On Saturday night from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Vasyl Lomachenko (9-1 7 KO) once again systematically broke down another opponent en route to retaining his WBO Junior Lightweight title. That’s three Hi-Tech adversaries in a row that have chosen to remain on their stool during the fight rather than to re-enter The Matrix.
This time around it was the tough as nails Miguel Marriaga (25-3 21 KO) who did not answer the bell. We can’t blame Marriaga, round after round he was subjected to the Ukrainian’s brilliance.
Lomachenko opened Round One studying the challenger but as usual, there was the beautiful footwork muscle memoried from years of dance lessons. Lomachenko landed a blistering left -right combination which would set the tone for the rest of the fight. The speed was going to be too much.
In the second, the champion began to land to the body while activating his jab like a piston in an engine. Marriaga did land a few solid punches in this round but that’s about all you will land because when you swing again, the target is gone.
The third was actually a closer round until Lomachenko dropped Marriaga in the last-minute. As Marriaga was moving back in retreat, Lomachenko landed a straight left dropping him; however, as it happens when a southpaw fights a conventional fighter, the entanglement of their feet may have contributed to the fall.
After Marriaga got up, Lomacheno purposely backed himself into the neutral corner and motioned Marriaga to come forward. Marriaga obliged Lomachenko and caught a few shots but also landed a few. Lomachenko did a bit of a dance then landed a few more punches as the round ended.
In the fourth, Lomachenko’s footwork was on full display with his trademark step over move. The effortless movement is the key to all that he does. He only need focus on landing his textbook variety of punches with head movement to dodge return fire as his feet subconsciously do the rest.
Later in the round, a clash of heads cuts the champion over the left eye. It bothers Lomachenko temporarily but between rounds his corner does a masterful job in making the wound a non-issue.
In watching Lomachenko’s fights, it appears that his game plan is to dissect the bout into thirds with each third more brutal than the last. He adds a new wrinkle in each segment if needed and is relentless in his attack.
Over the next three rounds Marriaga was systematically broken down. Lomachenko a scientist, setting up everything behind the jab, working the body, landing blistering combinations, and controlling it all with his movement.
In the seventh, Lomachenko landed a barrage of lethal hooks to the head and body resulting in another knockdown. Marriaga made it out of the round but his corner had seen enough and ended things with no argument from the Columbian.
After the fight, Lomachenko’s face, more so than Marriaga’s, showed the signs of battle. In his defense, the Marriaga head butt did most of the damage on the left eye but the challenger did hit him with some clean shots which created the welt by his right eye.
After the fight, Lomachenko knew that going forward he must tighten up his defense saying, “It was an interesting fight, I have more experience. I need training on my defense”.
Let’s face it, Lomachenko can win these fights without taking visible punishment if he chooses to do so. He can use his exceptional skills to score points, bank rounds and win a one-sided decision. There is nothing wrong with that for the purist of the bunch but for those who want the brutality of the sport this is not going to sit well. Lomachenko is aware of this and aims to please both groups which is evident by his performances.
Thing is, he’s willing to take a shot to give seven. He’s willing to engage his opponents in combat and has a mean streak that appears when it is needed.
Arguably the greatest amateur of all time, he still is only ten fights into his pro career. He’s already in the top pound for pound conversation and has been for a few fights now.
All you need to know about Lomachenko is that he has a desire to be the best and break from the conventional wisdom that a top P4P fighter only fights a few times a year.
Said Lomachenko in an ESPN interview “I’m ready to get in the ring every two to three months and fight the finest boxers in the world. I want my name to be evoked anytime the topic of boxing is brought up, for my name to be synonymous with boxing”
There’s been plenty of talk about a matchup with Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rest assured they’ll knuckleup soon enough. That said, I’d rather see Rigondeaux first face an opponent that Lomachenko has already defeated and that is Mr. Gary Russell Jr. If Rigondeaux gets past Russell Jr. then start the talks…thing is, I’m not sure he gets by Russell Jr.
Mikey Garcia or Tank Davis? Great matchups and we’ll no doubt see an even better Lomachenko than we have seen already. Yes, that is possible, he’s only ten fight into his pro career and while he’s already been amazing he surely has not peaked.
It is unlikely that as the competition increases we will continue to see more versions of “no mas” but one thing’s for sure, when Lomachenko foes enter The Matrix, they only have two choices.
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.“―The Matrix