Some athletes grab your attention with their mouth. Some do it with their physical stature.
Last Saturday, Vasyl Lomachenko put on a display of boxing fundamentals that was truly unprecedented. Agreeing to fight at 130 lbs., he took on the number nine-ranked Junior Lightweight Columbian contender Miguel Marriaga. However, he was no match for the constant pressure of the Ukrainian phenom when the two met in Las Vegas, broadcasted live on ESPN.
The fight promoted impenetrable fundamentals with an abundance of entertainment and flare. The combination of the two came to life in the 3rd round when Lomachenko knocked down Marriaga. After the ref wiped the rosin off of Marriaga’s gloves, Lomachenko proceeded to taunt Marriaga. Standing in the neutral corner, he encouraged Marriaga to give him his best shot. Marriaga was unable to connect.
This was the second big match that ESPN has shown this summer through the “Top Rank Boxing” promotion. The other was Jeff Horn’s major upset against legend, Manny Pacquio in Australia. According to forbes.com the first match was, “the highest-rated boxing broadcast on cable since 2006, and it was the most watched original cable show on Saturday among the 18–49 adult demographic.”
Thus far, the boxing experiment on ESPN has been working. This is one of the first times that a combat sports promotion put out mainstream, commercial material.
With all the success that ESPN has had this summer it will be interesting to see if they are encouraged to bid on the UFC rights when they expire from Fox.
The well-received moves by ESPN is in thanks to an absolute slugfest from Horn/Pacquio and a performance that put Lomachenko on everyone’s top pound-for-pound lists if he wasn’t already.
Lomachenko, trained by his father, has an amateur record of 395–1. While his pro record is brief, its impressive quality makes up for it. Losing in only his second pro fight, Lomachenko holds two titles and has a record of 9–1.
His unique style is mesmerizing to watch. Taking part in some unorthodox training methods, his training camps have become intriguing to boxing culture. Most notably, he is notorious for training his mind after an entire 3–4 hour workout. After being exhausted by perhaps a 10 round sparring session, Lomachenko will then go do 30 minutes of mind exercises.
As of now, his odd methods are working. He has the effective defense of Floyd Mayweather while keeping fights entertaining by pushing the action. He stays out of range to get hit… but is in range to connect his gloves on the head of his opponents. Using quick feet and an absurd accumulation of punches, Lomachenko has come across an interesting problem that not many before him have faced.
The 29 year old has a short list of men who are willing to fight him.
Although Lomachenko fought Marriaga at 130 lbs, his next fight could take him in multiple different directions. Some critics want him to fight boxing star Mikey Garcia, who recently toyed with title contender Adrien Broner. Another possible matchup would be with a former Top Rank Boxing stud, Terence Crawford, who won his last match in spectacular fashion via a 3rd round body shot KO.
Whoever his next opponent will be, they will have to solve the high volume of punches that Lomachenko throws, not to mention his wicked footwork. That footwork, he attributes to years of dancing lessons that his father forced him to attend. And while, I’m sure it wasn’t appreciated then — he is grateful for it now. His footwork is now what puts him in a different stratosphere for boxing skills.
The next showcase of Lomachenko’s skills is expected to be in December, again on ESPN.