LAS VEGAS, Nev., 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 WBO 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 on Walters. He didn’t have to. Lomachenko’s skills are all so on point he made Walters, an undefeated boxer who got the best of 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire in his own dominant performance in 2015, look merely average.
Footwork? Lomachenko could win “Dancing With The Stars.” Speed? Right there with the master, 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 moves so swiftly and nimbly around his opponents, they can’t ever find the target.
By the seventh round, Lomachenko decided he was bored. He started moving in on Walters to end the fight. Though he survived the round, 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 longtime fans of the controversial episode in which Panamanian Robert Duran quit at the hands of American Sugar Ray Leonard.
It’s true Walters was at Lomachenko’s mercy and in danger of being knocked out. it is the ethos of most fighters to carry on, to look for any opportunity no matter how improbable to turn the tide before the final bell rings. It’s hard to argue with Walters’ logic when thinking long term about his future well-being. But it didn’t make fans at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas too happy as they booed him for quitting.
After the bout, Walters blamed his poor performance on ring rust. 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. “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 in the 135 pound super lightweight and 140 pound junior welterweight divisions. The latter is where American pound for pound contender Terence Crawford competes for the same promoter, Top Rank. Top Rank’s major star is Manny Pacquiao, who said after his recent win that he’d be happy to drop back from 147 pounds 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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