SAN DIEGO, June 11, 2016 – Both the Puerto Rican fans and Ukrainian fans poured out of The Theater at Madison Square Garden Saturday with something to celebrate after their native sons scored impressive knockout victories.
In the main event, Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine (6-1, 4 KOs), won the WBO junior lightweight title in just his seventh professional fight, a record for becoming a two division champion. Lomachenko made it look good with a picture perfect knockout of Puerto Rico’s Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KOs) at 1:09 of Round 5.
Martinez, coming off a disputed draw against Orlando “Siri” Salido of Mexico last September, could not get his bearings against the faster, more skilled Lomachenko. The southpaw’s amateur pedigree shows with his nimble footwork and ring generalship. His command of range is so good it seems like magic. This is the Lomachenko who is the brilliant technician.
What should scare everyone in the lightweight division is the aggressive, powerful Lomachenko who also came out to play Saturday. Once Lomachenko assured himself Martinez was no threat to him, he moved in, first landing a left hook off a right jab feint, then blasting Martinez with a left upper cut and gorgeous right hook. Martinez went down hard, and the count was stopped at five.
Lomachenko landed 87 of 202 punches (43 percent), with 55 of 95 power punches for an outstanding 58 percent. Martinez landed just 34 of 178 punches, with 28 power punches. Martinez brought a dull knife to a gunfight.
Not only are Lomachenko’s skills improving, he is developing the predatory finishing drive of truly great fighters. This is a deadly combination.
After the fight, Lomachenko said he needed more fights to get better as a fighter. “The reason I like boxing is that all the best fighters, Olympic boxing, is all the best fighters come together and find out who the best fighters. I want to line up all the best boxers at 130 and see who the best fighter is,” said Lomachenko.
Does that include the one boxer to beat him, Orlando “Siri” Salido? Salido, who fought to a draw last weekend with Fernando Vargas? With Salido sitting ringside listening, Lomachenko said, “Hey Saldio, don’t lie … I’m ready to fight you anytime! Before the last fight, I never told him I’m not going to fight if he didn’t win the fight (last weekend), so let’s do it.
Lomachenko said it’s not about avenging his one loss. “I really already forgot about this loss, it was a great experience for me and it made me a better fighter. I want to revenge Salido for my fans, and to give them the rematch and win over Salido.”
Salido said ringside: “It’s not that personal for me. It’s just another fight. He moved around a lot. So what?”
Salido would do well not to take Lomachenko lightly. In just the few fights since Salido beat him, Lomachenko has become even more athletic, skilled and powerful as a pro. Now he’s becoming a finisher. It’s a fight fans would love. Bring it out to the Stub Hub Center, guys. I promise you’ll get a warm welcome in Southern California.
Puerto Rican fans had something to celebrate thanks to Felix Verdejo (21-0-0, 15 KOs), who pleased his fans and put himself back in the lightweight division mix again with a fifth round TKO win over Juan Jose Martinez of Mexico (25-3, 17 KOs). Taking a few rounds to get into a groove, Verdejo finally put it all together and hurt Martinez with a textbook right hook, and swarmed Marintez with more headshots and a body shot or two before referee Michael Ortega stopped the bout at 2:40 of the round.
Verdejo landed 34 percent of his total punches (90 of 261) against 28 percent for Martinez (36 of 128); 63 of 123 power punches (51 percent) against just 24 of 79 for Martinez (30 percent).
Verdejo said after the fight he knew the stakes were high for him. “I came here, my career depending on this fight and I knew that. We trained with lots of dedication in the gym, I came here tonight to give my all in the ring,” said Verdejo. Why had Verdejo had poor performances in his previous couple of fights? “I lost focus there was distraction that every young man has. But now I’m focusing on my career,” admitted Verdejo.
China’s Zou Shiming (8-1, 2 KOs) won a decision in his American debut against Jozsef Ajtai of Hungary (15-3, 10 KOs) in an uninspiring 10-round flyweight bout. Shiming is making slow progress in adapting to the professional style after a long amateur career. Trainer Freddie Roach still has work to do but he and Shiming will be happy to take a win back to Calfornia and China respetively.
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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