Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Vasyl Lomachenko appears to be untouchable: Weekend Review



Vasyl Lomachenko: Lomachenko said immediately after he embarrassed Nicholas Walters that his goal is to become the No. 1 fighter pound for pound in the world. That’s not boasting; that’s very likely his destiny. The seemingly perfect fighting machine turned what we all hoped would be an entertaining fight into a boxing seminar, so dominating a very good fighter in Walters that the Jamaican quit after seven rounds out of frustration. I was struck by Walters’ corner between rounds. He looked desperately at his both trainer and father near the end, as if to ask, “What do I do?” There are no answers to that question short of the roughhouse, borderline-illegal tactics wily Orlando Salido used to outpoint Lomachenko in his second professional fight. And even that won’t work as he gains more experience, which is bad news for any prospective opponents. It leaves you shaking your head. Fighters as accomplished as Walters, who entered the fight undefeated and feared, just aren’t supposed to lose that badly. Lomachenko (7-1, 5 knockouts) boxes circles around you, landing quick, accurate shots as you punch the air and ultimately lose your way, as a gifted fighter like Guillermo Rigondeaux might. Unlike Rigondeaux, he also hurts you, breaks you down, takes your heart. I’m sure Walters was feeling the effects of Lomachenko’s punching power in the seventh round, which undoubtedly contributed to his decision to quit. The loser wanted the fight to end on his terms, not on Lomachenko’s, which probably would’ve stung a lot more than criticism he has endured for giving up. We should probably get used to this: There are going to be many more good fighters who Lomachenko chews up and spits out.



Nicholas Walters: Walters (26-1-1, 21 KOs) lost both a fight and respect. One shouldn’t be overly critical of his performance as he won’t be the last good fighter to be overwhelmed by the boxing wizard from Ukraine. The Jamaican simply had no idea what to do. And one could argue that there was some logic to the decision to quit after seven ridiculously one-sided rounds. It couldn’t have been more clear that he had little to no chance of winning the fight, as Lomachenko dominated from beginning to end and showed no signs of vulnerability. Walters evidently asked himself after the seventh round, “What’s the point?” The point is that you don’t quit in boxing unless there is a very good reason to do so if you care about how you’re perceived. Frustration, futility and bewilderment are not on the list. That is especially the case for a power puncher like Walters, who can end almost any fight with the right punch. Walters said afterward that he was feeling the effects of Lomachenko’s punches in the final round, which certainly was the case. And he pointed to his recent inactivity – he hadn’t fought in almost a year – as one reason he struggled, which also might be a valid point. Still, you don’t quit unless you’re physically unable to continue. You keep trying, you look for ways to turn the tide even if things seem hopeless. If you don’t, you earn the wrath of the fans. Walters said to booing fans immediately after the fight, “I love you.” They didn’t love him back.



I fear that Lomachenko might turn out to be too good for his own good, at least in one sense. Everyone with access to boxing gloves wanted a shot at all-but-unbeatable Floyd Mayweather Jr. because of the money they stood to make. The challenge in the ring wasn’t really relevant. Fighters of similar ability, such as Rigondeaux and Gennady Golovkin, are avoided because the risk of fighting them far outweighs the gain. They don’t generate the kind of money Mayweather did. I hope that Lomachenko doesn’t fall into the latter category. It would be a shame if his best prospective opponents steer clear of him and deny the fans compelling fights. … Lomachenko said he would like to fight Francisco Vargas (23-0-2, 17 KOs) next. One mildly interesting thing about that matchup is that Vargas drew with Salido, the man who beat Lomachenko. And Vargas will never quit, as he demonstrated in his war with Takashi Miura in 2015. The problem is that Vargas doesn’t have the ability to give Lomachenko a serious challenge. I think a rematch with Salido or a move up to 135 pounds is far more intriguing. … Terry Flanagan stopped Orlando Cruz in the fourth defense of his WBO lightweight title on Saturday in Cardiff, Wales, which was no surprise. Cruz is a pretty good boxer but not in Flanagan’s class. The Englishman’s biggest challenges lie ahead. He’d like to face the winner of the rematch between RING 135-pound champ Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla, which is intriguing, but talented mandatory challenger Felix Verdejo could be next. Flanagan (32-0, 13 KOs) is a serious threat to all of the above. Cruz was trying for a second time to become the first openly gay boxer to win a world title. The fact he lost doesn’t diminish the impact he has made. His decision to come out and the manner in which he has been accepted by the boxing community – including Flanagan, who expressed his admiration – has opened the door for more gay fighters.