Vasiliy ‘Loma’ Lomachenko continued his climb back to the summit of the lightweight decision with a thoroughly impressive performance to beat Richard ‘RC’ Commey by a wide margin on the scorecards in Madison Square Garden.
Commey survived a seventh round knockdown and continued to fight all the way to the end, but the movement and hand speed of Lomachenko was too much on the night.
IN THE RED CORNER – VASILIY LOMACHENKO
Back in the fall of 2020, Lomachenko was on the path to achieving his long held goal of becoming undisputed lightweight world champion in possession of all four belts only for a seismic upset to interfere and blow the division wide open.
After a decorated amateur career that included winning two Olympic gold medals, Lomachenko captured the WBO world featherweight title by beating Gary Russell Jr. via majority decision in only his third professional fight.
In 2016, Lomachenko moved up to junior lightweight and won the WBO world title by knocking out Roman Martinez in the fifth round. The junior lightweight strap was a title Lomachenko defended successfully four times, including a notable victory that saw Guillermo Rigondeaux retire on his stool after six rounds.
The fast paced career trajectory continued, with Lomachenko becoming a three weight world champion in his 13th professional fight by dethroning Jorge Linares to take the Ring Magazine and WBA world lightweight titles.
With Loma on a mission to unify the division, the WBO world title was added with a win over Jose Pedraza next time out before travelling to England and beating fellow Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell to claim the vacant WBC crown.
Next up, Lomachenko faced Teofimo Lopez aiming to add the IBF title to his collection of belts, only to be beaten via unanimous decision and knocked back down the lightweight ladder while his career mark fell to 15-2 (11KO).
Still ranked #1 on the Ring Magazine lightweight behind champion Lopez, and number nine on the Ring pound for pound list, Lomachenko bounced back with a stoppage win over Masayoshi Nakatani and would now need to beat former world champion Commey to stay on track for another opportunity to win world championship gold.
IN THE BLUE CORNER – RICHARD COMMEY
Ranked #4 on the Ring lightweight list, the heavy handed former IBF world champion Commey entered this contest with a 30-3 record that included an eye popping 27 knockouts.
After rolling to 24 straight victories, Commey lost back to back fights, first falling to Robert Easter Jr. in his first world title challenge and then dropping a second straight split decision result to Denis Shafikov three months later.
Commey rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over Hedi Slimani in his home nation of Ghana, before going on to win world title gold with a second round stoppage of Isa Chaniev to claim the IBF crown.
After knocking out Ray Beltran to successfully defend the title, Commey was stopped in the second round by Lopez to lose the strap in this same Madison Square Garden venue. In his next fight, Commey swept aside Jackson Marinez via sixth round knockout to set up this high stakes clash with Lomachenko.
Lomachenko started the fight with his orange and black gloves raised high in front of his face, pawing out his jab as both men looked cautiously for an opening in the first minute. Commey threw out jabs without connecting as both men moved and feinted their way around the ring.
Commey sidestepped a punch and landed two blows before Lomachenko moved sideways quickly out of harm’s way. Commey split the guard of Lomachenko with a right hand and landed two body blows to end a tight opening round.
A cautious start to the fight by both men continued in round two when Lomachenko closed the distance twice only to be held in a clinch by Commey to stifle any potential attack. Lomachenko landed a right hand before ducking under a hook and connecting to the body before later landing another strong left handed body blow and doubling it up with a hook.
Commey responded with two punches before Loma grabbed onto a clinch and the pair were separated by referee Steve Willis. The offense was starting to flow for Lomachenko and the Ukrainian landed two left hands before connecting with a thudding shot to the body.
Lomachenko continued to land the jab and was able to make his opponent miss while moving laterally to change the angle of attack when countering. Loma ended a good round with powerful left handed shots to the body and head that rocked Commey back onto the ropes. Showing his confidence, Lomachenko stood with his guard down and pointed Commey in the direction of his corner before the bell rang.
Round three began with Lomachenko pawing out his left arm to probe for an opening, while Commey adopted the contrasting tactic of trying to close the space and land heavier blows. Commey received a warning from referee Willis for holding onto Lomachenko, only to grab onto a clinch seconds later and receive a second verbal warning within the space of 30 seconds.
When his arms were free of the clinch, Lomachenko was displaying fluid footwork, skipping in close to land scoring blows before hopping out of reach and changing angle for the next attack. Commey managed to land two hooks in close before Lomachenko responded with a four punch salvo and later ducking under a punch to land a left hand flush on the Ghanaian’s jaw.
Commey was throwing punches early and often in round four but the slippery target of Lomachenko was proving tough to hit as the Ukrainian ducked and weaved his way around the ring. When Lomachenko went on the attack he landed three blows and a stiff uppercut to slow the advancing Commey.
Lomachenko was beginning to land with surgical precision, with a notable blow coming as he slipped a Commey punch and landed with a strong counter to the jaw.
The jab of Commey was coming up short of the target in round five, while Lomachenko successfully stepped in and landed a scoring blow before the pair ended up in a clinch. With Commey under the threat of losing a point after two warnings, Lomachenko was finding it easier to free himself from the clinch and landed two body blows in close before switching the range and peppering Commey with jabs.
It was a dominant performance from Lomachenko over the first five rounds with the Ukrainian doubling up his opponent by landing 63 of 164 total punches as opposed to 30 of 243 connecting from Commey.
Lomachenko landed the first significant punches of round six before pushing away his opponent to create room for another offensive flurry and then skipping out of reach. Commey backed Lomachenko into a corner and the Ukrainian shelled up to absorb most of the punches on his arms before pivoting out and reversing roles, trapping Commey against the turnbuckle as the pair exchanged blows.
Commey would not stop coming forward and throwing punches, but was unable to get to grips with the masterful movement of Lomachenko as the gap on the scorecards started to widen.
A determined Commey started round seven on the front foot and landed several punches before being rocked back against the ropes by a pair of right hands, then dropped with a precision left hook to the jaw.
Commey received an eight count from referee Willis while Lomachenko gestured towards the corner of Commey, asking trainer Andre Rozier if he wanted to stop the fight. When the fight resumed, Lomachenko closed in and was grabbed into a clinch by Commey who was in full survival mode.
Lomachenko circled left and right, avoiding the jab of Commey and landing telling blows before the African’s rear leg buckled and he staggered back onto the ropes, causing Lomachenko to once more implore Rozier to end the one sided contest. Commey was backed into the corner and suffered a number of head snapping blows before the bell rang to end what was a dominant round for Lomachenko.
“If I see you getting hurt like that again I’m gonna stop this,” said trainer Rozier before referee Willis visited the corner to check on Commey and allow the teak tough Ghanaian to continue. The ringside doctor climbed the apron to conduct one final check on Commey, shining a light into his eyes before giving the all clear for the fight to resume.
Commey was determined to go down fighting and poked out jabs and crosses while Lomachenko circled the ring, looking out behind a high guard for the potentially decisive blow. Lomachenko snuck an uppercut through the guard of Commey and peppered the guard of his opponent with a flurry of punches while Commey continued to advance behind his jab. The Ghanaian had justified Rozier’s faith in him by hanging tough during what was a remarkably positive round given the beating he had taken in the three minutes prior.
African warrior Commey looked to be regathering his senses and kept Lomachenko busy on the defensive end by continuing to fire out jabs and crosses. Lomachenko responded by firing snapping shots through the gap in Commey’s guard and continuing to shrink and widen the distance between the pair in order to keep his opponent guessing.
In the last minute of the round, Lomachenko was admonished by referee Willis for a punch on the break before ending the round with a flurry of legitimate shots.
Well aware he was falling behind on the scorecards, Commey stayed busy in search of a fight altering punch but Loma proved too evasive and peppered the Ghanaian with stinging jabs on the counter before landing a stiff right hand to the face.
The superior speed of Lomachenko saw him able to block and evade most punches while racking up points and widening his lead in the fight. The gulf in class was reflected in the statistics displayed by ESPN after round 10, with Lomachenko landing 188 of 431 total punches while Commey had connected on 58 of 505.
The percussive jab of Lomachenko dominated the opening half of round 11 before Commey’s head was rocked back by a three punch combination. Loma then landed a four punch outburst before circling to the right and later landing another barrage of five unanswered shots. The round ended with Commey backed onto the ropes and displaying his fighting spirit by swinging away with lefts and rights that thudded against the guard of Lomachenko before the bell rang.
In the final round, Lomachenko landed a jab before backing away and leaving Commey to lose balance by punching air. Commey never let up and continued to throw heavy blows, only for Loma to respond with accurate offensive flurries to quell the hopes of any late momentum for the African.
In the final minute of the round, Commey lowered his head and bundled into Lomachenko as the pair fell into the ropes before a separation from referee Willis. Lomachenko continued to move out of the range of Commey before landing one last offensive flurry to put an exclamation point on an impressive performance.
There was little sense of drama in the arena as the formality of the scorecards being read out approached and there were no surprises as Lomachenko was awarded victory by convincing scores of 119-108, 119-108 and 117-110 from the judges.
WHAT THEY SAID
When asked by ESPN about the incident in round seven when Lomachenko had suggested the fight be halted, the Ukrainian said “I saw the situation and how it was very hard for him and that’s why I said stop the fight. He is a true warrior and he has a great heart so we continued and we showed the people 12 great rounds.”
Trainer Rozier was also asked about the incident and said “Richard is a warrior and Vasiliy is a great champion. When he signalled for me to stop, for me to take his pride and his energy and his diligence away would have been a horrible thing to do.”
Commey was full of praise for his opponent after the one sided defeat and outlined his motivation, saying “he’s a little bit quicker and he throws combinations very well, that makes him special. I fight for my country, I fight for my people. I let them down but I’m gonna come back stronger.”
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER
Since beating Lomachenko for three of the four major titles, Lopez suffered an upset of his own at the hands of George Kambosos Jr., making the Australian fighter the divisional kingpin while American Devin Haney holds the WBC portion of the world championship.
Kambosos will be the primary target for Lomachenko as he looks to close in on his goal of becoming undisputed king. “If God gives me this chance, I will take it,” said Lomachenko of a potential match with Kambosos for the WBA, WBO and IBF belts. When asked if he would be willing to face the champion in his home nation of Australia, Loma responded “I will go anywhere I need to go to fight him.”
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER
“The aim and ambition is the same, I want to be a two time world champion,” Commey told ESPN when addressing his future post fight. If Lomachenko and Kambosos face off, Commey may attempt to challenge Haney for the WBC belt, but if that fight can’t be made there is no shortage of elite level options in a division that includes Ryan Garcia, Lopez and Gervonta Davis.
Author’s Scorecard (round by round)