SAN DIEGO, November 26, 2016 – One week ago, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev made their case for the top spot on boxing’s “pound for pound” best list.
Saturday night, Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine showed up the both of them in his own bid for consideration. In retaining his WBA world junior lightweight title, Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) thoroughly dominated Nicholas Walters of Jamaica (26-1-1, 21 KOs). So thoroughly, Walters quit on in the corner after the seventh round in a “no mas” moment rather than let fans continue to see the beatdown.
Lomachenko didn’t pound Walters. He didn’t have to. Lomachenko’s skills are all so on point, he made Walters, an undefeated boxer who himself beat 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire in his own dominant performance, look merely average.
Footwork? Lomachenko could win “Dancing With The Stars.” Speed? Right there with Manny Pacquiao. Defense? He could teach Floyd Mayweather a thing or two. Armed with these tools, he picked Walters apart to the head and the body while never putting himself in danger. Lomachenko gave Walters few changes to unleash his power punches. He moves so swiftly around his opponents, they can’t ever find the target.
After an especially dominating seventh round in which it looked like Lomachenko had decided he was bored and started moving in on Walters to end the fight, Walters told referee Tony Weeks in the corner he didn’t want to continue. Walters, who trains in Panama and speaks Spanish, was heard saying “no mas,” reminding viewers of Panamanian Robert Duran quitting at the hands of Sugar Ray Leonard.
While it’s true Walters was totally at Lomachenko’s mercy and perhaps in danger of being knocked out, it is the ethos of most fighters to carry on, to look for that opportunity no matter how improbable before the final bell to turn the tide. It’s hard to argue with the logic when thinking long term about a fighter’s well-being and his future. But it didn’t make fans at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas too happy as they booed Walters.
.After the bout, Walters told HBO’s Max Kellerman blamed his poor performance on ring rust, as it had been a year since his draw with Jason Sosa, while Lomachenko was staying busy. “If you watch the fight, you seeing him was scoring more than I do. I’m trying my good shots but I’m not connecting, he’s connecting more clearly than I am touching him. In the last round, he’s catching me more and more.
“It wasn’t about quitting, right,” explained Walters. “If you look at the last round, he caught me with some good shots, I was holding on just to the survive the round. It would be stupid to go on after the last round. It would be stupid to go on after the last round.
“You have to understand, you give me one fight per year. He’s more active than me. So that’s it,” shrugged Walters to a chorus of boos.
Lomachenko was matter of fact about the win, telling HBO “Walters is a good fighter, he’s really strong, but he just stood there in one place which made it easy for me to win.”
Lomachenko credited his performance on his work ethic and versatility. “It’s not about being just strong or just fast. A lot of things take place. You have to train to be highly functional in the ring, so it’s combination of things that make me good in the ring.”
When asked about future opponents, Lomachenko named current WBC junior lightweight champion Francisco Vargas of Mexico. “My goal is to be number one pound for pound,” said Lomachenko.
With only eight professional fights on his resume, calling Lomachenko’s rise “meteoric” is an understatement. It’s easy to imagine Lomachenko blowing through the division with ease, and looking for more targets at the 135 and 140 pound weight limit. The latter is where American pound for pound contender Terence Crawford competes for the same promoter, Top Rank. The only big star in the Top Rank stable is Manny Pacquiao, who said after his recent win that he’d be happy to drop back to the 140 pound division for a bout.
Taylor Wins Debut: Earlier in the day from London, Katie Taylor of Ireland won her professional women’s boxing debut with an impressive third round TKO of Katina Kopinska of Poland (7-14-3, 2 KOs). The 2012 London Games gold medalist had little trouble, starting with right jabs, then working to the body before pinning a worn out Kopinska against the ropes and pounding away before the referee stopped the bout, thrilling the many Irish fans in the audience.
Flanagan Retains Title: Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan of Great Britain successfully retained his WBO belt with an assured performance over Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico, scoring an eighth round stoppage in Cardiff, Wales. Cruz didn’t show much to challenge Flanagan.
Flanagan is now undefeated in 32 bouts and on a sure course to the lightweight showdown fans want to see against Jorge Linares of Venezuela. But the pair need to take care of unfinished business first. Linares and fellow Brit Anthony Crolla have a proposed rematch in the works after Linares took Crolla’s WBA title in September. Flanagan will likely face another Puerto Rican in a mandatory defense, Felix Verdejo.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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