Mookie Alexander recaps Top Rank’s latest ESPN card, which saw Vasyl Lomachenko wipe out Miguel Marriaga.
Vasyl Lomachenko ran through a tough but predictably overmatched Miguel Marriaga and forced yet another corner stoppage win. This was extremely unlikely to be competitive in the first place, with Marriaga never the first option, but it’s nevertheless incredible to watch Lomachenko compete. He cuts angles so well, moves so beautifully, throws sharp jabs, works a terrific combination game, it’s just fascinating. He’s such an awe-inspiring talent who has treated opponents much better than Marriaga the exact same way.
Lomachenko is a machine and I really hope that if he is fighting in December, as Top Rank had promised, it’s either a title unification bout (Miguel Berchelt probably is the best bet, Jezreel Corrales might rematch Robinson Castellanos, and I highly doubt Gervonta Davis is remotely ready nor should he fight Lomachenko right now), a rematch with Orlando Salido (the only man to beat him), or some type of superfight against either WBA 122-pound champion Guillermo Rigondeaux or WBC 135-pound champion Mikey Garcia. I’d much rather see him against Garcia, but Mikey’s messy break-up with Top Rank may complicate that fight ever happening. Whatever the case, Lomachenko needs a serious challenge, or at least someone who figures to not be somebody whom the Ukrainian can literally pat on the head like a child in between delivering inhumane punishment.
More thoughts on tonight’s card:
- Lomachenko’s last three opponents have either quit (Nicholas Walters) or been stopped by their corners (Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga). To do that consecutively is just amazing. Marriaga isn’t a great fighter, but he is a B+ type of guy who is a viable contender at featherweight. He moved up in weight to take this fight, but short of the ol’ “puncher’s chance” outcome, this was the inevitable ending.
- Former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw was among those in attendance in Los Angeles. Dillashaw has sparred with Lomachenko in the past, and he was on hand to see one of the best in the world do his thing.
- Stop putting Stephen A. Smith on these Top Rank broadcasts, ESPN. I do my best to avoid him but he just has to pop up and not say anything substantive.
- The Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony ran way over its three-hour timeslot, so the broadcast started on ESPN2. It was about 11:45 PM ET when they moved over to ESPN. The main card also got pushed back. This is nothing new to boxing fans, who’ve seen many cards get overrun by other sports airing on one of the ESPN channels. It’s also why I believe the UFC and ESPN aren’t a good match, especially given Saturday nights will be blocked off for football from September-December, and even into March there’s primetime college basketball. What are they going to do, move to Fridays?
- Ray Beltran defeated Bryan Vasquez in a pretty good but not great fight in the co-feature. Beltran has won five in a row, and really the story is whether or not Ray will be able to get a green card, which would allow him permanent residency status in the United States. He’s currently staying in the country through a P1 work visa, but he can obtain a green card if he’s deemed an “extraordinary athlete.” Beltran is probably going to get a major title fight opportunity in his next outing, which would definitely help him towards that green card.
- Fight purses for the ESPN broadcast were Lomachenko $750,000/Marriaga $50,000, and Beltran $100,000/Vasquez $10,000. For what it’s worth, Orlando Salido reportedly turned down $720,000 to rematch Lomachenko. As for Marriaga, he made $40,000 in his loss to Oscar Valdez in April, so not much of an increase in pay against an even better opponent.
- Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo were interviewed to hype up their August 19th welterweight title unification bout, and wow it wasn’t interesting. You should definitely tune in for the actual fight, as the winner will be the undisputed champion, which is really hard to do with the annoying alphabet soup scene that is boxing.