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Roach: ‘Lomachenko is beatable with pressure’

Freddie Roach Vasyl Lomachenko Anthony Crolla ESPN Lomachenko vs. Crolla top rank

By Mark Eisner: Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KOs) might want to listen to the advice from legendary trainer Freddie Roach when he tries to solve the Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs) riddle tonight in their fight on ESPN+ at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

Roach says Loachenko, 31, can be beaten with pressure. The experienced trainer, who has trained countless top fighters in boxing, says the key is to ignore all the movement that Lomachenko uses.

Instead go after him, apply nonstop pressure, and hit him and match his work rate. It would help to have a good chin, Roach adds, because Lomachenko will land a lot of good shots. But Roach notes that an average fighter in Orlando Salido defeated Lomachenko six years ago in 2013, so it’s not impossible to beat him. Salido did it by ignoring the wasted movement that Lomachenko used, and and he focused on cutting off the ring, forcing him to fight, and hitting him with body shots. Many fighters get frustrated with the movement that Lomachenko uses, and they’re not able to pressure him the way that one needs to in order to beat a slick mover.

“I don’t think he’s (pound-for-pound number one),” Roach said about Lomachenko. “I think [Errol] Spence and [Terence] Crawford are the best two fighters in the world, and No. 1 I would pick Crawford. But (Lomachenko) is a good boxer, yes,” Roach said.

The pound-for-pound opinion stuff is unimportant. What’s important is whether Lomachenko can be beaten with pressure from Crolla or other fighters. Crolla, 31, must take the fight to Lomachenko tonight, and not let him dance around the ring on the outside, picking his spots for when he comes charging in to throw shots with speed behind them. Lomachenko isn’t the same fighter when he’s fighting going backwards, and playing matador. He doesn’t like to be pressured. Crolla isn’t the best guy to do the job on Lomachenko when it comes to pressuring him, but he still has enough power and talent to give the two-time Olympic gold medalist fits tonight. If Crolla’s trainer has put together a game plan for him to box Lomachenko for 12 rounds, it’s probably not going to workout too well for him using that approach. As the saying goes, ‘Don’t box with a boxer.’ Crolla will be playing into Lomachenko’s fighting style if he boxes him tonight.

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“I think he’s beatable. I know what I would have my fighter do to try to beat him,” Roach said about Lomachenko. “F— his footwork, and go after him. Punch-for-punch. You might have to have a good chin to last, but there’s guys out there like that. I would just put pressure on him. He has one loss, and he did lose to a pretty average guy. [Orlando Salido] guy was a good sparring partner for many years,” Roach said.

Lomachenko’s boxing fans like to blame his loss to Orlando Salido on the Mexican fighter being heavier than him, and landing some low blows in the fight. Salido came in two lbs heavy at 128 1/4 lbs the weigh-in for their featherweight fight. Yeah, that’s overweight, but not by a huge amount. Being five or more lbs over is a lot, but not 2 lbs. On the night of the fight, Salido looked heavier than Lomachenko, but that’s not why he beat him. The occasional low blows that Salido hit Lomachenko isn’t why he won either. The reason Salido won the fight is because he was hitting Lomachenko with body shots, and he could’t take it downstairs. Lomachenko was holding on for the first 11 rounds to try and keep Salido from hitting him to the body. The referee should have taken points off from Lomachenko for the excessive holding, and perhaps even disqualified him. For the boxing fan that remember the Lennox Lewis vs. Henry Akinwande fight, they’ll remember how Akinwande was disqualified for doing a lot of holding. Lomachenko was way above Akinwande with the holding that he was doing against Salido. The pressure that Salido put on Lomachenko was more than he could handle. None of Lomachneko’s 11 opponents that he’s faced since then have been smart enough to follow the blueprint that Salido created in how to beat him. That’s a failure on them and their trainer’s part not to take advantage of an easy to follow blueprint in how to beat Loma.

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“In his (fight with Jorge Linares), though, he was fighting one of the best fighters in the world, and he gets dropped and comes back and knocks him out with a body shot,” Roach said about Lomachenko. “I didn’t expect that. He may be a little better than I thought. I do think he is beatable, though, and I hope we get the right guy to fight him someday.”

Thus far, Top Rank hasn’t been able to find the “right guy” to match against Lomachenko to bring him a lot of popularity. He’s being matched against guys that aren’t popular. When Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum is asked about putting him in with popular guys like Gervonta Davis, he’s sounded negative and not particularly interested in making that fight. The only idea that Arum has for a big fight for Lomachenko is matching him against Teofimo Lopez in 2020. That won’t be a big fight because Lopez doesn’t have a large fan base yet.

Roach wasn’t impressed with what he saw from IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in his recent win over Mikey Garcia last March. Roach thinks Spence should have been able to knock Mikey down at the very least if not knock him out. The fact that Spence couldn’t accomplish that was a troubling.

“Possibly, but I think that Spence has a lot of trouble making 147,” Roach said about Teddy Atlas saying that Spence might be too big for Terence Crawford. “I think that’s why I think Spence went the distance with a little guy [Mikey Garcia]. Usually, Spence puts people on their ass somewhere in the fight, at least has knockdowns if not knockouts. But in that fight, he fought a little guy and never hurt him once. That was a little unusual,” Roach said.

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You’ve got to give Spence credit for doing what he set out to do in boxing his way to a 12 round decision. Spence felt he was in a situation where he wouldn’t be given credit from boxing fans if he just went out there and bulldozed the smaller, weaker and older Mikey Garcia. So instead of doing that, Spence chose to prove the boxing critics wrong by showing them that he could out-box Mikey. The fans, media and many former world champions thought Mikey was too skilled for him to win, so he chose to prove all of them wrong by out-boxing Garcia. Spence accomplished his goal, and won an easy 12 round decision. Letting the fight go the full 12 round distance was a wise thing for Spence to do. If the fight had been close, there would have been a demand from boxing fans to see a rematch.

“I didn’t think it was his best performance ever. I don’t think that performance really helped his career at all, either, because the fight was kind of boring to watch,” Roach said about Spence’s performance in beating Mikey Garcia. “I was a little bored with that fight.”

Roach should try and convince his fighter Manny Pacquiao to take the fight with Spence so that he could come up with a game plan that the Filipino star Manny could use to try and beat Spence. Pacquiao agreed to fight Spence after the fight when he climbed into the ring, but then he later changed his mind and is expected to fight Keith Thurman in his next fight. It would be nice if Roach could get Pacquiao to agree to fight Spence so that he could try and work his magic as a trainer to come up with the perfect game plan to beat the Texas native.

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