Though he is a big favourite to win on Friday night in Los Angeles, lightweight king Vasyl Lomachenko is paying his mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla plenty of respect. The third fight at 135 pounds for the ludicrously gifted Ukrainian southpaw and pound-for-pound star, Friday’s bout will be the first time “Hi Tech” has faced a British fighter. It’s also been some time since Lomachenko forced an opponent to quit.
There was a time, not too long ago, and down at super-featherweight, when “Loma” was making good fighters stay sat on their stool: four times in a row the now 31 year old made men quit – with Nicholas Walters (remember him?), Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and Guillermo Rigondeaux all capitulating to the anger of the paying fans. Since moving up five pounds, Lomachenko has been more seriously tested. The ruling WBA/WBO/Ring Magazine lightweight champ has said more than once that 135 pounds is not his ideal weight class, that he is facing naturally bigger men at the weight but that he does so to prove his greatness, so maybe Crolla can give the defending champ a real run for his money this week.
Crolla, who really does look to be in absolutely fantastic physical condition for this, the biggest fight of his entire career, is talking a great fight. Refusing to be either intimidated or overawed Crolla, a former champ at 135 himself, has been calling for this enormous opportunity for some time. Now he has what he wants (or thinks he wants), we can settle in for what could prove to be an interesting boxing match.
Crolla, 34-6-3(13) and stopped just once, insists no man is unbeatable, Lomachenko included. While Lomachenko, 12-1(9) has stated that Crolla is his mandatory “for a reason.” There has been a complete lack of trash-talk ahead of this fight and both gentlemen of the ring are looking forward to matching wits and ring skills inside The Staples Centre. And though the level of hype surrounding this fight in negligible, the ring action and display of pugilistic brilliance might well prove to be anything but.
A distance fight is a real possibility but anything could happen. It would be quite a shock, though, if Crolla joined the aforementioned quartet, Walters, Sosa, Marriaga and Rigondeaux and opted to take the easy way out. Look instead for Crolla to give his all on Friday night. Who knows, maybe he will even bring out the best in Lomachenko.