Lomachenko: The Forgotten Fighter?
By Joe Alexander
There is an innate and almost genetic fickleness amongst sporting enthusiasts, and this is certainly the case with boxing. The immediate future is naturally and often the only focus. One loss for a fighter can topple them from unbeatable to forgotten, out of sight and out of mind.
Fight fans are passionate, and always chasing the next fix provided by a big fight. Hypothetical matchmaking is a common occurrence – it provides endless talking points, and allows fans to debate and develop opinions on fights yet to be made.
Off the back of Ryan Garcia’s stoppage victory over Luke Campbell, the lightweight division has become the most fascinating division in boxing today. Satisfying the appetite of every boxing fan’s hypothetical matchmaking. Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney are the main names in conversation.
An astounding cluster of fighters, high in profile and young in age. Fuelling the fire, none have been either short of words or backwards in coming forwards. Garcia was expected to take on his mandatory fight against Haney next but in recent days, Gervonta Davis has become the front-runner to face Garcia.
Unsurprisingly these four are the main conversation topics among fans. Harshly but understandably one man has been forgotten and is seemingly no longer in the mix, Vasyl Lomachenko.
Before the Lopez fight, Lomachenko was deemed a top five pound for pound fighter. A special talent who could do no wrong in the eyes of many. His fight against Luke Campbell showed the early signs of Lomachenko perhaps declining and no longer being his former invincible self.
Lomachenko never really got going against Lopez. He is a notoriously slow starter but against Lopez, it almost seemed like he was unable to figure him out. The younger Lopez was unphased and seemed too energetic and powerful in the early rounds. The most emphatic round was the 12th, a must-win round for Lomachenko. Lopez found a new level storming through the round.
Overall, an unexpected outcome with signs of Lomachenko fading from what he once was. However, it wasn’t a completely one-sided affair and most of the rounds were tight.
Now it seems that Lomachenko has almost been dismissed. Mentioned less when discussing the potential fights in the lightweight division. Amazing in a way that a fighter of Lomachenko’s pedigree is now on the sidelines in public discussion. One loss against a brilliant Lopez should not mean the end of Lomachenko.
An injured shoulder now operated on and presumably ready to go again, Lomachenko should be considered as the second-ranked fighter in this division.
It makes sense for the group of young American fighters to all be calling one another out, bravado and ego in control. There are almost two views to take on one of these fighting Lomachenko.
On one hand, he is still an elite fighter and can provide the first loss to any of these fighters. It may not fit into the one-upmanship of the mentioned cluster of fighters. But there is a way to beat Lomachenko now and a win against him would propel them to an even higher level. A massive name in decline could very well be worth the gamble.
For Lomachenko, he needs a fight as soon as possible. In this fight, he needs to put on the type of masterful display that we have come to know and expect. But most importantly a reminder to fans and other lightweights that he is still a force in the division.
Without a rematch clause, it seems he has somewhat shot himself in the foot as overturning the loss against Lopez would put him back to number one in the division. This, however, doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. Lomachenko will now need to look elsewhere but as mentioned previously, finding himself in a catch 22 when trying to get into the mix with the four fighters who look the future of the division.
Although it is the nature of boxing to push aside a losing fighter, we should not be doing this where Lomachenko is concerned. He’s a true great of the sport and one loss should not spell the end of big fights for him. The intelligence and experience that he possesses show that he is more than capable of having further opportunities at world title level.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank