By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
You don’t need me to tell you that Vasyl Lomachenko is good at boxing. After just eight fights (7-1-KO5) he has asserted himself as the most aesthetically pleasing boxer on the planet. Watching him move around the ring, outmanoeuvring his opponents and finding punches from unfathomable angles, is pure art. He’s the Vincent van Gogh of boxing, if you will – apart from the self-harming tendencies.
It’s easy to come up with a whole host of comparisons for Lomachenko’s greatness. Like Usain Bolt in his heyday, Roger Federer at his indomitable best, or more topically a prime Wrestlemania The Undertaker, his opponents simply cannot figure out a way to beat him – aside from abandoning a weight cut and firing in low blows (I’m looking at you Orlando Salido).
His innovation and dominance have prompted some observers to label him already as the best fighter on the planet. Purely from a boxing standpoint, i.e. who could beat who all things being equal, it’s hard to argue against him. However, his professional career is still in his infancy and he needs to keep winning in style to rubber-stamp him his claim as the best in the world.
He looks to do that this weekend when he faces Jason Sosa (20-1-4-KO15) in the bizarre setting of Oxon Hill, Maryland. There, Lomachenko will be making his second defence of his WBO Junior Lightweight title – having beaten Nicholas Walters, quite literally, into submission last November in his first defence.
Aside from Sosa’s team, is there really anyone who believes that an upset could be on the cards here? Sosa is a solid boxer, who impressed British audiences when he outclassed Stephen Smith in November. But aside from that fight, and his fortuitous draw with the aforementioned Walters in 2015, he’s not really been in with anyone of note and certainly nobody to prepare him for Lomachenko.
So the assumption for the remainder of this article is that Lomachenko wins on Saturday night. No disrespect to Sosa, Loma’s just that good. The key for the Ukrainian in this contest is how good he’ll be able to look in victory. It seems that that is now the measuring stick for Lomachenko’s fights – we know he’s going to win, but how dominantly can he do it?
He’s already far and away the best junior lightweight on the planet, with just the rematch with Salido and perhaps a contest with IBF champ Gervonta Davis being able to hold his attention for much longer. He’s already talked about moving up to the 135lb. division, where a litany of intriguing match-ups would await him.
How good would a Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia fight look? Or Loma vs. Jorge Linares? Loma-Linares would be perhaps the most beautiful bout that the sport has to offer at this time. Even the likes of Terry Flanagan, Robert Easter Jr. and Felix Verdejo would make fascinating opponents for him.
It may be that Lomachenko will not be able to wrest the pound-for-pound crown from the likes of Andre Ward and Gennady Golovkin until he moves up and conquers the lightweight division – but his bid for recognition as the world’s premier prize-fighter could be solidified by a stoppage of the rugged Sosa this weekend.
Ward’s list of victims is a big roadblock for Lomachenko, while there are many who still believe Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez is the best boxer in the world despite his contentious first defeat at the hands of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai recently. However, Lomachenko will keep doing what he’s been doing. He’ll keep knocking off elite fighters and making them look anything but elite while doing so. And sooner or later, his argument will be undeniable.by