Capital performance: Lomachenko, Gvozdyk, Usyk put on a show

Solid wins for all three members of the Ukrainian "Dream Team," but it was Oleksandr Gvozdyk leading the highlight reel Saturday.

Vasyl Lomachenko (left) continued his swift rise of the pound for pound rankings with another impressive win over Jason Sosa Saturday. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing
Vasyl Lomachenko (left) continued his swift rise of the pound for pound rankings with another impressive win over Jason Sosa Saturday. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

SAN DIEGO, April 8, 2017 – Boxing writers are fans, too. We enjoy watching someone as proficient as junior lightweight Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, until we have to write our recap columns about his performances. None of us like repeating ourselves, but we’ve run out of superlatives to describe how supremely talented Lomachenko is.

Vasyl Lomachenko (right) so disarms his opponents, they look like they’re moving in slow motion. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs). dominated a game Jason Sosa, finally forcing Sosa’s corner to stop the fight at 2:55 of the ninth round. Sosa (20-2-4, 15 KOs), who is not unskilled, simply couldn’t keep up with the speed, footwork, or boxing intelligence of Lomachenko.

The sold-out crowd of 2,828 in the Washington DC area’s new Theater at MGM National Harbor were treated to a live-action version of “The Matrix.” Lomachenko has a way of making his opponents look like they are moving in slow motion as he swirls around them. At one point, Lomachenko gestured to Sosa as if he was a matador displaying the cape to the bull. On both sides.

Vasyl Lomanchenko (right) connected on 68 percent of his power punches against Jason Sosa. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

Lomachenko landed 116 total punches of 256 thrown (45 percent) to Sosa’s 26 of 105 (26 percent). Seventy-two of those were power punches for Lomachenko, an astonishing 68 percent.

I came into the ring to do my job, I wanted to show everyone the High Tech and I think I pleased everyone tonight,” said Lomachenko. Asked why fans have embraced him so quickly, Lomachenko shrugged, “It’s hard for me to say, maybe they like what I do in the ring but maybe I’m just a good looking guy.”

Lomachenko said his style isn’t modeled after any great fighter of the past. “No, I model my style after my father, this is Lomachenko Senior style,” referencing his father and trainer, Anatoly Lomachenko.

Stop us if you’ve seen the same photo before. Vasyl Lomachenko was in control every minute of his bout against Jason Sosa. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

No one’s exactly lining up to fight Lomachenko among the titleholders at super featherweight. Nevertheless, Lomachenko said his team will get to work. “I’ll get some rest, then we will start negotiating with everyone at 130, if not we move to 135 and do damage there.” The competition at 135 pounds offers several intriguing matchups, including jorge Linares and Mikey Garcia. How about Garcia? “I want to see that fight too and this is the fight that wil make history. I want to make that fight right away,” said Lomachenko.

Fans would also love to see Lomachenko avenge his single loss to the veteran Mexican warrior Orlando Salido. How about it, High Tech? “Back in the day it was like a third grader fighting a 12th grader,” said Lomachenko of his first bout with Salido. “Now I have graduated from university and I want to invite him.”

Whoever Lomachenko faces, fans look forward to seeing a boxing virtuoso at work.

Aleksandr Usyk (right) took his time settling in, then turned up the heat with body punching against Michael Hunter. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

Lomachenko’s countrymen Alexsandr Usyk and Oleksandr Gvozdyk both scored wins on the televised undercard. Usyk got a serious effort from American Michael Hunter, who won several rounds and never looked out of contention. Usyk has a habit of starting slowly in his bouts, then figuring out whatever he needs to know to start punishing his opponents.

In the fourth round, Usyk stepped up the body attack and it served him well, slowing Hunter down to take Usyk to a unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 117-110. Hunter took his first loss and is 12-1, 8 KOs; Usyk is now 12-0 with 10 KOs.

Aleksandr Usyk says he’d like to unify the cruiserweight division before moving up to heavyweight. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

“I’m very happy with my performance, I did what I wanted to do,” said Usyk. “He took a lot of punches, I thought maybe they would stop the fight at the end.

“He was trying to hold and I knew he would do that so I worked in the gym on keeping him off me and keeping my distance to extend my arms,” added Usyk. Usyk said he’s ready for the other titleholders at cruiserweight, “anytime, anyplace.”

“No excuses, I lost the fight, no issue with the scorecards,” said Hunter. “I need to stay more active, I give myself a six.” Hunter can take pride in a solid effort and fans will welcome seeing him again carrying the cruiserweight flag in the U.S.

Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk had an impressive third round stoppage of Yunieski Gonzalez in their light heavyweight fight Saturday. Photo: Ed Mulholland, HBO Boxing

It was light heavyweight Gvozdyk (13-0, 11 KOs) who put on the fight of the night, scoring a third round knockout of Cuban-born Yunieski Gonazlez (18-3, 14 KOs). Gonzalez is a tough opponent with good performances in both his losses and was expected to be a tough test for Gvozdyk, but “The Nail” put the hammer down and made it a quick night, knocking Gonzalez down three times on the way to the final stoppage by referee Harvey Dock at 2:55 of the third. Gvozdyk landed 50 of 66 power punches thrown in the third round alone, a 75 percent connect rate.

“My plan was to wait a little bit and start to be more active in the late rounds,” said Gvozdyk. “But I saw this change, I catch him, and I didn’t let him go. So this just happened.” Gvozdyk credited the work he did preparing for the fight including his study of Gonzalez’s previous fights.

Is he ready for the winner of the Kovalev vs. Ward rematch? “I feel like I’m ready. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to fight for a title.” Gvozdyk wished Kovalev luck in the fight, “I hope he finishes what he didn’t finish in the last fight.”

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer 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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