Vasyl Lomachenko is a boxer like no other
By Rishad Marquardt: On August 5, 2017, the Ukrainian WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko put on a boxing display with such a high degree of skill, he simply made his resolute Colombian opponent, Miguel Marriaga, look like an amateur out of his depths. By the time Marriaga’s corner raised the ‘no mas’ white flag, the contest had become laughably one sided. The bout was akin to a child armed with a water pistol in a gunfight against Jesse James in the flesh.
As Vasyl racks up more and more victories, he looks less and less concerned with what his opponents are bringing to the table, and he is winning with more and more confidence each time. Stepping into the ring, he doesn’t look like he believes he is better than his opponent, he looks like he knows he is. He even looks like he knows his opponents know, and if they don’t, within a couple of rounds they all end up finding out first hand.
So much of Vasyl’s work on Saturday night was nothing short of outstanding. Papa Vasyl made his son learn the traditional Ukrainian dance form, Hopak, to strengthen his footwork as a child and now, two decades on, that measure is clearly paying dividends. Vasyl has sonic punching speed and mechanical punch volume to go with impeccable timing and accuracy. His upper body speed and agility make his blows tricky to evade and enable him to throw punches from a wide degree of angles.
Now, an upper-body with that physical prowess and skill-set mounted on an ordinary set of legs would be enough to constitute championship material in most circumstances. But mounted on Vasyl’s legs gives him antelope-like strength and agility to prance around at will, hitting, evading, hitting, evading. As the fight progressed, Marriaga began to look like a frightened boy in a haunted house, scared of his own shadow. Sure, Marriaga was present and did his best to not make it easy, but the balance of power between the two in that ring was of feudal proportions; master against serf.
At the moment, anyone who is less than great is going to end up being embarrassed by Lomachenko. Right now, he needs to fight the absolute cream of the crop to suppress any doubts anyone has of him and to crystallize his status as being untouchable. Lomachenko doesn’t possess ironclad punching power, that’s not his game. He breaks down his opponent’s bit-by-bit, eating away at them physically and mentally, one bite at a time. So then what would happen if he were to come up against a well-schooled boxer who employs tactics to disrupt Team Hi-Tech’s strategy? Rhythm is a big part of Lomachenko’s game and if a fighter can stop that rhythm, how would Hi-tech respond? We already saw Salido do this to him but that – Vasyl’s sole defeat in his second professional fight – was, in hindsight, surely a blessing in disguise for the young man. He has learned a lot from that defeat and his resolve as a consequence seems unbreakable at this point in time. Is he going to let that happen again? That can only be answered by those brave enough to test him out.
The journey Vasyl Lomachenko is embarking on bares the watermarks of greatness. In a recent interview, Anthony Joshua spoke of what it means to be a great fighter. He said it’s not just about getting the win, it’s how you get the win. This is a mantra that all fight fans would implore all fighters to uphold. Vasyl is a fighter who does not want just to win, but to win beautifully and win with absolute and unforgiving dominance. His fight on Saturday was as totalitarian as a professional sporting match-up could be. How well he would fare in a test against a Mikey Garcia or a Jorge Linares remains to be seen. For now, he is unquestionably one of the most exciting boxers on the planet, and is fast instating himself as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.