By Vince Dwriter: Vasiliy Lomachenko was a fortunate man on Saturday night as he was able to squeak out a hard-fought victory against the young, energetic lightweight prospect Jamaine Ortiz (16-1-1, 8 KOs) on Saturday night at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden.
The 26-year-old Ortiz came into the fight as the overwhelming underdog, but he asserted himself immediately by utilizing a fast sporadic pace. He set the tone in the opening round by working off the jab and throwing fast combinations. During the course of the opening round, Lomachenko seemed to be caught off-guard by Ortiz’s hand speed.
In round two, Ortiz continued to control distance with his jab, and he assumed the role of the aggressor as he worked at a rapid pace. He controlled the tempo and was able to keep Lomachenko off-balanced by using hand and foot feints.
During the fourth round of the fight, Ortiz displayed the ability to maintain the pace as he doubled and tripled up on the jab.
Lomachenko was able to pick up his offensive output, but in the final ten seconds of the fourth round, Ortiz finished strong as he hit Lomachenko with a flurry of shots.
Known as a slow starter, Lomachenko finally appeared to find his rhythm in the sixth round. His jab was very effective as it helped him get in range to land some flush power shots. The moment of truth had finally arrived for Ortiz, and the question was would he respond, or would he fold in the midst of a Lomachenko rally?
Unfortunately for Ortiz, Lomachenko continued to find spots to place his precise power shots. Loma appeared ready to take over the fight, but Ortiz responded in the eighth round by using his jab and then standing in the pocket and landing some good combinations.
During the course of his pro career, Jamaine Ortiz never fought outside of ten rounds, and it was evident as Lomachenko was able to impose his will in the championship rounds. Suddenly the roles were reversed as Loma appeared to be the quicker and faster boxer. Ortiz was giving the appearance of a fatigued fighter as the fast pace that he set early on was finally catching up to him.
The young opposition from Worcester, Massachusetts, set the tone early, but Lomachenko was able to rally back, and as a result, he was awarded a unanimous decision victory by the scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-111.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs) was able to earn the win, but it wasn’t a decisive victory. Some would argue that Jamaine Ortiz won the fight, and others would say that the match should have been declared a draw, but the bout was officially scored in favor of Lomachenko, and now the former three-division world champion is ready to move on to the next phase.
Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum wants to make a match between Vasiliy Lomachenko and the undisputed lightweight champion. His promoter is ready for the champ, but the question to ask is, does Lomachenko think he’s ready for Haney? If you had to answer the question based on Loma’s performance last night, that answer is a definitive no.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian superstar boxer has impressed boxing fans and boxing pundits throughout his career with his hand speed and matrix-like angles, but what Ortiz demonstrated last night is if a boxer can match Lomachenko’s foot speed, then that boxer has the ability to nullify Loma’s main weapon, which is his expertise of creating angles.
Vasiliy Lomachenko has set a personal goal for himself of becoming the undisputed lightweight champion, but the downside to his vision is the fact that in order to achieve his goal, he would have to defeat Devin Haney. Time isn’t on Lomachenko’s side, as a bout with Haney would need to happen sooner rather than later.
A prospective bout against Haney is not a matchup that would favor Lomachenko. The undisputed champ has a rangy jab, he’s fast mobile, and has a high boxing IQ. Once upon a time, the boxing community viewed Loma as the premier lightweight, but now it seems like a matchup against Devin Haney, Shakur Stevenson, or Gervonta “Tank” Davis wouldn’t end well for Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko.