Vasyl Lomachenko did it again last night: he destroyed a very capable if not exceptional fighter with nothing short of dazzling efficiency. The Ukrainian southpaw defended his WBO super featherweight belt against Colombia’s Manuel Marriaga, a whopping 100/1 underdog, and the pound-for-pound star did as expected; forcing his challenger to remain on his stool at the conclusion of the 7th round.
But although fans knew Lomachenko would win last night, making his defence a predictable affair, it was still enjoyable watching the master boxer go to work. Lomachenko, who can seemingly do it all, makes good fighters look very ordinary – he said last night that, the head-butts Marriaga hit him with aside, the fight “looked like a sparring session, like work on the bag” – and it is now time for him to face a serious test.
But aside from much bigger guys, is there any fighter capable of giving Lomachenko this test? The Orlando Salido rematch seems destined never to take place (a shame, as Lomachenko really wants the opportunity to avenge his sole pro blemish, the razor-thin decision loss coming in just his second pro outing) so Lomachenko may have to move up in weight to get a big fight; unless, that is, the other 130 pound champions suddenly feel like facing him.
But how far can Lomachenko, already a two-weight title winner, go up? Lightweight maybe, but surely no higher, lest the supremely skilled operator would run the risk of being outmuscled, beaten by sheer weight and physical strength. On an even playing field, though, Lomachenko appears to be unbeatable – even if, at 9-1(7) he has actually been beaten.
Next up according to Bob Arum – who has called his fighter a “throwback to Muhammad Ali” – will be a December fight for Lomachenko, either on the 9th or the 23rd. And it might be a fight with another supremely skilled and avoided fighter in Guillermo Rigondeaux. The super-bantamweight king wants the fight and if a weight and a purse can be worked out we could see the two best-skilled boxers on the planet matching their wits and their hits against one another in a fight that could perhaps be one of the most interesting of the year.
Master Boxing Brain Vs. Master Boxing Brain, who wins? Who knows, but maybe if this fight happens both Lomachenko and Rigondeaux will find themselves tested and tested hard for the first time in who knows how long. Maybe we will get really lucky and see both greats pull out their very best stuff. Heaven knows, neither man has needed to do so in what seems like an age.