Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Miguel Marriaga analysis & prediction
By Chris Williams: Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs) will be defending his WBO super featherweight title tonight against Colombian Miguel Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) in a fight that Top Rank hopes will take their champion’s career to the next level at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. This is NOT the fight the fans in the boxing world want to see for Lomachenko.
(Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)
They want to see him face Mikey Garcia or Guillermo Rigondeaux. The Garcia fight could be a year away, depending on how long depending on how long Lomachenko wants to drag it out before he moves up to lightweight and gets settled in.
”If it was only my decision, I’d fight two or three names on one night,” said Lomachenko by the LA Times.
Marriaga is next on deck for Lomachenko. It’s unclear whether this was Top Rank’s decision to stick Marriaga in there with Lomachenko or if it was his management who made the selection. It’s a strange one. Marriaga lost his last fight to Oscar Valdez, who Top Rank also promotes. The logical thing for Top Rank to have done would have been to have Valdez move up to super featherweight and take on Lomachenko instead of having the guy he just beat fight him. That would mean that Valdez or Lomachenko would be tarnished in losing the fight, and it doesn’t appear that Top Rank wants to do that. They’re going to keep those two fighters on separate paths. Those are two revenue streams for Top Rank. Putting them together would hurt the career of the loser, which would likely be Valdez. He didn’t look so great beating Marriaga on April 22. Marriaga hurt Valdez on 2 occasions in that fight.
The fight will be televised on ESPN, so there’s possibility that a lot of boxing fans will tune in to see it. There’s been some marketing of the Lomachenko vs. Marriaga fight, but I’s not a good enough match-up to attract a great deal of attention unfortunately. There’s a lesson here for Top Rank. When you scrimp on finding quality opposition your fighters, then the boxing fans won’t bother to tune in. This isn’t like the movie, ‘Field of Dreams’ with the “if we build it, they will come.” You’ve got to find good opposition for Lomachenko to fight, and that means guys that aren’t coming off defeats like Marriaga is in losing to the Top Rank promoted Oscar Valdez in his last fight on April 22. Lomachenko should be fighting Mikey Garcia, Guillermo Rigondeaux or Robert EasterJr. instead of Marriaga.
Lomachenko is the all-around better fighter than the 30-year-old Marriaga. We’re going to likely see that tonight.
The Lomachenko-Marriaga fight breaks down to these categories:
Speed: Advantage Lomachenko
Power: Marriaga takes this category. He’s the bigger puncher of the two, but that might not matter. If Marriaga can’t land his shots, then he might as well be the weaker guy of the two. Lomachenko has already shown that he can beat big punchers in the past in Roman “Rocky” Martinez, Jason Sosa, Nicholas Walters, Orlando Salido and Gary Russell Jr.
Boxing skills: Lomachenko has the far better boxing ability compared to Marriaga. It’s not even a question. Marriaga is just a slugger, who wins by knocking out his opposition.
Ring IQ” This is another area for Lomachenko. He’s a smart fighter with a lot of amateur experience and 2 Olympic gold medals.
Experience: Despite only having just 8 fights, Lomachenko has the superior experience at the pro level. With a massive amount of amateur fights under his belt, Lomachenko has the advantage in experience.
Mobility: Lomachenko is more mobile than Marriaga.
Size: Lomachenko will be the heavier fighter of the two. Marriaga is coming up in weight from the featherweight division.
Marriaga has a puncher’s chance of beating Lomachenko
Marriaga has a puncher’s chance of beating Lomachenko tonight. I don’t see Marriaga being able to land a big enough shot for him to be able to get the win in this fight. It’s going to be hard enough as it is for Marriaga to land anything in this fight. But if he decides to swing for the fences with every punch he throws, he’s going to be whiffing frequently and looking like an amateur. What’s worrisome about his fight is Marriaga took a lot of punishment in his loss to Oscar Valdez on April 22. That was 4 months ago. It’s a fast turnaround for Marriaga to be going into a tough fight against Lomachenko after such a grueling fight like the one he went through against Valdez. Lomachenko is getting another well beaten opponent with him fighting Marriaga. Last year in June, Lomachenko fought Roman Martinez. The timing of that fight was a bad one for Martinez, as he was coming off of back to back punishing fights against Orlando Salido. The last thing that Martinez needed after those two fights was to be inside the ring with Lomachenko.
I see Lomachenko knocking out Marriaga by the 8th round tonight. If Marriaga was fresh and not coming off of a hard fight against Valdez, then I think he could potentially go the full 12 round distance with Lomachenko. The timing of the fight is terrible. Top Rank was smart to pick a guy that just went through a really hard fight 4 months ago to stick in the ring with Lomacenko. I don’t think it’s a great fight for the boxing fans to see Lomachenko fight a featherweight coming off a beating at the hands of Valdez, but that’s how things are done in boxing. Match-making is often done to get an edge over opponents. It’s not like other sports where you should play certain teams at a given time, and you can’t plan on playing them after they’ve lost their last game and been worn down.
It would have been nice if Top Rank had selected someone from the super featherweight division for Lomachenko to defend his title against.
”[ESPN] is giving this more publicity than a major college football game,” said Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank to the latimes.com. ”They’re treating it like the major sport we’ve always believed it is.”
The fight is still a bad one, and I have doubts that it’s going to bring in a lot of viewers despite being on ESPN. Lomachenko is not the type of name that ESPN fans will take notice during the advertisements for the fight. He’s not a big name, and his opponent Marriaga is totally obscure. I’d venture to guess that the average ESPN viewer tune out the Lomachenko-Marriaga commercials and instead go for refreshments or flip the channel. They might as well be advertising golf. It’s not a great fight. It’s a mismatch, and when you have fights that are not seen as competitive, then they don’t end to do well.
Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, would give Lomachenko his best bet for a compelling fight after he gets done with tonight’s mismatch against Marriaga. There are a lot of boxing fans that have waited for ages to see Lomachenko fight the 36-year-old Rigondeaux. It’s just too bad that the fight didn’t take place 3 years ago when Lomachenko was still fighting at featherweight. That division is just 4 lbs. above the super bantamweight division where Rigondeaux currently fights. But, Lomachenko is now fighting at super featherweight, and he’s shown no willingness to meet Rigondeaux halfway between 122 and 130. Lomachenko has made it clear to Rigondeaux. If he wants a fight against him, he’ll need to move up all the way to 130 lbs. for that to become a reality. 8 lbs. are a lot of weight to move up when you only weight 122 like Rigondeaux. I want to see the Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight, as do a lot of boxing fans, but it’s tilted in Lomachenko’s favor with the weight. What we may see is Lomachenko winning the fight based on his weight advantage rather than his skills. I would be shocked if Rigondeaux still wins. That would make news all around the boxing world. Top Rank would need to hit the reset button on Lomachenko’s career after a loss like that.
Mikey Garcia is very interested in getting Lomachenko into the ring. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pull the strings in Lomachenko’s career. That’s done by Top Rank, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll take any risks in putting him in with Garcia anytime soon. They might make the match many years from now after Lomachenko is over-the-hill, and only a handful of boxing fans still care to see him fight Garcia.
”This fight could be on pay-per-view because eall the fans have been asking for it,” said Garcia to the LA Times about the Lomachenko fight. ”We’re the main names. No other names can generate that kind of attention. I’m more than happy to work at it.”
I think Garcia is showing his youth and naivety in failing to realize that the Lomachenko fight is not going to happen. Believe me; Garcia would be the first one to know if Top Rank wanted the Lomachenko-Garcia fight. They would try to make that fight. But with the head honcho Bob Arum not talking about the fight; it’s obvious that Garcia is not in the cards for Lomachenko in the future. I think Top Rank would be willing to match Terence Crawford against Garcia, but not Lomachenko. Garcia needs to forget about Lomachenko and just do what must do to make his own career. He’s not going to get a fight against Lomachenko. Garcia has enough talent to unify the lightweight division. If he moves up to 140 now, he’ll be pressured to fight Terence Crawford by the boxing fans.