By: Sean Crose
It’s a story as old as the sport itself. The established great versus the determined up and comer. This sort of thing can be traced back to at least the time of the Sullivan-Corbett fight of 1892 – or was it the Ryan-Sullivan fight of 1886? No matter. This Saturday night’s highly anticipated throwdown between lightweight champ Vasyl Lomachenko and undefeated power punching hotshot Teofimo Lopez is one of the most anticipated fights of the year for a reason. Not only does it pit two of the most notable and talented fighters in the sport against one another – it continues the timeless tradition of the established champ throwing down with the young lion.
With but a single loss to his name, the insanely impressive defending champion Lomachenko has possibly represented a high watermark of ring skill with his virtuoso performances of movements and aggression. He’s been beat by Orlando Salido, sure, but Salido walked into the ring about 20 pounds above the limit that night. Plus he cheated like crazy. Plus he still almost lost. And if that wasn’t enough, Loma – as he’s called – emerged from the experience a better fighter than before. That’s saying a lot for a man who might well have had the most impressive amateur career in history.
As for the young challenger, Lopez is brash, powerful and exceedingly confident. Another something worth keeping in mind is the fact Lomachenko hasn’t been able to overwhelm lightweights like he did with fighters in smaller weight divisions. It’s been suggested and said that Loma is now fighting at about as heavy a weight as possible in the 135 pound division. That essentially means that, great as he is, Lomachenko is not at his optimal best as a lightweight. Against an opponent like Lopez, that might prove telling.
No matter which way the fight turns out, however, fans are fortunate that it’s appearing live on free television. That sort of things is a rarity in this era of pay per view events, where fights that arguably once would have appeared on a Saturday afternoon now cost close to a hundred dollars to view. Even major fights in the tradition of Lomachenko-Lopez, where the seasoned great faces the rising star, have long come with a pricetag. Not so in this case.
In some instances, breaking from tradition is a good thing.