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Crolla plans on using his size against Lomachenko

Vasyl Lomachenko Anthony Crolla ESPN Lomachenko vs. Crolla


By Mark Eisner: Anthony Crolla plans on using his size advantage on Friday night to try an unseat heavy favorite WBA/WBO light weight champion Vasily Lomachenko in their fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The ESPN+ card will start at 11:00 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. PT.

(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank)

Crolla, 5’8 1/2″, will enjoy an inch and half height advantage as well as a nearly two inch reach advantage. Lomachenko, 5’7″, took a lot of shots in his last fight against the taller Jose Pedraza last December. Lomachenko didn’t have an easy time in that fight. He was taking shots, and his face looked pretty well beaten up afterwards.

Since moving up to lightweight, Lomachenko has found out that his technical boxing skills aren’t enough for him to dominate good opposition without taking a lot of punishment at lightweight. Lomachenko is still winning, but the fights aren’t easy like they were for him when he was fight at super featherweight against guys like Manuel Marriaga, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa and Roman Martinez.

“I’ve got to try and make my size count,” Crolla said on Thursday after successfully weighing in for the fight. “Height, reach, I’ve got a much longer reach. Winning this fight is going to be much more than being the bigger guy. I’ve got to be smart with it. I’ve got to use the size well.”

If Crolla can resist taking the fight to the inside like he normally does in his fights, then he has a chance of picking Lomachenko apart and handing him his second career defeat. It’s not going to be easy to beat Limachenko, because he’s the favorite, and his promoters at TOp Rank are the leading promoters for the fight on ESPN+.

Lomachenko hasn’t been bashful about letting the boxing media know that he’s overly excited about fighting Crolla, who he sees as a defensive fighter, and he thinks it could be a boring tactical battle. Lomachenko would rather be fighting a slugger that could come straight at him. Lomachenko could get that type of fight if he insisted that his promoters at Top Rank match him against stable-mate Teofimo Lopez or Gervonta Davis. Those guys would come straight at Lomachenko and look to take his head off.

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It’s obviously going to be tough for Crolla to impose his size on Lomachenko. Crolla hasn’t beaten anyone with the kind of talent that Lomachenko possesses. Crolla’s best wins have come against Darleys Perez, Daud Yordan, Ricky Burns, Edson Ramirez, Ismael Barroso, Gavin Rees, John Murray, and Willie Limond. Up until his fifth round knockout win over wBA lightweight champion Darley Perez in November 2015, his career was going nowhere.

Crolla surprised a lot of boxing fans in stopping Perez after fighting him to a controversial 12 round draw in their first fight in July 2015 in Manchester, England. Both fights took place in Manchester. The victory Perez made a name for Crolla. He defended his WBA successfully once in beating Ismael Barroso by a surprise 7th round knockout in May 2017. However, Crolla’s short title reign as the WBA champion came to a screeching halt in September 2016 when he was soundly beaten by Jorge Linares by a 12 round unanimous decision.

What was impressive about Linares’ win was he did it in Crolla’s hometown of Manchester in front of his British boxing fans. In the rematch six months later, Linares beat Crolla even more impressively in defeating him by a 12 round unanimous decision in March 2017.

“I’m the best-prepared I’ve ever been in my life,” Crolla said. “The timing’s perfect for me. Would Loma rather have another opponent in a super fight? Yeah, I’m sure he would.”

Lomachenko wanted to fight for the IBF lightweight title against champion Richard Commey, but he was injured and couldn’t fight him.

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“Do I believe he’s underestimating me? I’m not so sure,” Crolla said about Lomachenko. “He has a very professional team around him. But if he does, I’ve prepared the best I can, and I’ll pull off the upset, and I really believe I can do it.”

Lomachenko needs a ‘W’ over Crolla to get to the unification fight this summer against IBF champion Richard Commey that he wants. There’s nothing spectacular about the Crolla fight, but it’s just as important for Lomachenko as the Commey fight. If Lomachenko loses to Crolla, then he can forget about the Commey fight. He would need to face Crolla in a rematch, and hope that he can avenge his loss.

Lomachenko can’t count on getting passed Crolla like he’s an easy mark, because his last two fights against Pedraza and Linares showed that he’s not a good enough fighter at lightweight to just show up and assume that he’s going to dominate his opposition in the same way he had when he was fighting at 126 and 130. It’s no longer like that for Lomachenko. The fighters are bigger and stronger at lightweight, and he’s gotten older. It could be that the days of the 2-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine Lomachenko won’t be winning any of his fights easily anymore.

“Of course, I don’t like it. It’s not good for me, but it is what it is,” Lomachenko said to ESPN.com about him needing to face his WBA mandatory Crolla in order to keep his WBA strap rather than fighting Commey for his IBF title.

There had been talk of Lomachenko possibly moving up all the way to light welterweight to go after a fourth division world title in the near future, but he says he’s not going to take that risk. Lomachenko feels that even the lightweight division is a step too far for him. Lomachenko just wants to finish unifying the division, and then he’ll move back down to super featherweight to fight against guys his own size.

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If there was a beatable champion at light welterweight right now that Lomachenko could comfortably defeat without getting hurt and or taking a lot of punishment in winning, he would likely make the move up to light welterweight to go after the strap. But there’s no belt holder right now at light welterweight that Lomachenko could beat in a sure thing win without him taking a lot of punishment. The champions at 140 right now are as follows: Jose Ramirez [WBC], Kiryl Relikh [WBA], Ivan Baranchyk [IBF] and Maurice Hooker [WBO]. Lomachenko could maybe beat Relikh and Hooker, but those would be hard fights where he gets hit a lot, and has a lot of problems in winning.

“I cant. I can’t,” Lomachenko said about moving up to 140. “For me, it’s 135; [140 pounds] is too much now,” he said about the prospect of moving up to junior welterweight. “My regular weight, my natural weight is 130 [the junior lightweight limit]. It’s comfortable for me, and [the opponents] are my size guys. But now, I fight with guys who are bigger than me. I can’t go the next weight class up, 140. I can’t. It’s too big,” Lomachenko said.

It’s safe to say that Lomachenko won’t be surprising to follow in Floyd Mayweather Jr’s footsteps the way that he started his pro career out at super featherweight, and then moved up all the way to 154 in winning world titles. That’s five division titles. If Lomachenko were to do what Mayweather did, he would need to win belts at 140 and 147 to become a five division world champion.

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