LAS VEGAS — Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, a winner of his second Olympic gold medal at the 2012 Games in London, scored knockdowns with body shots in the first and fourth round of Saturday night’s fourth-round stoppage against hard-hitting Mexican rival Jose Luis Ramirez in a scheduled 10-rounder in his professional debut at Thomas & Mack Center.
In victory, Lomachenko (1-0, 1 knockout) hopes to become the first boxer to win a title in his second professional bout by facing Mexican veteran Orlando Salido, whose seventh-round knockout of Puerto Rican featherweight contender Orlando Cruz earned the WBO’s vacant belt and prevented Cruz from becoming the first openly gay boxer to win a major world title.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he would like to match Salido and Cruz on Jan. 25 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
“I worked and tried to keep my distance throughout the fight,” said Lomachenko, 25, whose bout with Ramirez (25-4, 15 KOs) took place on the undercard of an HBO Pay Per view main event between WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley and four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez. “I’m happy with my performance. It was a good effort, but I know that I can do better.”
Top Rank President Todd duBoef liked what he saw from Lomachenko.
“Usually you don’t see a young amateur go to the body and decimate somebody that way. Usually, the last thing they learn to do is to go to the body. You saw a guy that controlled the pace and who took him out with body shots,” said duBoef.
“I hate pro debuts as it is, because it’s the first time that they take off their headgear, and it’s the first time that they put eight-ounce gloves on. So I think that no matter what, his next fight, he’s going to perform a lot better, because that nervous energy will be gone. We’re following their lead. If they want to fight for a title (in Lomachenko’s next bout), then I guess that we’ll do it.”
Lomanchenko drove a left to the solar plexus that caused a delayed reaction from Ramirez, who dropped to both knees before rising slowly at referee Russell Mora’s count of seven.
When Ramirez rose at went to the neutral corner, Lomachenko was on him, pounding to the body. A speedy fighter with excellent foot movement, Lomachenko gave ground even as he covered up to block Ramirez’s shots to the body. Over the final 20 seconds of the first round, Lomachenko’s side-to-side movement allowed him to land to opposite sides of Ramirez’s head.
In the second, Lomachenko continued to box and move brilliantly, at one point, stopping to deliver a dazzling four-punch combination, all to the head. Ramirez remained game, however, getting off the ropes after having absorbed punishment to deliver evenly over the final portion of the round.
In the third, Ramirez enjoyed the early momentum, driving shots to the body beneath Lomanchenko’s highly-held guard. Lomancenko appeared to be losing steam on his punches, and Ramirez, charging forward, continued to fire with both hands to Lomanchenko’s body.
The fourth was more of the same from Ramirez, who contined to jab his way in, drive punches to the body, and rough-up Lomanchenko along the ropes. Midway through, however, Lomanchenko stunned Ramirez with a right to the head, then floored him for good with a left to the body, yet again. In pain and on all fours, Ramirez stayed down for good, this time, as Mora waved and end to the fight.
“His punches to the body hurt more than the punches to my head. He’s so fast. I’m really hurting. His body punches were just killing me,” said Ramirez. “When I signed for this fight, I knew what I was getting into. He’s a world class athlete. He’s a great fighter and he’ll be a great champion.”
There has also been talk of eventually matching Lomachenko and RING, WBA and WBO champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, who will face former bantamweight beltholder Joseph Agbeko at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Dec. 7.
A former two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba, Rigondeaux won the WBA’s bantamweight belt in his seventh bout by split-decision over Ricardo Cordoba in November of 2010.
“I have a great deal of respect for Rigondeaux,” said Lomachenko. “But I need a few more fights before I’m ready for him.”
In a light heavyweight bout, “Irish” Seanie Monaghan (19-0, 12 KOs), of Long Beach, N.Y., scored his second straight stoppage behind a barrage of blows against Anthony Caputo Smith (14-2, 10 KOs) at 2:39 of the third round.
“It was a pretty easy fight,” said Monaghan. “I’m planning to return to the ring at [New York’s] Madison Square Garden in a pretty significant fight.”
The second began similarly, with Smith boring in with overhand rights and lefts and an occasional elbow. By mid-round, however, Monaghan, bleeding slightly from the nose, was coming straight up the middle with shots that bobbled Smith’s head and backed Smith up. Smith was game, however, swinging wildly and landing occasionally until Monahan’s jab got going once again.
In the evening’s first bout of the eight-fight card, welterweights Brad Soloman (21-0, 8 KOs) overcame Kenny Abril (14-7-1, 7 KOs) by unanimous decision, after which light heavyweight Trevor McCrumby (13-0, 10 KOs) rose from a second-round knockdown to unanimously decision Eric Watkins (10-5-1, 4 KOs), who was floored in the first and fourth rounds.
McCumby defeated Watkins for the second time, having won by unanimous decision in December.
Also, 147-pounders Mikael Zewski (21-0, 16 KOs) scored a fifth-round stoppage of Alberto Herrera (9-10-1, 5 KOs) in the evening’s third bout, and featherweight Jun Doliguez (17-0-1, 13 KOs) dropped a bloody Geovanny Caro (23-14-4, 19 KOs) twice in the sixth and final round of his knockout.
Photos by Jeff Bottari-Gettyimages; Ethan Miller-Gettyimages
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]