Martin H. (San Diego, CA): Vasyl Lomachenko is the most decorated Amateur and Olympian Boxer ever; and after 12 fights, one of the most decorated Professionals, as well. Is it a stretch to say that we are watching the best boxer in the history of the sport?
Vito W. (ESB): I think it’s beyond a stretch! Simply for the fact that it’s far too early to make such a huge statement, considering some of the incredible talents that have graced the sport. One thing the “Sugar” Ray Robinson’s and Floyd Mayweather’s of the world had going for them that Lomachenko doesn’t (at this stage) is longevity. Lomachenko hasn’t demonstrated the ability to fight at this high level for 5 years as a pro. How would we know what to expect in 10, 15 years down the line? I think without doubt, he’s arguably the most fascinating prospect we’ve seen in the past decade or so. But to say unequivocally, “the best ever”, after 12 pro fights? No, I can’t co-sign that, and here’s a deeper explanation for why:
Many of the comparisons I see have been between he and Floyd Mayweather. One of the more popular ones say that Mayweather didn’t become a three division Champion until his 34th pro fight; while Lomachenko earned this distinction in only his 12th pro fight. Reality reveals the fact that Lomachenko earned that distinction at age 30, while Floyd did it at age 28. The 400 plus victories as an amateur serves as both a curse and a blessing for Loma. While it’s an amazing footnote to his pugilistic career, his pro success has come much later than most. Without even getting into “Sugar” Ray Robinson and other legends, the argument that Lomachenko has accomplished more than Mayweather falls flat. Here’s another reason why:
The one thing that gives Mayweather a spot at the table in the “TBE” argument for me is the fact that he maintained the same level of greatness (offense and defense) from day one to his final days. We’ve never seen that before. The statistical domination was the same against Hall of Fame level fighters as it was against “C” level fighters. In only 12 pro fights, we’ve already seen “the Matrix” held to an abysmal 16% landing clip (Rigondeaux fight). He followed that by allowing his next opponent (Linares) to land at a rate greater than 40% (power punches landed) in 5 of the 10 rounds fought. This excludes the fact that he had to get off the canvas to win. We never saw EITHER of those things in Mayweather’s entire 50 fight, 20 year career.
So, I think we need to temper the “TBE” enthusiasm a bit. Lomachenko is clearly the most fascinating prospect to enter the sport over the past decade or so. But how he evolves from here will tell us where he belongs in the end. Remember…..Pacquiao started his career at 106 lbs, with a 5’5″ frame. An inch or two smaller than Loma. He won a catchweight title at Jr. Middleweight, as well as a full Welterweight. Can we truly discount that level of greatness in favor of someone whom fans are already saying is “too small to go up in weight”? I care far less about his amateur stuff. To earn the true title (TBE), he’ll have to dominate like this for another decade without blemishes; or avenging any blemishes he does get. Anything less fails the test!
Chris N. (Brooklyn, NYC): Who on the radar do you think gives Lomachenko a tough night out?
Vito W. (ESB): All depends on how much Lomachenko and his team are willing to test their guy. What bothers me is that we’ve heard fans use the term “greatness” in reference to Loma from day one, but when it comes to him doing the things that defend the use of that term, there seems to be a certain level of resistance. Chavez Sr., Duran, Mayweather, Pacquiao, and a ton of others tested their greatness by moving up beyond the brink of their limits. In most of those cases it resulted in losses, but the warrior in them that led them to do so allowed them to maintain their status. In the case of Lomachenko, I think we’ll need to see some of that too if we are to ever see him actually tested.
As he has moved up in weight and faced a stiffer level of competition, we’ve noticed a few loopholes. He’s still fascinating to watch, and incredible to analyze on film. But that all goes down a grade as he starts to truly test himself against the elite. For now, I think the guy on my radar that could give him the most trouble is Mikey Garcia. The short right hand that Linares used to put him down was there ALL NIGHT LONG when you look at the film. He didn’t capitalize. Mikey Garcia has the high ring IQ and accuracy to land that punch early and often. But can he deal with the ‘Matrix’ swarm? Can Mikey handle the angles? Flipside….can Loma handle his power? As he’s a bigger puncher than Linares, who clearly stunned Loma a few times.
As of now, I think Lomachenko has given himself the platform to be viewed as the (mythical) #1 P4P fighter in the sport. By the end of a fight with Garcia, some could realize why I never put as much stock into the ‘mythical’ thing as I do the true fundamental skills of a fighter. Loma is more fascinating to watch, but Garcia is UNEQUIVOCALLY a better fundamentally skilled fighter. He doesn’t get hit as much….but he hits you as much. We have seen him sharp, but the level of concentration he’d use to prepare for a test like Loma could bring out a side of him that none of us knew existed….to include Loma. It’s an incredible fight, and I hope we get to see it.
Caesar G. (Reseda, CA): How do you see the Sports current P4P list?
Vito W. (ESB): I’ve never been a fan of the ‘mythical’ list we hear on TV and see in the articles because I think it’s more based on star power and a fighters ability to put cheeks-in-seats, rather than actual talent. That said, for the sake of the question, I can definitely answer both angles. The mythical list right now has to place Lomachenko at the top. He doesn’t have the GGG type following, but his team has been less political and more willing to place him in with the best on the radar. Each time he not only passed the test, but also impressed! He’s incredible! So mythically, I’d have to say Loma #1. Following him, in no specific order to round out the top (5) would be Crawford, Golovkin, Spence, and Joshua.
Now, if we’re talking pure fundamentals and skills, my list is totally different. Personally, I’d place Crawford up top. Offensively and defensively, he just seems to have a better command of his attributes and how to use them to his advantage, despite not having the same talent as the others (speedy combinations, etc). Next would be Lomachenko, followed by Mikey Garcia. These are the only (3) fighters I think actually rate use of the term. There are several other amazing fighters on the radar, but these three are pure skillsman in my book. Everyone else on the radar is just ‘fun’ to watch! Guys like Joshua, Wilder, Spence, Jarrett Hurd, the Charlo Brothers, SSR….those guys are AMAZING to watch. But fundamentals is a different conversation IMO.
Rod Buddha (Ft. Lauderdale): Any chance we get to see the recently discussed Bradley v Broner fight?
Vito W. (ESB): This is a bout I’ve wanted to see for some years now! I’m not sure what led Broner to call Bradley out recently, but it’s a helluva thought to consider at this point. The parallels between these two create a ton of subplots in a very Hollywood-esque fashion. Both men stand 5’6″. Both men have a 69 inch reach. Broner has a record of 33-3-1 (24KO’s), Bradley has a record of 33-2-1 (13KO’s). The records are nearly identical, yet one man’s legacy makes him a bit of an overachiever while the other makes him appear a clear underachiever.
The biggest difference between the two is age. Broner is 28, while the aging veteran Bradley is 34. Bradley has declined the fight, but as we know, money talks. There’s a great chance an offer could eventually be made. We’ll have to see what Team Bradley does when the duckets drop in the bucket! As an early prediction, if the fight happens, despite his inactivity, I’m going with “the little engine that could”! The heart of Timothy Bradley is too big and too strong to lose to a fighter that does a lot wrong! Stay Tuned!
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be reached at 954.770.9807 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed right here on Boxing247, on Facebook in his daily “fight” threads, as well as on a weekly to-be-released Podcast. Stay tuned for details).