LOS ANGELES, August 5, 2017 – Despite an unfortunate delay due to the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony running long, 4,102 boxing fans at the Microsoft Theater enjoyed summertime fun watching WBO junior lightweight champion and two time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl “High Tech” Lomachenko put on a show, stopping Miguel Marriaga of Colombia after seven entertaining rounds Saturday.
Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) had seemingly no challenge at all in his second title defense against a willing but outgunned Marriaga (25-3, 21 KOs). Marriaga had the will but not the skill. Lomachenko knocked Marriaga down in the third round, and again in the seventh round with a wide left hook to the top of the head. Marriaga rose and survived the count both times, but after the seventh round, Marriaga’s corner decided their man was done for the night. It was the right call; at the time of the stoppage, Lomachenko had won all but a single round on all three judges’ cards including two rounds of 10 – 8 for the knockdowns. To judge Patricia Jarman, what were you thinking giving round two to Marriaga? A few body shots do not a round make.
Fighting on ESPN for the first time for a broad American audience, Lomachenko put all his talents on display for their entertainment: the footwork, the balance, the accuracy, and the showmanship which has been emerging over his last few fights. From the opening bell, “High Tech” moved Marriaga around the ring at will, putting him under constant pressure. You could virtually see Marriaga not having time to think at all; meanwhile, Lomachenko was so far ahead of him, he had time to fool around and engage in some Elvis type hip swivels, gesturing at Marriaga to “bring it.” You have to feel sorry for the mouse when Lomachenko plays the cat.
Lomachenko increased his work rate as the fight went on, unloading the full arsenal of punches in the seventh round. He is so well conditioned, it seemed he might just be getting started.
Lomachenko did suffer a cut under over his left eye in the fourth round and showed bruising under his right. “I need trianing on my defense. I need to work more on my defense,” said Lomachenko. It’s a minor point considering his performance.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum drew some criticism for cutting the deal with ESPN, and the social media drumbeat rang out due to the broadcast delay Saturday. This aside, by showcasing fighters like Lomachenko who need to expand their fan base beyond the hard core boxing heads, Arum outsmarts everyone around him. It was a real shame the fight started so late, past midnight on the east coast. When the time comes for Lomachenko to unify titles against another champion like Mikey Garcia or Guillermo Rigondeaux, or avenge his lone loss in a rematch with Orlando Salido, Arum will hold all the cards. Don’t play poker with this man, people.
To Lomachenko, it matters not. “It doesn’t matter. Anybody. I want to unify the titles. To me, it doesn’t matter.” Lomachenko asked on Twitter after the fight, “Who wants next?”
Arum stated in an interview Friday he’s like to put Lomachenko up against Rigondeaux or Salido next, before the end of the year. Salido may demand too large a purse at this stage, leaving Rigondeaux. This is a fight to get out of the way. It’s a purist’s fight and likely to be more tactical than entertaining.
Forget Terence Crawford, folks. Crawford is too big for Lomachenko. If he unified titles with Julius Indongo later this month at lightweight, he plans to move up to welterweight and both are beyond Lomachenko’s sweet spot. There are plenty of opponents left between 130 and 135. Lomachenko says he’s willing to go to 135, but he’d really like to unify titles at 130; he’s mentioned WBC champion Miguel Berchelt, and it’s a makeable fight. Who wouldn’t love to see it?
Raymundo Beltran of Mexico (34-7-1, 21 KOs) kept his comeback streak alive, squeaking out a surprisingly difficult majority decision over former two-time interim WBA super featherweight world champion Bryan Vasquez (36-3, 19 KOs). Beltran retains the regional NABO and NABF lightweight titles. Scores were 94-94 X 2 and 95-95.
Vasquez came up a weight class to take the fight with Beltran, and he blew through the weight limit. It slowed him down, but it may have also toughened him up. Vasquez doesn’t have a lot of power, but he does use the upper cut well, and he can take a punch. Vasquez is an awkward target, and it gave Beltran trouble.
“Nobody gave me a chance. My plan was to beat Beltran, and then fight Lomachenko. I felt I won,” said Vasquez after the conclusion of the fight.
As Beltran kept trying to find something that worked, his failure to invest in body work in the early rounds showed. Vasquez was slowing down but not stopping. Beltran was cut in the ninth round by a head clash on the cheekbone, and suffered another cut on the forehead in the tenth. He later said the cuts made it tough to see at the very end of the fight. In the final sections, Vasquez pinned Beltran on the ropes and hurt him; Beltran may have been out on his feet but got lucky as the final bell sounded. He was fortunate it was only a ten round fight.
“My goal is to win, ” said Beltran. “It doesn’t matter decision or knockout. He (Vasquz) can take a punch. I only thought I lost the last round.”
At age 36, Beltran is making one last run at a super featherweight title show. He hasn’t always been focused during his career due to distractions outside the ring. But after a suspension in 2015 for drug use, Beltran wasn’t willing to walk away, and he’s gotten serious about boxing. The Mexican immigrant is trying to secure a green card in the United States, through provisions in the law that allow people with specific skills or talents to qualify. In Beltran’s case, an athletic achievement like a serious world title would make it happen. Beltran needs to uncover any deficiencies revealed by this bout, and correct them quickly.
Boxing is too difficult a sport for a person from comfortable circumstances. Most athletes are willing to put the work in to rise above their situation, whether it’s poverty, crime, lack of opportunities, or in Beltran’s case, the American dream. Anyone who would root against him is, well, un-American.
Additional undercard results:
With the ESPN broadcast delayed, fans saw Arnold Barboza Jr. of El Monte (17-0, 6 KOs) escape with a win over a determined Jonathan Chicas of San Francisco (15-2, 7 KOs). Barboza appeared to have the fight under control, dropping Chicas with a right hand in the second round. Chicas survived, and returned the favor with a knockdown of Barboza in the fifth. The pair continued to trade blows in the center of the ring. No one doubted the determination of either athlete. Chicas improved round over round to the end, but both men threw their fair share of bombs to the bell. Judges scores were 76-74, 77-73, and 78-72. The crowd saw the fight far closer.
2016 American Olympian Mikaela Meyer of Los Angeles (1-0, 1 KO) made a statement in her professional debut, stopping Widnelly Figueroa of Green Bay, Wisconsin (0-2) in the first round. Meyer wasted no time, unleashing punches and forcing Figueroa to take a knee. Referee Lou Moret had already seen enough and stopped the bout at 1:15 of the round. Meyer joins a wave of athletes bringing attention to women’s pro boxing.
Andy Vences of San Jose, California sent Eliseo Cruz of Mexico flying nearly onto press row in round 2 of their super featherweight bout. Cruz beat the count, but the damage was done and Vences stopped the fight for good at 2:21 of the third round. Vences remains undefeated at 19-0 with 11 knockouts; Cruz is 11-4-1, 7 KOs.
Erick DeLeon of Detroit (17-0, 10 KOs) delivered a solid performance with a unanimous decision over Adones Aguelo of Mexico (27-16-2, 18 KOs). Judges scores were 60-54 X 2 and 59-53.
Brazil Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao (18-0, 12 KOs) chased Norberto Gonzalez of Monterrey, Mexico (24-10, 14 KOs) around the ring delivering punches for eight rounds to win their middleweight contest. Judges scores were 80-72 on all three cards. Falcao is now trained by Robert Garcia, with good early results.
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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