By: Sean Crose
While war continued to tear apart his homeland, the legendary Vasyl Lomachenko returned to the ring Saturday. After spending time back in Ukraine to take part in the effort against Russian forces, Lomachenko slipped through the ropes at the Madison Square Garden Theater this weekend to fight for the first time in over a year. His opponent? The undefeated Massachusetts native Jamaine Ortiz. A win would place Lomachenko in line for a major fight against one of the lightweight division’s bigger names. A loss, simply put, would be crushing. The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds.
The 16-2 Lomachenko attempted to work his way inside during the first while the 16-0-1 Ortiz put to use a sharp jab. Was Ortiz’s size advantage looking like a problem for the fighter known as Loma? In between rounds it was clear he had a considerable bruise near his right eye. The second round was interesting. Lomachenko aggressively went at his man, but Ortiz was able to land well. Ortiz’ blistering jab continued to serve him well in the third, though Lomachenko was able to land well on several occasions.
The fourth ended up being a brutal, high octane affair, one which Ortiz may have taken with a late round flurry of blows. The fifth was a fascinating three minutes of action. Lomachenko was landing the better punches, but Ortiz was the far more active of the two fighters. Lomachenko appeared to be sharp shooting in the sixth, though Ortiz was most certainly in the fight. In the seventh it was Ortiz who was showing a bruise around the eye. Was Lomachenko active enough to be winning the rounds, though?
The eighth round was wild, looking at times more like a brawl than a contest between two highly skilled boxers. The ninth saw each man slow it down a bit. Still, it was a matter of Ortiz’ aggression versus Lomachenko’s precision. The tenth finally saw Lomachenko appear to dominate. Was the man’s persistence paying off? The eleventh looked like many of the previous rounds, with Loma attacking and Ortiz trying to catch him coming in. The twelfth and final round saw Lomachenko continue to sharp shoot while Ortiz tried to land effectively on his man.
The judges ended up ruling it for Lomachenko via unanimous decision.
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