Ring Exclusive: Vasiliy Lomachenko wants to clear his name
We see him all of the time looking stern and focused. That’s because when Vasiliy Lomachenko lands in the United States, it’s for business reasons. He parachutes in, and then the gifted 32-year-old southpaw flies out.
Apparently, there is a different side of the former lightweight world champion that rarely gets seen. Lomachenko can be candid, animated, funny, engaging, and truly has a great personality, when he chooses to show it.
Lately, Lomachenko has been cast in a negative light, because he felt he was misunderstood in a recent interview with Ukrainian journalist Vladimir Kobelkov that the judges (Tim Cheatham, Julie Lederman and Steve Weisfeld) in his Oct. 17 lightweight title fight against Teofimo Lopez Jr. were “bribed.”
Talking to The Ring exclusively this week, “The Matrix” wanted to make sure he was understood properly.
“I didn’t say that the judges were bribed, I said that they were not being objective and they were being biased, they were not being objective in my personal opinion. After I saw the scorecards, I knew the judges were against me,” said Lomachenko, translated through his manager, former BWAA Manager of the Year Egis Klimas. “I cannot judge the judges and give them any scores, but the way I fought, and the way I felt during the fight, I didn’t feel I lost the fight.
“I had to watch the fight, then I was able to give my opinion. The night I reviewed my fight I counted all of the punches thrown. I watched the fight many times in slow-motion. I counted every time he touched me; he touched me 150 times.
“CompuBox stats said it was 183 punches. CompuBox stats showed he threw 659 punches. I watched and I counted 150 punches. CompuBox was off, too. He touched my body with his gloves, and he did not hit him with hard punches.”
Lomachenko was not exactly “Lomachenko” in the first half of the fight. Part of that had to do with Lopez offsetting Lomachenko, but part of that was Lomachenko himself, he admitted. It’s a fact that Lomachenko underwent surgery on his right shoulder on Monday, Oct. 19 in Los Angeles days after the Lopez fight.
Lomachenko (14-2, 10 knockouts) said he injured his right rotator cuff and said he felt a painful pinching sensation every time he threw a right, particularly when he threw the right hook, straight right and right uppercut. In the first six rounds, according to CompuBox stats, Lomachenko landed just 25 of 56 punches thrown. Through seven, it was 31 of 78.
In the last five rounds, he landed 110 of 212 punches thrown. Lomachenko’s 29 connects in the 11th round were more than what he landed in the first six rounds combined, so it shows he was certainly coming on.
There was something clearly different about Lomachenko. Now, that may have had to do with Lopez—and it may have had something to do with Lomachenko’s torn right rotator cuff. Lopez also had fought through injuries, too, battling a broken toe on his right foot and a shoulder injury during training camp.
“In the beginning of the fight, I was worried about my shoulder, because I knew I had a problem,” Lomachenko said. “I couldn’t use the straight jab, or the right hook or the right uppercut. I saw in the first half of the fight that I didn’t do anything to win that fight.
“I said to myself, ‘Whatever it’s going to be it’s going to be. If my shoulder is going to go out, it’s going to go out.’ That’s when I started boxing, and you see that watching the fight. I started in the second round and I felt a little pinch into my shoulder. In my head, I couldn’t continue. It’s why I took a little pause in the third and fourth rounds. After that, it’s when I started banging.
“I can tell you which rounds I won, and which rounds he won. I see at least a draw, but if you want to count punch-to-punch, I can say I won that fight by one round.”
When asked if he was willing to give Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) any credit, Lomachenko said “I don’t give him any credit, because he fought exactly the way I was prepared for the fight, and if you look at the first half of the fight, I was slower, but none of his punches really landed on me. It was like they slid off my body, they were not landing on me.
“Before the 12th round, my corner told me I was losing the fight, I didn’t think much about it. I did what I had to do, but, of course, he landed the punches in the 12th round.
“How can I say the judges were bribed when I never saw that or heard about it. I never thought the judges were bribed. No, the judges were not bribed.”
Team Lomachenko were presented with a list of five judges and three referees with the distinct request that they did not want anyone from California, where Lomachenko trains, or from New York, where Lopez is originally from, yet the Nevada State Athletic Commission chose New York-based Julie Lederman despite the demand.
Lomachenko says he’ll begin rehabbing and would like to fight sometime in April or May.
“I would like the rematch with Lopez, and if he’s saying if we fought 100 times and he would win 100 times, then prove it,” Lomachenko said. “If he thinks he’s a real champion by this fight, which he just got lucky, then fight me again. Lopez probably watched the fight the next day and they understand that they got lucky their hand was raised that night.
“My shoulder feels good. I’m doing some rehabbing exercises. It’s three weeks until rehab. We’re looking at April or May in 2021. I’m not a couch potato (laughs). I always keep myself in shape, while I’m waiting for the real Santa Claus to come for the kids from Siberia (laughs).”
Lomachenko has one very strong endorsement that he can beat anyone at 130 or 135 pounds—except one. And it’s someone many might not suspect.
“We didn’t fight no f____g bum, Lomachenko is a world champion and he fought over 400 fights and we broke the code,” said Teofimo Lopez Sr., Teofimo’s father and trainer. “I have the utmost respect for Lomachenko. We took his leverage jumping to the left and he became a regular fighter when we stopped that.
“Lomachenko will destroy anyone at 135 and I’m going to get rich betting all of my money on Lomachenko. Because my son beat Lomachenko, it doesn’t mean suddenly Lomachenko is a nobody.
“Look at (Masayoshi) Nakatani and how good he is. People think Lomachenko is easy, but he’s going to eat all of those young guns at 135 alive. Lomachenko is strong and he was able to take big shots from my son.
“I give Lomachenko props for the shots he took. If he committed earlier in the fight, he would have gotten knocked out. But just because he lost doesn’t mean he’s suddenly no good. He’s a great fighter, who lost to a great fighter.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.