San Diego, Calif., December 8, 2018 – There’s nothing like a visit to New York City during the holiday season, especially with festive world class boxing in store. Top Rank Boxing provides the action with several of their most entertaining stars planning on ending their year on a high note.
Number one pound for pound boxer Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine (11-1, 9 KOs) returns from his longest layoff as a pro. After winning the WBA and Ring Magazine lightweight titles from Jorge Linares, he took time off for shoulder surgery. Anyone else would take a layoff fight. Not Loma. He’ll test his new shoulder in a unification bout against Jose Pedraza of Puerto Rico. Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs) lifted the WBO title off Ray Beltran in a hard-fought victory in August.
It’s nearly impossible to overstate Lomachenko’s skills. They all start at his feet. Lomachenko’s footwork is unmatched in balance, precision and speed. The rest of his skills spring from his dancer’s feet, driving his power and ring awareness. Lomachenko can get in position against anyone, and move clear of nearly any attack. He used his feet and his one good arm to defeat an exceptional opponent in Linares, who has moved up a division since losing to Lomachenko.
Lomachenko says of Pedraza’s title, “That’s my belt.” He has earned the right to be confident. Although he’s a significant underdog, Pedraza doesn’t intend to be a pushover. “I have the size advantage and the boxing skills to give Lomachenko trouble, and I will use all of that in the ring on Saturday night,” says Pedraza. “It’s a great fight, no doubt about that, especially when you’re going up against the man many consider the best pound for pound.”
Lomachenko says Pedraza reminds him of Miguel Marriaga, and sees the same outcome ahead. Lomachenko toyed with Marriaga for seven rounds before driving him to quit, scoring a TKO victory. It earned him the “No Mas Chenko” nickname. Ouch. Enjoy the fight as long as it lasts, knowing you’re watching a once in a lifetime boxing talent.
Isaac Dogboe brings the fun to his title defense
The undercard is built for entertainment value. WBO super bantamweight sensation Isaac “Brave Son” Dogboe of Great Britain (20-0, 14 KOs) comes back from his first round TKO fireworks in August for another appearance. The engaging 24-year-old native of Ghana will fight mandatory challenger Emanuel Navarrette of Mexico (25-1, 22 KOs). It is Dogboe’s second defense of his title.
Not many professional boxers have more fun than Dogboe, who loves leading his fans in chants of “Neho!” which is a word he learned from his father and trainer, Isaac, summoning the spirit of his warrior ancestors. “I’m fighting one of Mexico’s finest warriors, Emanuel Navarrete, and he’s one of the best and I am the best in the division,” said Dogboe. “The world loves exciting fights. Navarrete is tough. He comes to fight but I am the best in this weight division.”
Dogboe says he won’t overlook Navarrete, but he isn’t ready to give up his title. Dogboe has the ability to strike suddenly, and Navarrete must follow one of boxing’s key principles: protect yourself at all times. Dogboe has stopped his last five opponents and he’d love to make it six.
Teofilo Lopez makes his case for 2018 Prospect of the Year
ESPN’s opening TV fight features the likely 2018 Prospect of the Year, sensational lightweight Teofimo Lopez Jr. of Las Vegas (10-0, 8 KOs). Lopez is another big personality on this Big Apple card. He’ll get a solid test from sturdy opponent Mason Menard of Louisiana (34-3, 24 KOs). Menard can take opponents into deep water. His only recent losses are to Ray Beltran and Devin Haney. Lopez can’t take him for granted
ESPN’s network coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The entire undercard will air via ESPN+ starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Among the highlights is the professional debut of exciting Italian heavyweight prospect and Olympian Guido Vianello, who fights Luke Lyons of Kentucky (5-1-1, 2 KOs). The 24-year-old former police officer is trained by Abel Sanchez, alongside another successful young heavyweight, Joe Joyce of Great Britain. Vianello says he’s a mix between Wladimir Klitschko and Muhammad Ali.
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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