A recap and analysis of another astonishing performance from Vasyl Lomachenko, arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
What more can you say about Vasyl Lomachenko? He was expected to beat Guillermo Rigondeaux if you go by the betting odds and just the fact that Rigondeaux was moving up two weight classes to fight him, but actually seeing it play out is unbelievable. Nobody styles on Rigondeaux like that. Nobody! And Lomachenko made it look so damn easy. Rigondeaux did not land more than three punches in any round according to CompuBox (not that they’re always accurate).
Rigondeaux didn’t quit just because his hand was apparently injured. He quit because there was no way he could win, there was no solving the Lomachenko puzzle, and while he wasn’t getting punished in some grotesque way, it was probably so disheartening for him to get thoroughly outboxed, his specialty. Counterpunching? Lomachenko was better. Defense? Lomachenko was better. Offense? Of course Lomachenko was better. Rigondeaux tried his usual roughhousing tactics and incessant holding (which earned him a point deduction), and Lomachenko found moments to create offense there, too.
I have to wax poetic about Lomachenko because he is unlike any other boxer we’ve ever seen. His footwork, the angles he cuts, the jabs, the combination punching, it all just blends into something that seems utterly impossible to get past. Yes, he has a loss on his record against Orlando Salido, but the Lomachenko of now is substantially better than the one from 2014. He is a freak of nature. MMA has Demetrious Johnson, boxing has Vasyl Lomachenko.
More thoughts on tonight’s show:
- This is the fourth time running that a Lomachenko opponent has either had the corner throw in the towel or the opponent quit in his own. That is absolutely amazing to me.
- Phenomenal atmosphere at the MSG Theater. It’s rare to see a high-level boxing card with a full house way before the main event. Lomachenko has built up a good enough fanbase to pack mid-sized arenas, and you have to think he’ll be going to bigger venues after this. This felt like a big deal (because it was), and I’m glad that came through on the ESPN broadcast. With that said…
- Stephen A. Smith has no business being near any boxing show, and I’ve said this before. He is a human megaphone who offers little in the way of substantive analysis. ESPN did this because of the casual fan interest, so I know why he’s there, I just wish he wasn’t.
- Rising Irish star Michael Conlan (5-0, 4 KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career, outclassing Luis Fernando Molina (7-4-1, 2 KOs) en route to a shutout unanimous decision win in a scheduled six-rounder. Molina has still never been finished, so Conlan couldn’t break him down on this occasion, but he did get in some good work and showcased more of his overall boxing skill than we’ve seen in previous bouts. Sometimes it’s not all about crushing cans and journeymen, so while it would’ve been nice to see Conlan add to his highlight reel, these fights can be just as beneficial for up-and-comers.
- Christopher Diaz (22-0, 14 KOs) dismantled short-notice replacement Bryant Cruz (18-3, 9 KOs) in impressive fashion, discombobulating him in rounds 2 and 3 and getting the TKO finish. Puerto Rico has been struggling to find its next generation of stars, perhaps Diaz could be one. This fight was contested at junior lightweight, but Diaz is ranked in the WBO’s top-10 as a featherweight.
- Undefeated 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (4-0, 2 KOs) looked sharp in his win over Oscar Mendoza (4-3, 2 KOs), who was stopped in the second-round even though he never went down or wobbled. It was one-sided and the referee presumably figured there was no way it was going to get any better (it wasn’t, ‘cuz it was a mismatch). Keep an eye on Stevenson’s career, as he racks up the wins and gains more ring experience at featherweight.
- We have one more major boxing event cover for 2017, and that’s next Saturday’s HBO main event between WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux. It could be exciting, it could be boring, but not only will we have coverage of it, the event starts AFTER UFC on FOX 26, so you can watch both without interruption.