By Sean Crose
Let’s face it – Vasyl Lomachenko’s stratospheric rise was always a bit off-putting. Seriously, the guy had one fight – just one fight – to his name when he got a crack at the WBO Featherweight title. It was unheard of. It was beyond unheard of. In fact, it was literally a first. Now that Lomachenko’s been defeated by Orlando Salido in his first title bout, however, it may literally be a last.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Lomachenko said before the fight bout he was indeed cocky regarding his ability. No kidding. The guy was built up to be a titan of the sport before he even had stepped into a pro ring for the second time. While it’s true Lomachenko’s amateur record was impressive, the amateurs ain’t the pros. Lomachenko knows that now, of course. Too bad he found out too late.
The truth is that the Ukranian fighter is indeed talented. His hands are lightning fast, he’s aggressive and he can hit. He also has a ton of heart. Indeed, the guy may have been the best amateur fighter EVER. But none of that mattered Saturday night in Texas. Orlando Salido stepped into the ring and took the fight straight to Lomachenko, right from the opening bell.
Of course Salido didn’t exactly win the fight fair and square. The guy was about as dirty as they come on Saturday. He hit low and hit low consistently. Referee Laurence Cole didn’t seem to notice, or to much care, so Salido whacked Lomachenko below the beltline throughout the entire bout (to be fair, Cole allowed Lomchenko to hold excessively all evening, too).
What’s more, Salido showed up heavy for the fight. Really heavy. One hundred forty-seven pounds heavy. That’s how much a fighter is supposed to show up to fight Manny Pacquiao, not a featherweight contender. It paid off for Salido, though. Granted, he’s not supposed to keep his title, even with the victory, but he succeeded in shocking the world, and undoubtedly he’s satisfied with his work on Saturday.
Then again, Salido should be satisfied. He may have been overweight. He may have fought dirty. But he still fought some kind of fight. He really looked like a man who was in the ring with a boy at times. In fact, Salido made Lomachenko look exactly like what he was – a glorified amateur.
The question now is, where to from here for Vasyl Lomachenko? At the moment he stands as a valuable lesson to other amateurs who look to make a mark in the pro ranks – and nothing more. This is not what Bob Arum and the folks at HBO had in mind. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be what anyone had in mind.
It is what it is, though. Lomachenko and the folks at Top Rank are left with egg on their faces, They can either wipe it off and move on, or just live with the embarrassing experience. For the record, fans might enjoy a rematch between he and Salido within the next few months. There’s little doubt Salido would enjoy the money and attention.
As for Lomachenko, well, why WOULDN’T he want a rematch? He had Salido hurt, badly hurt, at the end of the bout, after all. What’s more, a fighter can learn a lot when he’s taken to school. He might just come in new and improved, the fighter everyone expected him to be to begin with.
And that’s pretty much the point. Lomachenko has his whole career ahead of him. And a great career it may well end up being. For now, though, he has to deal with the consequences of his own hubris.