WBO featherweight champion, Vasyl Lomachenko (4-1, 2ko), claims that his mission in boxing is to be not only technically the best he can, yet to forever focus on showcasing those skills as a form of art, each and every time he steps between the ropes.
The Ukrainian amateur standout was beaten just the once in 397 contests as an amateur, and boxes on the under-card of the Tim Bradley/Brandon Rios welterweight clash on HBO PPV Saturday night, squaring off against little known Mexican, Romulo Koaschia (25-4, 15ko).
“I want to be known to fans and appreciated as a ‘boxer-painter’ in regards to speed, footwork, punching power — an art form inside the ring,” he said via translator at this week’s media event.
“I have looked at videos of many great champions like Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Frazier, who each had special qualities. I never say one particular fighter is the best ever because each has a special unique style of fighting,” he said.
Sadly for the Ukrainian, who counts double Olympic gold among his many credentials, finding a decent calibre of opposition to showcase that artistry against, is proving to be troublesome for his handlers at Top Rank, with Bob Arum admitting that Koaschia was ‘the best guy we could get.’
Equally disappointing is the realisation that the clash that would have been mouthwatering for purists, against former 122 lb champion and fellow 2x Olympic gold medalist, Guillermo Rigondeaux, recently stripped of his own world titles for inactivity as he too struggles to find credible opposition, appears to move further away, especially given previous disputes about weight and money blocking talks, not to mention the evident ineptitude of the Cuban’s handlers.
A fight with Welsh IBF titlist, Lee Selby – who incidentally beat Koaschia last year in the UK – would certainly appeal, although along with both WBC champ, Gary Russell – whom he already beat – and WBA (sup) champ, Leo Santa Cruz, he is with Al Haymon, with whom Top Rank have a frosty relationship, making potential fights unlikely.
A sensible fight from a Top Rank perspective would be against Jamaican ‘Axe-Man,’ Nicholas Walters, although with the former world champion now at 130 and ostensibly unable to make featherweight anymore, it puts an extra hurdle in the way of finding the big fights Lomachenko wants.
However, Arum thinks that a fight with Rigondeaux is realiistic, and claims he will chase it next year, although at exactly what weight is unclear.
“I’ll go after Rigondeaux and I’ll get HBO on board. I love that fight,” Arum said. “It’s a historically great and significant fight.”
While he waits for the fights he craves, Lomachenko’s manager, Egis Klimas, says the star isn’t getting frustrated or impatient, merely more used to the dynamics of the business and political side of the game.
“He’s starting to understand that pro boxing is not like amateur boxing. It’s a business as well and it won’t be the way he wants it all the time,” Klimas said.
“He’s adjusting to professional boxing’s business style and he understands if he wants to have 40 pro fights there are not 35 or more big names for him to fight – even though he would only like to fight big names and other champions.
“But no matter big name or not a big, he is preparing like he always prepares. He is preparing like he is fighting the best champions,” he added.
It will be very interesting to see what the next 12 months hold for Vasyl Lomachenko.