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Lomachenko-Sosa, Gvozdyk-Gonzalez & Usyk-Hunter tonight

Vasiliy Lomachenko

By Allan Fox: WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko is fighting tonight against Jason Sosa at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) was originally hoping to fight Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs) in a unification fight, but instead the fighter from Camden, New Jersey vacated his WBA title. Lomachenko will be fighting the 29-year-old Sosa with just his own WBO title on the line tonight.

This is disappointing for him, because he wanted to unify all the belts. Lomachenko, 29, realizes that he’s not going to be able to do that in this division in a timely manner. So he plans on moving up to lightweight to look for big fights in that division. One of the fights that Lomachenko has his eyes on is a match against WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. There would be a huge amount of interest from the boxing public in that fight.

“Yes, I’m very disappointed because I came to unify titles,” Lomachenko said to espn.com. “I came to show who is a real champion. I couldn’t do that at 126, so I moved to 130. Looks like 130, same thing — people are not fighting, so I will have to move forward. I am preparing for my name to be in history. I am trying with every single fight, every preparation just to get better.”

It would be a mistake on Lomachenko’s part for him to remain at 130, waiting and hoping he can get the other 3 champions to fight him in this weight class. Lomachenko could probably unify all the titles in the same way middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin has slowly been doing over the years, but it would likely eat up a lot of time in his career. It’s not worth it for fighters like Lomachenko to slow his career down to try and unify titles, because it takes too long.

The other champions aren’t interested in taking risky fights. Many champions are content with milking their titles making easy title defenses are soft opposition carefully picked out for them. Besides that, it no longer means as much to be a champion in boxing due to the watered down divisions. The important thing is for fighters to make the best possible fights.

Tonight’s fight between Lomachenko and Sosa will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. This particular fight might not be a great one, but there are some interesting undercard fights that should make it entertaining for the boxing fans that tune in. The best part about tonight’s card is that it’s on regular HBO rather than on PPV.

Lomachenko captured 2 Olympic medals for Ukraine in 2008 and 2012. He probably should have turned pro after winning the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, because he’d much further along in his pro career. Winning a second gold medal against fighters much younger than him might not have been the best use of Lomachenko’s time. He could have been making a lot of money in those 4 years that he spent in the amateur system. At any rate, Lomachenko finished his amateur career with a phenomenal record of 396-1.

“Only problem I have with Lomachenko is convincing him the opponent creates a challenge,” said Bob Arum, the promoter for Lomachenko, to espn.com. He argues with me — ‘Why should I fight him? It’s no challenge.’ We told him Sosa is the kind of the guy who bulls forward, not going to quit, going to press him and make a very impressive fight.”

In hindsight, it might have been better off if Arum had found Lomachenko a better opponent than Sosa. This is going to be target practice tonight for Lomachenko. The boxing fans need to see Lomachenko fighting highly skilled guys like Jezreel Corrales, Miguel Berchelt, Gervonte Davis or Takashi Miura. Orlando Salido would have been perfect for Lomachenko, because the Mexican fighter already beat him by a 12 round split decision 3 years ago in 2014. Getting Salido to fight Lomachenko would have taken a lot of money, and it’s unclear whether Top Rank would be able to come up with the money that he would have wanted for the fight. Moving up to lightweight could solve a lot of Arum and Lomachenko’s problems in finding suitable opposition.

Lomachenko would have a good chance of unifying all the titles in that lightweight division if he’s willing to stay there for a year or two to accomplish that task. It’s unclear whether Lomachenko will bother going up to 140. I think that might be a step too far for him. You’ve got fighters in that division like Terence Crawford, who rehydrates to the mid-150s. That would be really hard for Lomachenko to fight someone that is 20 lbs. heavier than him like Crawford unless he can put on some weight.

Sosa will definitely bull ahead like Arum mentioned, but it’s likely going to be a bad mismatch. In terms of entertainment, the undercard fights might be the best bet for the boxing fans to enjoy good fights.

WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (11-0, 10 KOs) will be putting his unbeaten record and his title on the line against 2012 U.S Olympian Michael Hunter (12-0, 8 KOs). Usyk could be the next big star in the U.S. He’s got talent, the personality and the power to become a star. Usyk won a gold medal for Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics. This fight should be the co-feature bout, but it’s not. 175lb contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk (12-0, 10 KOs) will be in the co-feature bout fighting Yunieski Gonzalez (18-2, 14 KOs). This fight is going to be real fun to watch. Both guys are huge punchers. Hunter has a real chance of winning it.

Gvozdyk won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics for Ukraine. He’s not the talent that Usyk is in my opinion, but he’s still a very good fighter. Gvozdyk could one day capture a world title once Adonis Stevenson ages more or retires. I don’t think Gvozdyk has the taken to beat Stevenson right now. It would be a bad idea for Top Rank to make that fight right now because he still has too much left in the tank.




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