The MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland played host to arguably the most talented fighter in the game Saturday night in Vasyl Lomachenko, who, decked out in green and black in tribute to his newest moniker, “The Matrix,” well and truly lived up to the lofty expectations that many have placed upon him. Indeed, he put on a display that could have been deemed science fiction, such was the marvel of it.
Against a tough Jason Sosa, Lomachenko was nothing short of dazzling. The way in which he seamlessly switched between offensive brilliance and defensive prowess was a sight to behold. Much of that brilliance came from his masterful footwork; superlatives don’t fully encapsulate the virtuosity of his movements. Lomachenko reads his opponents much like Neo reads ‘the matrix’ and it’s almost unfair.
Sosa proved a game opponent and he did his best to take the fight to Lomachenko, but it was clear he was no match for the Ukrainian. It was a shutout right from the opening bell. Most of Sosa’s punches seemed to find nothing but air and in return he was peppered with blows from all angles.
It took nine one-sided rounds for Sosa’s corner to stop the fight, although one can’t help but feel that had Lomachenko not been having so much fun, he may have ended it sooner. Much like a cat toying with a mouse, Lomachenko played with his outmatched opponent. He taunted Sosa as he effortlessly slipped his punches, at one point mimicking a matador taunting a rushing bull with his cape; he even imitated the clearly outgunned Sosa several times, the better to demonstrate his total superiority. It’s clear that Lomachenko the showman is now a key part of his persona.
In the end, “Hi-Tech” landed 275 punches compared to a paltry 68 from Sosa. The fight was a mismatch but it’s clearly becoming a daunting task to find worthy opposition for the former amateur star. When one looks at not just his domination of Sosa, but also his one-sided wins over Nicholas Walters and Roman Martinez, one cannot help but conclude that nothing short of the very best opposition available can even dream about giving the Ukrainian virtuoso a competitive battle, let alone defeating him. According to the man himself, unification is now top of the list, but failing that, a jump in weight is the next step.
“I’m going to call Bob (Arum) and tell him I only want to fight champions,” said Lomachenko after the bout. “I am going to ask if we can get any of the 130-pound champions. If they refuse to fight, I’m gonna move up to 135. I’d like to fight Flanagan in England. [Mikey] Garcia would be great. I’d like to make that fight soon.”
Garcia and Flanagan are both mouth-watering matchups but it seems that Lomachenko also has other big names on his radar. There’s also the only man to have defeated him in the professional ranks, Orlando Salido, and another pound-for-pound claimant in Terence Crawford.
“The first time we fought, it was like a third-grader fighting a 12th-grader,” said Lomachenko of “Siri.” “I’ve now graduated and I want to invite Salido to my university. And I’m working my way toward Terence Crawford. I know that’s a big fight, and I know people want to see it.”
But whatever matches happen in the coming months, Lomachenko has already proven himself one of the most gifted fighters to grace the boxing landscape in many years. He is a unique and astonishing talent, the kind that we see only a few times in each generation. His skill set is unmatched in today’s fight game, and the only downside is that without big name opponents to battle, it’s likely his talents will go undiscovered by mainstream sports fans. And that would be a real shame. — Daniel Attias