By Hector Gonzalez: A couple of months back, while out having dinner in Los Angeles, I ran into a former boxing world champion, who, as of recent, was also a boxing commentator for one of the major networks (I will not name him).
We shook hands, took a picture, and talked boxing briefly. I asked him what he thought about the upcoming Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasily Lomachenko bout, and his response was a lens into what many boxing insiders feel about Lomachenko.
This former world champion is often on interviews and former commentator on national T.V. He is often seen in interviews with all smiles and levelheadedness. However, when asked about Lomachenko, he became an outspoken critic.
His response is telling of an unspoken sentiment within boxing regarding the career of Lomachenko, that the way his professional boxing career has unfolded has been disrespectful to the sport of boxing.
Tank Davis and Adrien Broner are on record talking about this; both have said that; calling someone with 13 fights (at the time) one of the best fighters of all time was a disrespect to boxing. They are right, and this topic goes even further.
Initially, Vasily Lomachenko was supposed to sign with Golden Boy Promotions. They were the front runner for signing negotiations. However, the negotiations fell through because of one major caveat, Lomachenko demanded to be given a world title shot immediately, something that Golden Boy was unwilling to agree to. Thus Lomachenko signed with Bob Arum’s Top Rank instead, willing to give him an immediate title shot.
The narrative that Lomachenko is the fastest fighter to become a world champion is understood by most as an accomplishment (which it is). Still, it has to be critically analyzed by questioning if a fighter with 1 professional fight deserves a world title shot. First, let me continue, does a fighter who gets a title on his second fight, loses that fight deserve a title shot on his third fight?
Let me reframe the question, how does a fighter get a title shot on his second fight, lose that second fight, and immediately get a title shot on his third fight? Where is the respect for the fighters waiting in line?
Some pundits have even said that Lomachenko was the best fighter of all time, saying he’s the current pound for pound champion, even claiming that he’s better than Floyd Mayweather and Muhammad Ali.
I’ll address this topic later in the article based on skill. Still, first, I want to continue with the topic of ‘respect.’ I’ll start with Orlando Salido, Orlando Salido was never in the elite class of featherweights, but he is a boxer that has given much to the sport of boxing; he’s given us 3 fight of the year candidates, his resume includes the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Robert the Ghost Guerrero, Yuriokis Gamboa, Mikey Garcia, Juan Manuel Lopez, truly a treat for the sport of boxing.
Orlando Salido went on to defeat Lomachenko in 2013, and yet Salido’s name goes on to be tarnished, “he didn’t make weight,” “low blows’, where is the respect for the old veteran. Orlando Salido used most of his boxing earnings to invest in apartments, yet he never truly received a payday; Orlando Salido was an Uber driver on the side even as a World Champion after the Lomachenko fight.
The old Veteran was willing to give Lomachenko the rematch but wanted a million-dollar payday, yet it is often suggested that Salido was the one that didn’t want the fight. Where is the respect for the old veteran?
Around the same time that Lomachenko fought Salido, Abner Mares, Johnny Gonzalez, and Nonito Donaire were also campaigning at Featherweight; how does Lomachenko automatically get a shot at the title, how does Lomachenko get to jump over Mares, Gonzalez, and Donaire at a shot at the belt?
Something off-putting by pundits is that they will gauge a fighters skill level based on how well they did against Lomachenko. Jorge Linares knocked down Lomachenko and therefore is supposed to be an elite fighter; Linares peaked in 2011 when he was TKO’d by Antonio Demarco; pundits also conveniently ignore that Linares was KO’d by Cesar Cano the very next fight.
In fact, the fighters that Lomachenko stopped beside Gary Russel, Nicholas Walters, and Guillermo Rigondeaux, who moved up 2 weight classes, lost and were stopped by other fighters right around the same time.
Miguel Berchelt obliterated Jason Sosa, Anthony Crolla had 6 loses when he fought Lomachenko, Miguel Marriaga had just lost to Oscar Valdez when he fought Lomachenko, Roman Martinez was KO’d by both Mikey Garcia and Yuriorkis Gamboa,
I’ve written articles on multiple occasions on this site about styles and why fights come down to style; swarmers, boxer punchers, technicians are the basis of all styles, and from those styles, other styles develop.
The boxing greats have extensive track records of adjusting to styles; they have proven track records throughout their careers; that’s what makes them great. No matter how elusive he might look against a particular style, a fighter might actually look horrible against another style if said fighter can not adjust.
As fighters develop and become championship contenders, they’ve already passed multiple tests in fighting in an array of styles. The problem with calling Vasily Lomachenko boxing great is that he has not proven to be able to adapt and beat these array of styles, and yet he was called one of boxing’s greats.
The last time Lomachenko fought a swarmer, he lost, and Lomachenko’s biggest problem is that there are plenty of swarmers in the 130-135 divisions, Miguel Berchelt, Emanuel Navarette, El Vandido Vargas; hard-hitting pressure fighters that breakdown the body, that come forward and could take a punch.
This past Saturday, we saw him go up against a KO artist with high right IQ and fast hands in the young Teofimo Lopez. Lomachenko didn’t pass the test. The problem is that there are also a few of those in the division, Ryan Garcia, David Haney, Tank Davis, and Shakur Stevenson, more refined versions of Jorge Linares, Luke Campbell, or Jose Pedraza.
Vasily Lomachenko is a great fighter, but let’s stop saying that he is an all-time great or is currently the pound for pound best. In the words of Tank Davis, “that’s disrespectful to the sport of boxing.” Floyd Mayweather is not only undefeated, but his defense was also so elusive that he’s the least hit fighter in the history of boxing who never even hit the canvass.
Manny Pacquiao was smaller than Lomachenko and moved up, becoming a world champion in 8 divisions. There is no comparison to the recent years’ featherweights legends, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Berrera, or Juan Manuel Marquez.
It’s possible that Lomachenko could be up there one day, but to do so, he would need to climb up the ranks like every other fighter and prove his greatness, something you can’t do with a record of 14 wins and 2 losses.
Email writer at Hect59@hotmail.com