• The next pound-for-pound king

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    Conrad M. Cariño

    Conrad M. Cariño

    Vasyl Lomachenko’s stoppage win over Jamaican knockout artist Nicholas Walters over the weekend validates the Russian’s stature as the next pound-for-pound king.

    While undefeated Nicaraguan knockout Roman Gonzalez is still The Ring pound-for-pound king, Lomachenko’s stock might rise faster given that he has better opponents to fight in the next years to come.

    In fact, his easy win over Walters proves that he would be hard to beat at junior lightweight (130 pounds) and in the higher divisions should he decide to climb. Walters, known for stopping Nonito Donaire in six rounds in October 2014, was one of the feared fighters at featherweight (126 pounds) and his aura of invincibility was still there prior to facing the Russian over the weekend.

    But over the weekend, Lomachenko made Walters look like he should just fight at featherweight.

    What makes Lomachenko special is he has less than 10 professional fights, or 8-1 with five knockouts, and has won two division titles from the World Boxing Organization (featherweight and junior lightweight). But he fights like a seasoned pro and that can be attributed to his outstanding amateur career that saw him winning golds from the Olympics (2008 and 2012) and the World championships (2009 and 2011). With an amateur record of 396-1, he can be considered one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time.

    If Lomachenko started boxing in the amateur ranks from 14 years old, that means he accumulated 397 fights before he turned 25 years old in 2013. So in 11 years as an amateur fighter, he fought 36 times per year or three bouts per month. That’s too busy for an amateur fighter, and that meant he literally had to eat, sleep and breathe boxing!

    And in his fight against Walters, he made the Jamaican look like an amateur by landing almost twice the number of punches and making Walters quit before the eighth round. Walters’ record is now 26-1-1 with 21 KOs.

    Although he has good punching power, Lomachenko is no mindless slugger like his compatriot Sergey Kovalev, who lost his three light-heavyweight (175 pounds) titles to Andre Ward two weekends ago in what turned out to be a marquee fight.

    At 5’7” and 28 years old, it looks like Lomachenko can fight up to welterweight (147 pounds) like our very own Manny Pacquiao who is 5’6”.

    But at junior lightweight, the Russian still has a lot of options.

    Currently ranked at No. 7 in The Ring pound-for-pound ranking and No. 3 in its junior lightweight list, Lomachenko can take on World Boxing Council champion Francisco Vargas (23-0-2 with 17 KOs) of Mexico who is ranked No. 1. Then there’s No. 5 Takashi Miura (30-3-2 with 23 KOs) of Japan, World Boxing Association champion Jezreel Corrales (21-0 with eight KOs) of Panama who is at No. 5, Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1 with 20 KOs) of Japan at No. 6, and International Boxing Federation champion Jose Pedraza (22-0 with 12 KOs) of Puerto Rico at No. 7. The Ring has yet to name its featherweight king.

    One thing I find admirable in Russian or even Eastern European fighters today is they blend skills with punching power almost perfectly. A purely counterpunching or slugging style seems absent among these fighters.

    Kovalev is actually a better example of a boxer who blends skills with incredible power. Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan also has good ring skills and fearful punching power.

    And who would ever forget how the Klitschko brothers fought clinically while carrying dynamite in both hands.

    Then there’s Lomachenko.

    How far will Lomachenko can advance at the elite level will be keenly watched by fight fans, and there is little doubt at this point he can emerge at the top boxer in the world sooner or later.

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