyplace.’’
That’s obviously not going to happen. Golden Boy Promotions won’t take the risk of messing up Russell Jr’s career by matching him against Lomachenko a second time, because from what we saw last night, Russell Jr, 5’4”, doesn’t have the size to compete with the 5’6 ½” Lomachenko, and he doesn’t have the power either. Lomachenko is just a far stronger puncher, and a better body puncher.
Russell Jr said “It was a fair decision. It’s disappointing to lose, but we’re warriors and we will go back to the drawing board. He had real good lateral movement, we tried to close the distance with the jab but he was moving well. I tip my hat to him. My past opponents have no bearing on this fight. I need to execute better going forward. I don’t think he’s better than me, we knew he was going to use the lateral movement. Honestly we didn’t execute the game plan. We wanted to close the distance between the double and triple jabs but I couldn’t get to him as easily as I wanted to.”
It wasn’t so much the movement that bothered Russell Jr; it was more of a case of him not being able to land his shots because of Lomachenko blocking them with his gloves. The Ukrainian fighter did a great job of picking off many of Russell Jr’s blistering fast combinations on his gloves and then firing back with hard single shots to the head and body. Had Lomachenko not moved as much as he did last night, he likely would have knocked Russell Jr out because it would have given him more of a chance of unloading on his big power shots to get him out of there.
“I am very happy and excited to be a world champion,’’ the physically strong and talented Lomachenko said. “I want to thank all the fans that came here to support me from Ukraine. To join the Klitschkos as a champion from Ukraine, I would like to thank them. The plan built by our team was great, I was trying to land the punches and I did. I landed punches very well. I started from the body and went to the head.’’