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How Great Can Vasyl Lomachenko Become?

Touted as one of the most unique fighters ever in history by Carl Frampton, as an “incredible phenomenon” with a skill as never seen before by Barry McGuigan, and as one of, if not the best pound for pound fighter in the world by many critics and commentators, Vasyl ’Hi-tech’ Lomachenko has taken the world by storm since his incredible win against a big-hearted Jason Sosa earlier this month.

We take a look at where his tremendous talent, eye catching social media posts, likable personality, and incredible amateur record may take the 8-1 Ukrainian in his up and coming professional career.

On 8th April 2017, Lomachenko retained his WBO junior lightweight title after a nine-round schooling of Jason Sosa (20-1-4). By no means a badly matched opponent on paper, Sosa had 15 KO’s on his record and looked to really be a challenge for Lomachenko. However, Sosa was clearly defeated in every single round, Lomachenko dominating with his lightning speed, flashy style and remarkable combination punches. Sosa’s trainer pulled him out of the fight after the ninth round due to how many punches his boxer was receiving and fears for the consequences.

Despite the outcome – to date, apart from Salido (Lomachenko’s one loss on his record), Sosa has been the most successful against the Ukrainian when looking at the stats. Sosa landed 68 out of 286 punches thrown (24%) to Lomachenko’s 275 out of 696 (40%).

The fight also saw an increase in viewership on Lomachenko’s last fight on HBO against Walters peaking at 886,000 viewers. This fight really captured people’s attention leading to a lot of professionals and fight fans alike to comment on Vasyl’s seemingly incomparable skills in the ring. His excellent hand speed, timing, accuracy, creativity and foot movement seem to have mesmerised the boxing world since then.

Even though the Ukrainian has had just nine professional fights, his amateur record is remarkable and one of the greatest of all time, with 396 wins to just one loss (which was avenged, twice).

He has held the WBO super featherweight title since 2016, having previously held the WBO featherweight title from 2014 to 2016, the latter he won in just his third professional fight. As an amateur he won silver at the 2007 World Championships followed by golds in 2009 and 2011. He also won consecutive golds in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

He is also highly praised by the boxing organisations and in the press. As of February 2017, he was ranked as the world’s fifth best boxer, pound for pound by BoxRec, sixth by The Ring Magazine and seventh by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. He is also ranked by all three as the world’s best super featherweight. The Ring also named Vasyl as their ‘Prospect of the Year’ in 2013 and CBS Sports and HBO Sports named his as ‘Boxer of the Year’ in 2016.

Even before his amateur and Olympic success, boxing was in Lomachenko’s blood – he was coached (and still is) by his boxing trainer father from a young age and has said that if his dad was not in this profession, he probably would have chosen to play ice hockey instead.

After his two Olympic gold medal wins, Lomachenko signed with Top Rank promotions, winning his first professional fight in style with a fourth-round knockout against Jose Ramirez.

He tried to make history by winning a world championship in his second fight against Orlando Salido but his was unsuccessful and he lost in a controversial split decision. Boxing commentators and fans mentioned Salido’s dirty tactics, weight issues and poor refereeing as contributing factors in his loss, which is the only loss on his professional record.

He then defeated Gary Russell Jr, matching Thailand’s Muangsurin’s record as the only other boxer to have won a world title in three bouts – winning the belt stripped from Salido for failing to make weight.

Since then he has continued his winning streak, out punching his opponents each time by a very large percentage. Moving up to super feather weight, Lomachenko then became the fastest boxer to win a world title in two weight divisions knocking out Roman Martinez in the fifth round. Since then he has also won against formerly unbeaten Nicholas Walters who was retired by his corner at the end of the seventh round, in a similar fight to that against Sosa.

When asked of his skills, ‘Hi-tech’ has said he has always wanted to bring something new to the ring and takes inspiration from classic greats such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. But it was 2016 where he really stepped into the spotlight, as discussed above. “He speaks a different language and I’m not talking about Russian or Ukrainian,” said Jim Lampley on ‘The Fight Game’ for HBO. “ [He makes] this difficult sport look ridiculously easy.”

So where now? How great is Lomachenko to become? It is very difficult in these situations to not jump ahead of the game for many; imaginations running wild for a man who no matter how amazing, has only has nine pro fights. There have been many that have been hyped as the best, but very few can stay consistent – think Naseem Hamed.

Carl Frampton, Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and GGG himself are all names that have been thrown into the mix recently. So where does Vasyl Lomachenko go from here?

Frampton, very honestly, has said he doesn’t fancy his chances, and he certainly is not a fighter who backs away from a challenge lightly.

“I’ll tell you about Lomachenko – he is an unbelievable fighter,” Frampton told the Irish News.
“I would fight Lomachenko – hand on heart, I wouldn’t win, but I’d have a go. He’s amazing, he’s got unique style…he’s just an amazing talent.”

Egis Klimas, Lomachenko’s manager has swiftly dismissed the idea of Terence Crawford too. “Fighting a champion who’s two weight classes [above him], I think that would be suicide. It would be crazy,” he told BoxingScene.com.
Surely, top of Lomachenko’s hit list has to be Orlando Salido. Having beaten Lomachenko back in 2014, albeit controversially, surely at this stage, revenge must be first on his list before aiming at championship fights or stepping up a weight division.

Mikey Garcia is also very much on Lomachenko’s radar and would be a huge fight that would definitely pull in a huge worldwide audience. Unbeaten at 36-0 however, Garcia would be rather massive step up for Lomachenko who said he will step up to light weight should no current 130lb champions come forward. It also raises the very interesting possibility of Lomachenko becoming a three-weight world champion in only ten pro fights. “This is the fight that will make history. I want to make that fight right away,” he said after his battle with Sosa. However, Garcia is adamant that Lomachenko needs to prove himself at 135lbs by winning a title, before he even gets a look in with the American. “Right now, if I fight Lomachenko and I happen to beat him and knock him out, people would discredit me, saying I was too big, that it’s not his weight class So let him take a fight at 135lbs, have a fight or two, a title fight so he can actually be a bigger name,” he said on the possibility.

Jorge Linares is another blockbuster fight that has been mentioned. The WBA lightweight championship star is one of the most highly ranked boxers at 135lbs who has a very fast style which is comparable inn many ways to the Ukrainian. “He is a very, very good fighter, very fast fighter, very intelligent,” he told ESPN. “But I feel I am faster. He fights with good angles, but I can show things he hasn’t seen with my angles and my speed.”

Terry Flanagan would also be an option, bringing Lomachenko possibly over to the UK and helping to build his exposure over here. Mayweather’s protégé, Gervonta Davis would also be a very competitive fight that would give both men the opportunity to unify.

So, there is certainly much discussion and interest in where Vasyl Lomachenko can go next. Asked on his fan appeal by Max Kellerman after his fight against Sosa he said: “It’ hard to say, maybe they like what I do in the ring or maybe it’s because I’m good looking.”

Vasyl Lomachenko you may be good looking but it is certainly not your face that has got fight fans very very excited about your future and I for one cannot wait to see what comes next!

By Charlotte Prior. You can follow her on Twitter on @CharlotteLily89

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