Vasyl Lomachenko is Hi-Tec; Dominates but Has Questions Moving Forward
By: Kirk Jackson
Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko improved his professional record to 9-1 (7 KO’s) defending his WBO super featherweight title against Miguel Marrioga 25-3 (21 KO’s) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Ca.
This event broadcasted across the ESPN network, as Top Rank Promotions attempts to emulate the Premier Boxing Champions formula; this was the first of two high-profile airings this August.
“I never saw anything like this. He’s unbelievable,” said Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum to ESPN.com.
“Not only does he have the knowledge, he has the skill set that I’ve never seen before. Fast, reflexes, everything and he really entertains. Who else did that? Muhammad Ali.”
Let’s not forget in the past, Arum echoed the same sentiments about Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Being referenced to any of the four aforementioned legends is a great compliment either way. However, in light of Lomachenko’s brilliant performance, questions remain.
Although some ESPN analysts and other pundits are quick to announce Lomachenko as the No. 1 pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, Lomachenko enthusiasts conveniently leave out or overlook Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Keith Thurman and Mikey Garcia.
Crawford by the way happens to fight on the very same network of ESPN Aug. 19.
After conquering the lightweight division, capturing the WBO, The Ring and lineal lightweight titles, Crawford moved up to super lightweight and aims to unify the division by attaining all four titles from the sanctioning bodies.
A feat only accomplished in the recent alphabet era by Joe Calzaghe and Bernard Hopkins.
Ward defeated another fellow pound-for-pound fighter Sergey Kovalev in back to back bouts over the course of seven months.
He is the unified light heavyweight champion of the world and prior to that, won the “Super Six Tournament,” virtually cleaned out a stacked super middleweight division and ruled that very same division with iron fists.
Rigondeaux dominates opponents with skill and bends their will as Lomachenko does. The Cuban born star dominated the super bantamweight division for just over half a decade and easily dismantled Nonito Donaire, who at the time was considered the best fighter in boxing pound-for-pound.
Thurman is regarded by most as the best fighter in the best division as of now. Historically, the welterweight division produces great fighters and great matches.
Thurman added another trinket to his collection capturing the WBC welterweight title while defeating undefeated two-division champion Danny Garcia in the process.
Mikey Garcia is a two-division champion, recently embarking on his third division while soundly defeating four-division champion Adrien Broner in the process. Garcia is undefeated, highly skilled and wants to fight Lomachenko.
Determining the best fighter pound-for-pound is not an easy task.
The measure of skill is subjective and up for interpretation. But the professional accolades and accomplishments undoubtedly favor Ward in this instance – and the same can be echoed for virtually every other fighter considered on the mythical pound-for-pound list.
For the Lomachenko contingent, this isn’t intended to bash the Ukrainian star. He is clearly one of the best talents in boxing and one of the best fighters.
But it is a disservice to the sport and other top level fighters who proved their worth over this past decade, to prematurely crown Lomachenko pound-for-pound king. He still has to add on to his resume before he takes the throne.
Furthering our focus on Lomachenko, what is next for him?
The narrative promoted for Lomachenko is he is so skilled, so transcendent with ability, there isn’t a fighter with desire to face him. That’s the perception, but not necessarily reality.
It sounds good from his perspective to state there is a lack of competition or willing volunteers – and then to put on performances as he did against Marrioga.
But if we really analyze the situation, there’s other layers to look at.
Marriaga is not ranked within the top 10 of the junior lightweight division. Marriaga is also coming off a sound defeat against Oscar Valdez via unanimous decision this past April.
Prior to the fight against Lomachenko Marriaga was ranked 27th according to Boxrec. Lomachenko’s opponent prior to Marriaga, Jason Sosa, is not an elite fighter at any stretch as well.
It’s one thing to look amazing against standard competition, but it’s another thing to do so against the very best of the division.
There’s an argument there are willing combatants ready to fight Lomachenko; Garcia, Rigondeaux, Gary Russell Jr. and a few others.
Russell Jr. has been quoted as saying, “I don’t care if he [Lomachenko] loses his next 10 fights, before my career is over he’ll have to see me again. The people didn’t see the Gary Russell that they’re used to seeing.”
— Guillermo Rigondeaux (@RigoElChacal305) June 28, 2017
These are valid options and Garcia mentioned key points in regards to Lomachenko’s issue in regards to finding suitable opponents.
An argument can be made in Lomachenko’s favor in regards to guys not wanting to fight him, is if we look at the risk vs. reward element and the value Lomachenko brings in regards to money.
This is a dilemma Floyd Mayweather faced early in his career. The same notion can be argued for Marvin Hagler and Rigondeaux currently.
As Garcia alluded to, there is the question of drawing power. Can Lomachenko draw crowds or sellout arenas? What are his ratings television wise, is there pay-per-view potential? What is the budget looking like?
Lomachenko’s last HBO affair against Jason Sosa was an average of 832,000 viewers tuning in to watch Lomachenko defend his WBO world super featherweight title as the main event of HBO’s “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader.
Lomachenko has comparable numbers to Rigondeaux if that is of importance.
— Guillermo Rigondeaux (@RigoElChacal305) August 6, 2017
More people have access to ESPN so in theory, this recent showing against Marriroga should enhance Lomachenko’s brand.
If Lomachenko’s handlers are having such difficulty finding guys to fight him, what are they doing to resolve the issues behind it?
When it comes to negotiation, are they submitting low-ball offers? Nicholas Walters mentioned that issue in the past, as did Rigondeaux.
Orlando Salido mentioned the same. For those keeping track, Salido is the only man to defeat Lomachenko in the professional ranks.
Although chasing a rematch with Salido may appear hollow, because with every day passing is another day closer to retirement for the battle-worn veteran Salido. Lomachenko mentioned a lack of interest in a Salido rematch, as it appears to be a moot point.
Networks, promoters, budgeting, all appear to be the key issues with Lomachenko vs. better quality opposition.
If these are the issues behind the scenes, then we may never see the match-ups we want to see. That means everything the fighters and promoters are saying is essentially lip service.
The well informed boxing fan would love to see Lomachenko vs. Mikey Garcia or Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux.
An eventual showdown with Gervonta Davis or Terence Crawford sounds fascinating as well.
Unfortunately, the well informed boxing fans can’t dictate which match-ups will transpire and when. We can only hope extraordinary talents such as Lomachenko is afforded the opportunities to continually showcase his skills at the highest level.
Jeff Horn: Pacquiao’s Next Opponent
Jeff Horn: Pacquiao’s Next Opponent
By: Sean Crose
Sixteen wins. One draw. No Loses. Eleven of those wins by knockout. On paper, at least, Australian welterweight Jeff Horn looks to be a decent enough fighter. On July second, however, the little known WBO challenger will be facing the great Manny Pacquiao – on basic cable, no less – in front of around fifty thousand people (if not more) in his homeland for Pacquiao’s title. Does he stand a chance? Does he even belong in the same ring as the fighter known as PacMan? Well, Horn is more deserving of his big boxing opportunity than Conor McGregor is – but that’s really not saying much. So what’s the deal with this little known fighter whose about to step onto the big stage in a very big way?
Well, for one thing, he’s never fought outside of his homeland, unless you count some scraps in New Zealand. That means he’s far from the global player that his opponent is. What’s more, a full 25% of his wins have come against men who entered the ring having lost more professional fights than they had won. Taking things a step further, Horn has never faced a true name opponent. Some Pacquiao opponents, like Chris Algieri, were knocked for having less than impressive resumes, but Algieri had at least bested the then feared Ruslan Provodnikov (albeit controversially) before facing the Filipino legend in a high level bout.
On the other hand, Horn is a strong, straight puncher with an aggressive, come forward style. He can employ his jab as a measuring stick and most certainly knows how to finish an opponent of. He’s a tough guy, make no mistake about it. He can also be a lot of fun to watch. Those of us who can remember those exciting, though perhaps not great, fighters who regularly appeared on network sports programs in the 70s-90s can both recall and appreciate the kind of fighter Horn seems to be. Then again, no one has seen Horn rise to the occasion the way he will have to against Pacquiao. Some fighters can simply find a way to truly grasp the moment, sure (Buster Douglas being the most obvious example), but is Horn among that small number?
There are, however, some indicators to at least suggest Horn’s Olympian climb may be easier than thought, prime among them, Pacquiao’s age and outside the ring interests. Most all would agree that Pacquiao is past his prime. At 38, his best days may well be behind him. What’s more, Pacquiao’s job as a Filipino politician must take a whole lot of time and energy out of the man. Will these things come into play when he faces Horn? They may very well. Having said that, it’s hard to see Horn scoring the upset win on the 2nd. Manny is simply too fast, and Horn just doesn’t appear to have the skill set.
Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?
Thurman Made a Statement, but What Now for the Champ?
By Harry Hogg
Keith Thurman (28-0)claimed a split decision victory over Danny Garcia (33-1) in New York on Saturday night to unify the WBA (super) and WBC welterweight titles. The victoryin front a record crowd at the Barclays center consolidates Thurman’s position as the number one fighter in the 147lbs division.
Thurman’s display was well worth the victory, his incredible movement and eye catching punch power was there for all to see. In the end he was far too classy fora pretty ordinary Garcia, who seemed to lack any real ideas as to how to deal with Thurman.
Thurman’s performance was not without its flaws however. Seemingly cruising towards victory, Thurman faded late on giving Garcia the last few rounds. In the end this almost cost Thurman on the cards. He was in control for the majority of the fight and should have claimed the win unanimously. But his reluctance to engage late on and tendency to play safe almost backfired on the unbeaten American.
Never the less there is no denying he was the better fighter and deserved to be the first unifiedwelterweight champion since Floyd Mayweather in 2015. He was smart and picked his shots well, combined with some impressive footwork and movement, he was difficult to pin down for a largely inactive Garcia. The Philadelphiaman was resilient and kept coming forward, but very rarely troubledThurman.
What is next?
Thurman is now the number 1 fighter at 147, and is the man to beat. And while Garcia expressed his desire for a rematch, it is difficult to see this one happening again. The fight started well enough but never really kicked into gear, with Garcia leaving himself far too much to do in the later rounds.
But the American will surely be keeping a close eye on events in London in May, when Kell Brook defends his IBF belt against the dangerous Errol Spence Jr.The prospect of a second unification fight in a year would prove tempting for Thurman should he face the winner.
Or he could turn to the WBO champion in Filipino Legend Manny Pacquiao, whose April 23rd bout against Amir Khan is still without a venue.
Before any thoughts of another unification however, Lamont Peterson is likely to be announced as the next mandatory challenger for Thurman. Peterson, who picked up the WBA (regular) belt recently by beating David Avanesyan, would prove a tricky test for the new unified king.
The possibility of Thurman moving up to 154 would not be out of the question either. The champ looked bigger and stronger in comparison to Garcia on Saturday, and it would seem like he would have little trouble making the 154 limit. If he chooses to do so, a huge fight against Saúl Canelo Álvarez or Erislandy Laracould present itself.
Whatever Thurman decides do, he has put himself in a position of power and there are endless options open to him. He is the number one in the division and the route to welterweight supremacy will go through him.
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez: Whoever is Next, is Next
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez: Whoever is Next, is Next
By: Francisco Martinez
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez the hot trailblazing southpaw, Top Rank promotions signee, Mexican import who hails from Sinaloa, Mazatlan and current 168lbs WBO world champion aims for unifications in his division coming off of hand surgery and wants to waste no time. Penciled in for a April 22nd title defense at the StubHub center in Carson, California against European Max Bursak. Zurdo Ramírez might just be the most naturally talented fighter in his division standing at 6′ 2” tall the naturally talented southpaw aims to prove why he’s the best 168lbs.
“I’m prepared for anybody, anyone” immediately after Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last fight and win Zurdo Ramirez took to social media by challenging Chavez Jr. congratulating him for his victory and asking him “Do you want to fight with a real champ?” a challenge not acknowledge by Chavez Jr. and his team who had Canelo on their sights. Leaving Zurdo Ramirez with no real direction having won his WBO title what he thought would help lure the top 168lbs into the ring but instead turning him into the most avoided fighter in his division.
His trainer Hector Zapari hopes unifications are what this year holds “Those are the fights that we’re looking for. He’s ready for those fighters. We trust in our promoter Bob Arum that we’re gonna get those fights. We are willing to fight any champion. We won’t underestimate our next opponent because he wants to be a world champion too. All opponents are dangerous but it’s a motivation to get pass this fighter to make the unifications possible” as for Zurdo Ramirez surgically repaired hand
Senior trainer and father of Hector, Jesus Zapari had this to say in regards to the surgery “Doctor Steve Shin did a very good job. I think he is a lot better now because he is more confident in his hand before the surgery he was hurt for a while and he wasn’t confident when he punched so I think he is a lot better now than before the surgery” Hector Zapari added this to the conversation “I feel Zurdo is stronger because mentally he’s much, much better. He was active the whole time. That was good for him because he didn’t stop training after the surgery”
It seems Top Rank promotions and premier boxing champions are open to working with each other making such unification match ups in the 168lbs division a great possibility with the WBC title now vacant that Badou Jack has made a move up in weight to the 175lbs class for a rumored lucrative showdown with Adonis Stevenson. Zurdo Ramirez versus IBF kingpin James Degale becomes the most attractive fight at 168lbs not forgetting about the WBA title which belongs to German Tyrone Zeuge who fights exclusively in his native home country which could bring up serious disadvantages for both Ramirez or Degale if they so choose to unify with Zeuge we would imagine bringing him to the states would prove to be difficult as the Germans in boxing do have somewhat of a no travel policy in means to keep their title as proven throughout history time and time again. Somewhat of holding the title “hostage” with favorable judging back home.
Gilberto Zurdo Ramirez wants the big fights. Wants to unify the division. Wants to prove he is the face of Mexican boxing although he is aware those bragging rights will most likely go to the winner of Saul Canelo Alvarez vs The Son Of The Legend, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in what is being dubbed Mexican Civil War. Zurdo Ramírez and his team are confident in their abilities and skills and are willing to wait for their time while keeping their eyes on a mega showdown with Gennady Golovkin one that was talked about between Ramirez promoter Bob Arum & Tom Loeffler who manages Golovkin. A future fight both promoters do hold in mind as a possibility.
Hector Zapari had this to say in regards of the winner between Saul Alvarez & Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. “Let me tell you who’s gonna be the leader of Mexico…” points at Zurdo Ramirez “…right here. He’s gonna fight with true champions. No marketing” Zurdo Ramírez adds “I’m gonna prove to myself and to the people that they’ll see a stronger Zurdo Ramirez, a faster Zurdo Ramirez and better than ever”
April 22nd Zurdo Ramirez defends his WBO title for the first time at the StubHub in Carson, CA a venue and crowd Zurdo feels will help propel his superstardom into the next level expressing that Los Angeles has the best fans in boxing Hector Zapari adds “Los Angeles, Southern California is like our second home. We always train in Mazatlan (Sinaloa) but the last 2 months, 10 weeks we always come here to California. It’s one of the best fanbase in the world, boxing”
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Update: Pacquiao Now Running Poll For Next Opponent
Update: Pacquiao Now Running Poll For Next Opponent
As if Manny Pacquiao’s tweet on Saturday that he’d be fighting in the United Arab Emirates – as opposed to Australia – wasn’t enough, PacMan returned on Sunday to set the fight world abuzz again.
“Who do you want me to fight next in the UAE?” he tweeted.
Under that question were four choices for fans to pick from: Jeff Horn, Amir Khan, Bud Crawford and Kell Brook. Indeed, it looks like Horn may no longer be a shoe in for Pacquiao’s next opponent. As of press time, fans had 18 hours left to make their choice. If this all sounds a bit familiar, that’s because Floyd Mayweather ran a similar poll a few years back – only the winner of that poll, Amir Khan, never got around to facing Mayweather. That particular honor went to Marcos Maidana.
To add to all the intrigue or would-be intrigue, Kell Brook made it pretty clear on Twitter Sunday that he’s all set to face Errol Spence for his IBF Welterweight championship. “All that work just to give it up?” Brook tweeted. “Never ducked a challenge in my life. Here to give the fans what they want @ErrolSpenceJr you are next.” Perhaps Pacquiao can make him change his mind.
Who Should Terence Crawford fight next?
Who should Terence Crawford fight next?
By: Harry Hogg
Terence Crawford took his record to 30-0 on Saturday night after an impressive demolition of John Molina Jr to retain his WBO and WBC junior welterweight titles. However since being named fighter of the year back in 2014 the 29 year has not fought the type of calibre fighter that could force him into the argument of being the pound for pound best in the world. We look at the potential opponents Crawford could face next.
Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2 38KO)
Without doubt Pacquiao is the obvious choice, the Filipino legend is the superstar name Crawford needs to put himself at the forefront of the sport. Pacquiao has looked excellent this year since returning from his short retirement. Victories over Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas have rekindled talk of a rematch against Floyd Mayweather. But with this looking increasingly unlikely Pacquiao could well turn to Crawford in what would be a true super fight, also one in which many believe Crawford would be the slight favourite.
Ricky Burns (41-5-1 14KO)
If Crawford wants to stay at 140 and unify the division then a rematch with Ricky Burns could well be his next fight. The American made light work of Burns at Lightweight back in 2014 and Crawford would likely breeze past the Brit again. Crawford has clearly proven he is the outstanding light welterweight in the world, surely his time at 140 has come to an end.
Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1 5KO)
At the age of 28 the WBO junior lightweight champion is widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the world despite only having 8 professional fights. Lomachenko looked spectacular against Nicolas Walters’s last time out and does not appear to have any obvious weakness. A step up in weight to face Crawford may well be too much too soon for the Ukrainian though.
Errol Spence Jr. (21-0 18KO)
Arguably the most dangerous potential opponent for Crawford, Errol Spence Jr is incredibly talented and possess immense power. Spence is knocking on the door for a world title opportunity at welterweight and has expressed his desire to face Kell Brook in 2017. From Crawford’s point of view it would represent a huge risk and one which his promoter Bob Arum would be unlikely to take.