Lomachenko vs. Marriaga: The Matrix Returns on ESPN

Vasyl Lomachenko defends his WBO junior lightweight belt against Miguel Marriaga in what on paper is a showcase fight on ESPN. Top Rank is banking on this main event being stylistically an entertaining matchup for television.

Saturday nights co-feature is Raymundo Beltran versus Bryan Vasquez.

Famed promoter Bob Arum loves to toss superlatives around of all sorts when describing his fighter Vasyl Lomachenko. You name the legendary fighter and Bob either already used the name or plans on using it in the future to compare Vasyl’s skill. Arum’s company, Top Rank seems poised by partnering with ESPN in effort to put a dent in the sport exposure-wise. Just how serious Bob truly is will show itself in the selection of Lomachenko’s next opponent.

Top Rank claims they offered upwards north of 700,000 dollars to Orlando Salido. If that’s true they should have no problem coming up the loot for Mikey Garcia. If that happens Garcia will obviously have to fight on ESPN and not play the only on Showtime card. But for now let’s put the focus back on Saturday night and breakdown Lomachenko vs. Marriaga.

Can Miguel be a poor man’s version of Orlando Salido by bringing pressure & getting dirty on the inside? Obviously the majority of advantages favor Lomachenko which is apparent after one quick look at the betting odds. The only clear path to victory for Marriaga is in the trenches. If Vasyl obliges to it or Miguel forces that type of fight you can throw the odds out the window.

The most likely scenario is Lomachenko will play copycat and follow parts of Oscar Valdez’s game plan, consisting of lateral movement with high volume combo-punching. I’m sure at times Loma will have to deal some rough play but judging by the improvements he made in the 2nd half versus Salido, it shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Marriaga is basically custom-made for Lomachenko to show his elite level boxing skills so it makes sense the Colombian was chosen once Salido turned down the offer. Marriaga’s grit and pressure will make for an entertaining engagement. If Loma sits down on his punches in the mid to late rounds we could get a stoppage.

Marriaga will definitely come forward but he’s not as rugged or crafty as Orlando ‘Siri’ Salido. Plus, the war Miguel raged with Oscar Valdez in April could’ve taken a piece out of him. Maybe Marriaga wins an early round or two but it’s more likely he’ll dominate say 20-30 seconds of a round only to see ‘The Matrix’ switch gears and close stronger.

My Official Prediction is Vasyl Lomachenko by late technical-stoppage.

Side Note: This Friday Mauricio Herrera meets Jesus Soto Karass on ESPN and Claressa Shields challenges for her first championship belt against Nikki Alder.

Written by Chris Carlson Host of the Rope A Dope Radio Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Subscribe on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Player.FM, Tunein, & Stitcher. Visit The Rope A Dope Podcast YouTube Channel & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio