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Lomachenko Needs to Stay at 130 for Now

By Michael Montero: Ukrainian juggernaut Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko took care of business at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles Saturday night, dropping Colombian Miguel Marriaga twice before scoring a TKO7 win. It was another dominating performance from the WBO super featherweight titlist, now 9-1 (7KO), who really seems to be coming into his own as a pro. Almost instantly after referee Jack Reiss signaled that Marriaga’s corner had stopped the bout after the 7th round, fans around the world began asking what’s next for Hi-Tech.

This was the second card of the new deal between ESPN and promoter Top Rank. The first event, a welterweight title clash between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn in Australia, was a big success. This one was a little bumpy. The NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony ran late on ESPN, which pushed the boxing broadcast over to ESPN2. For were expecting to see a lightweight matchup between Raymundo Beltran and Bryan Vasquez begin around 10pm eastern time, yet they were seeing former NFL greats give emotional speeches upon entering the Hall of Fame. For those fans who did flip over to ESPN2, they saw a preliminary bout, not the scheduled TV opener. In fact, the Beltran-Vasquez bout, which was hardly a barnburner, didn’t begin until after the main event was supposed to take place at 11pm. After 10 less than scintillating rounds, Beltran improved to 34-7-1 (21KO), barely scraping by Vasquez with a majority decision win. Lomachenko-Marriaga did not being until well after midnight. These factors will most certainly affect TV ratings, which should be known in a few days.

Nonetheless, the Lomachenko train continues to steam ahead. Some fans are talking about a possible matchup with WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia; the two of them met only days ago and a video of the encounter got social media buzzing. However, it says here that a fight like that is at least a year away. Both Lomachenko and Garcia have plenty of work to do in their respective divisions. Too often these days fighters just up and down in weight without ever cleaning out a division. Garcia recently did just that in a one-off, brand building fight against Adrien Broner at 140lbs. No doubt the folks at Top Rank put Lomachenko and Beltran together on this card to possibly match them next at 135lbs. That would not only be a slap in the face to boxing fans, but go against Top Rank’s promise of “putting on the best match ups” as part of this ESPN deal.

Right now, the situation at 130lbs is scattered. Lomachenko has one title, Mexican Miguel Berchelt and Panamanian Jazreel Corrales, who both fought on an HBO card last month, each have one, as does American Gervonta Davis. Fights with Berchelt and Corrales would be make-able for Top Rank and Lomachenko, and further solidify his position as “the man” in the division. Travel ten pounds north and you see this scenario playing out between Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo, who will unify all the junior welterweight title belts in their upcoming bout. If Top Rank could get that deal done, and get the bout on ESPN, why can’t they do something similar for Hi-Tech?

Same goes for Mikey Garcia, who only has one fight at lightweight thus far, and has plenty left to prove in the division. Jorge Linares, who holds the RING/WBA titles, is seen by many as “the man” at 135lbs, and would pose a very interesting style match against Garcia. IBF titlist Robert Easter Jr fights under the same “Premier Boxing Champions” (PBC) banner as Garcia, that would be an easy fight to make and unify titles. There is plenty of business to be had for Team Garcia while building up a PPV bout with Lomachenko down the road.

So, let’s pump the breaks on a Garcia-Lomachenko fight for now and let each man set a legacy in their weight class first. The upcoming super fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin is a perfect example of a clash happening at the right time; that fight is much bigger now than it would have been 18 months ago.

Michael Montero can be found on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram via @MonteroOnBoxing

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