By: Hans Themistode
The emotions of fight fans were on a perpetual rollercoaster when Vasiliy Lomachenko took on Teofimo Lopez just a few months ago. During much of their build-up, Lomachenko talked a good game and seemed as motivated as ever to shut the mouth of Lopez.
The moment the opening bell rang, the nearly 3 million viewers who tuned in to watch their undisputed lightweight contest waited patiently for things to heat. Yet as the rounds ticked by, many were confused as to what the former two-time Olympic gold medalist was doing.
Lomachenko, 32, spent the vast majority of the first half of their contest with his hands in his pockets as he refused to engage. While he managed to pick up the pace considerably in the second half, he was dealt the second loss of his career.
For months now, both fans and media members have been perplexed with what exactly he was trying to accomplish. Now however, Lomachenko has pulled back the curtains on his game plan heading in and explained what went wrong.
“I had to make him move forward,” explained Lomachenko during an interview posted on his YouTube page. “I had to make some combinations while making him miss the punches. The only thing was that I couldn’t move forward at the very beginning. I couldn’t feel the distance at the very beginning. I needed to keep him off-balance and start attacking but I couldn’t feel it. But when I felt it in the second part of the fight I started coming out more active.”
In addition to having difficulty finding his range early on, Lomachenko revealed a busted shoulder. Something he had surgery on the very next day.
Lomachenko may have looked like his dominant self during the second half of their showdown, giving up so many rounds from the outset proved too costly as his undisputed lightweight dreams were shattered. When the Ukrainian looks back at his performance, he points to his injured shoulder as one of the contributing factors for his defeat.
Finding an early rhythm and letting his hands go would have benefitted him immensely, but it was difficult to do so as he was forced to throw his initial game plan in the trash due to his injury.
“We couldn’t use the tactic we used before I got injured. After I got injured, we changed it. I had to be careful and not get injured within the first six rounds. That’s why I was careful during the first part of the fight. Then, I realized that I was losing in the first part so I started coming out more aggressively. I started thinking about it after the fifth round. I understood I needed to come out, that I couldn’t continue losing rounds. The shoulder didn’t hurt during the first six rounds. I didn’t punch much though. It started hurting in rounds eight and nine when I started landing shots.”
Despite being forced to use an entirely different approach, Lomachenko is steadfast in his belief that he should have been crowned the winner.
The 32-year-old concedes that Lopez won most of the early rounds but he is also under the belief that he dominated the second half. While the numbers were all in favor of Lopez on the night, Lomachenko simply asks that everyone rewind the tape and look at the damage that both inflicted on one another.
“If we compare how much he damaged me within the first six rounds and how I damaged him for the last six rounds I think these are two different things.”