News that Manny Pacquiao might square off with Vasyl Lomachenko of Russia has made the boxing world buzzing with excitement, because it involves an up-and-coming superstar and a future Hall of Famer.
But there’s one big problem – their official fighting weights are almost a world apart with Pacquiao at welterweight (147 pounds) and Lomachenko at junior lightweight (130 pounds). That’s a good 17 pounds.
The only way to bridge the weight gap is for the camps of both fighters to agree to a catch weight, with 140 pounds or junior welterweight being the most appropriate. But I doubt it if Pacquiao will oblige going down to 140 pounds since the last time he fought at junior welterweight was when he knocked out cold Ricky Hatton in May 2009.
As for Lomachenko, he might be willing to risk fighting at 140 pounds given his younger body can be tweaked to take in additional weight without affecting much of his speed, power and ring mobility.
So are we seeing another marquee match up in the making? Or freak show?
Pacquiao and Lomachenko have envious ring legacies, even if the Russian only has eight professional fights.
Pacquiao has collared world title belts from eight divisions, which will be hard to equal. He also burst into the international boxing scene without the benefit of an outstanding amateur record and gave fans exciting fights at the elite level.
Lomachenko, on the other hand, looks like the very antithesis of Pacquiao, because he has an outstanding amateur career that saw him won gold medals from the Olympics twice and the World championships also twice.
His collaring world titles at featherweight (126 pounds) and junior lightweight in less than 10 fights speaks volumes of his outstanding boxing skills that were honed from the amateur ranks. His amateur record is an astounding 396-1.
However, the weight disparity of both fighters and their respective ages can make this a potential freak show.
Also Pacquiao is turning 38 years old while Lomachenko is only 28. Both fighters are almost evenly matched when it comes to height and reach.
While Pacquiao is no longer the buzzsaw that decimated the likes of Hatton and Miguel Cotto, his speed and power are still remarkable for the fighter in his late 30s. His knockdowns of Chris Algieri, Timothy Bradley and recently Jessie Vargas prove he still has one-punch knockdown power. And that is bad news for Lomachenko.
But Lomachenko, being the younger fighter, has quicker reflexes and his fighting style is based more on skill, ring movement and speed. He also avoids mixing it up carelessly and could counter punch from a distance.
The unseen factor, however, that can negate Pacquiao’s supposed weight advantage is how Lomachenko can pack on more weight after the official weigh in.
Pacquiao, from what I have observed, does not pack on much weight after the official weigh in so his weight before the fight starts may be 150 or 151 pounds at the most.
Lomachenko, however, can risk packing on more weight from 135 or 140 pounds. So let’s say the Russian can add 10 pounds after the weigh in, he could face Pacquiao at either 140 or 145 pounds. So with Pacquiao having a weight advantage of five to 10 pounds, things could even up for Lomachenko given that the Russian is nine years younger.
The last time I saw a freak show of a fight was when former cruiserweight (200 pounds) champion Chris Cunningham faced heavyweight Tyson Fury in April 2013.
Most fight pundits saw Fury easily disposing Cunningham because the weight disparity at the scales was bout 40 pounds. Cunningham was 6’3” and 36 years old when the fight took place while Fury was 6’8” and 24. But Cunningham decked Fury in the second round before getting stopped in the seventh round after putting up a very courageous show. A freak show, indeed.
At least the proposed Pacquiao-Lomachenko fight won’t pit a giant against an average- or pint-sized person.
Pacquiao-Lomachenko won’t be a freak show.