Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jose Pedraza – post-fight press conference quotes
By Chris Williams: WBA Super World lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) looked well beaten after defeating WBO 135 lb champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. One of the biggest takeaways from the Lomachenko-Pedraza post-fight news conference was Pedraza’s revelation that Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) is a guy with superior punching power to the 30-year-old Lomachenko. Many boxing fans already knew this, but it was interesting to hear Pedraza admit that Davis’ punching power is on another level to Lomachenko.
Lomachenko defeated Pedraza by the scores 117-109, 119-107 and 117-109 in their fight on ESPN. Lomachenko scored two knockdowns in the 11th, but he was unable to put the 29-year-old Pedraza away.
“Lomachenko is a fighter that breaks down his opponents little by little, and I believe that [Gervonta] Davis is a fighter that can knock out someone with just one punch,” Pedraa said.
With the 200+ shots that Lomachenko landed in the fight last Saturday night, he STILL couldn’t knockout Pedraza. It’s unknown whether Lomachenko’s arms are too short, hands are too brittle or perhaps he left his punching power behind him when he moved up from super featherweight to lightweight. Lomachenko started out his pro career in 2013 at featherweight, and he’s been moving up in weight ever since. In looking at Lomachenko’s resume, he was scoring more actual knockouts when he was fighting at 126 compared to at 130 and 135.
Lomachenko did a good job of using his high volume punching to get his opponents to quit when he was fighting at super featherweight, but he wasn’t hurting them with his punches. He was just hitting them so many times that they would literally quit out of frustration. It was a combination of Lomachenko’s volume punching and his impeccable defense that resulted in his opponents quitting. Davis’ knockouts have been limit textbook KOs in which he would hit them with monstrous shots, and they would go down from the concussive force of his punches. That’s what makes Davis so dangerous. He can be in there with someone that is doing well against him, and he can change the fight in an instant with a single shot.
“Lomachenko. Definitely,” Pedraza said when asked whether Lomachenko is the better fighter than Gervonta.
If you go by the results of the Davis-Pedraza and Lomachenko-Davis fights, you have to conclude that Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) is the better fighter than Lomachenko. Davis did a much better job defeating Pedraza than Lomachenko did. That’s not an insult of Lomachenko. It’s just stating the facts. Davis stopped Pedraza in the 8th round in a one-sided fight. In contrast, Lomachenko needed to go the full 12 rounds to win a 12 round unanimous decision over Pedraza last weekend. Davis’ face was completely unmarked after the Pedraza. Davis looked like he’d gone for a light afternoon walk around the park. Lomachenko’s face was badly swollen around the eyes and cheeks after his fight with Pedraza. Lomachenko is lucky that fights are no longer 15 round affairs, a he would have been at risk of being stopped due to the swelling around his eyes.
“Lomachenko is definitely one of the best fighters in the world,” Pedraza said. “My team and I are very happy with our performance because we did a great fight against one of the best fighters in the world.”
There’s no argument that Lomachenko is one of the best fighters in boxing today. What you can question is whether Lomachenko is a better fighter than Gervonta. Before last Saturday night, there were a lot of boxing fans that felt that Lomachenko was the better fighter, but not now. The difference between how Davis defeated Pedraza and how Lomachenko did with the same opponent was dramatically different. Right now, Davis is the better fighter than Lomachenko. There’s no two ways about it. Lomachenko is a good technical fighter, but his lack of punching power and his injury problems suggest that he’s not on the same level as Davis. The two of them are heading in different directions right now. Davis is still on his way up the ladder in his boxing career, whereas Lomachenko is slowly starting his decent due to age and the physical wear and tear from his fights. There’s no way that Davis would have lost to the same Orlando Salido that beat Lomachenko in 2014, in this writer’s opinion. Davis would have destroyed Salido if there was a way of putting the Mexican fighter into a time machine in 2014 to take him to 2018 to fight him.
“It was interesting fight, you know,” Lomachenko said about his fight with Pedraza. “He had a very good jab, he prepare very good. Every round he changes position. He [was] boxing smart, so I think people who love boxing liked this fight. Did you watch the fight?! So why you ask me?” an irritated Lomachenko said when asked a question about his analysis of what transpired in the 11th round that led to him scoring two knockdowns.
It was a technical fight, and it was one of those chess-matches that require a lot of patience by boxing fans to want to sit through. Lomachenko vs. Pedraza was the farthest thing from a thrilling brawl last Saturday. It was like watching the 1979 fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Wilfred Benitez. That was a tactical chess-match for the first 14 rounds. But in the 15th, Leonard suddenly opened up with a flurry of shots that resulted in Benitez caving in and getting stopped. Lomachenko tried to unload in a similar manner on Pedraza in the 11th round, but he lacked the speed and power to get the Puerto Rican fighter out of there. Lomachenko did knock Pedraza down twice in the round, but he wasn’t able to hurt him bad enough for the referee to jump in and halt it. Pedraza wouldn’t have been knocked down a second time if he’d held Lomachenko after getting hurt. Pedraza wasn’t thinking, and he let Lomachenko tee off on hi after he dropped him for the first time.
“Two more rounds and I threw a lot of punches. I want finish this fight so, I was close to finishing [the fight]. I was close to knock him out,” Lomachenko said about his thoughts in the 11th and 12th rounds. “Maybe it’s close. The same power,” Lomachenko said in comparing Pedraza’s power to Jorge Linares.
Jorge Linares is a better puncher than Pedraza, but you can understand why Lomachenko was unable to differentiate between their power after the fight last Saturday. Pedraza’s jab is arguably better than Linares’, and Lomachenko was eating his jabs all night long. Pedraza puffed up Lomachenko’s face with his jabs, and he looked like the loser of the fight instead of the winner. Lomachenko’s face wasn’t badly swollen after his fight with Linares despite the fact that he stopped him in the 10th round last May. The difference in that fight was the jabs of Linares weren’t as powerful as the ones that Lomachenko was getting hit with last Saturday night by Pedraza.
Lomachenko made it clear at the post-fight news conference that he has no interest whatsoever to fight Pedraza in a rematch, even though he gave him his best fight since his match against Orlando Salido in 2014. It’s understandable why boxing fans would like to see a Lomachenko-Pedraza rematch. But it’s hard to blame Lomachenko for not wanting a second helping of Pedraza’s punches. The two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine’s face looked beaten to a pulp. Why would Lomachenko want to fight Pedraza again after what he went through?
“Rematch?! For what? For who?” an angry sounding Lomachenko said when asked about giving Pedraza a rematch. “Why [was Pedraza] not prepared for this fight? Why [was he] not doing [whatever he would do in rematch] for this fight? It’s not too close fight [for there to be a rematch. For me, not interesting,” Lomachenko said.
The next fight that Top Rank will likely put Lomachenko in is the winner of the Richard Commey vs. Isa Chaniev contest, which is expected to take place in early February. Commey-Chaniev will be fighting for the vacant International Boxing Federation lightweight title. Lomachenko wants that belt. Lomachenko also wants to fight WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia, but that’s a match that might not happen in 2019 if at all. Lomachenko might need to be satisfied with eventually holding 3 of the 4 titles at 135, but not all four.
“Shoulder healthy, 100%. You know, it was very good and I use couple times the right hook. Everything good,” Lomachenko said about the status of his surgically repaired right shoulder. “No, my strategy was I had to do something for Pedraza [to make him more aggressive]. That’s why I didn’t throw so many punches where he can think for himself that he can beat me and that was my strategy.”
It would be wise for Lomachenko not to hold back with his punches in the future when he faces a puncher like Mikey Garcia or Gervonta Davis. If Lomachenko holds back against those guys, he might take a little nap on the canvas. It’s unclear whether Lomachenko is being on the level in when talking about why he didn’t throw more punches against Pedraza. It was never easy for Lomachenko to get his shots off, as Pedraza was constantly moving and sticking a jab in his face. Even when Lomachenko wanted to throw shots, his short each and the mobility of Pedraza made it physically impossible for him to land his punches. If Lomachenko’s arms were longer, and his feet quicker, he would have been able to connect with more of his shots.