Vasiliy Lomachenko of Ukraine is a first-ballot lock for the Hall of Fame. He is among boxing’s all-time best amateurs, with two Olympic gold medals to show for it. Upon entering the professional ranks, Lomachenko made boxing history after just 12 professional fights in 2018, becoming a world champion in three divisions.
Lomachenko now says he has one more significant career goal: to become an undisputed champion. On Saturday, he will get the opportunity for the second time against undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney in Las Vegas.
Lomachenko’s star has acquired a bit of tarnish after losing to Teofimo Lopez at lightweight. Recent performances lacked the dazzle of his earlier fights. At age 35, the Ukrainian’s best days are not likely ahead of him.
Still, Lomachenko’s skill set is virtually unmatched. Footwork? Lomachenko could win “Dancing With The Stars.” Speed? Right there with Manny Pacquiao. Defense? He could teach Floyd Mayweather a thing or two. Armed with these tools, he’s picked apart multiple world champions like it was child’s play.
Let’s review Lomachenko’s best performances ahead of his contest on Saturday in the latest entry in our “Top 3 Fights” series.
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Nicholas Walters: November 26, 2016
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas
In 2016, Nicholas Walters of Jamaica (26-1-1, 21 KOs) was riding high. He’d recently beaten the 2012 Fighter of the Year, Nonito Donaire, in a shocking upset. Now Walters was set to take on the WBA world junior lightweight champion. Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) thoroughly dominated Walters. So thoroughly, Walters quit 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 Walters. He didn’t have to. Lomachenko’s skills are all so on point, he made the undefeated Walters look merely average. Lomachenko picked Walters apart to the head and the body while never putting himself in danger. Lomachenko gave Walters few changes to unleash his power punches. He moved so swiftly Walters was unable to find the target.
After an especially dominating seventh round in which it looked like Lomachenko had decided he was bored and started moving in on Walters to end the fight, 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,” a reminder of another Panamanian quitting during a fight, Roberto Duran. Fans at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas booed Walters.
After the bout, Walters told HBO’s Max Kellerman, “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 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.’
Lomachenko was matter-of-fact about the win, telling HBO, “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.”
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Miguel Marriaga: August 15, 2017
Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles
It’s hard to think of another fighter so dominant in the ring after just ten professional fights. Lomachenko (9-1, 7 KOs) didn’t merely defeat three-time title challenger Miguel Marriaga of Colombia (25-3, 21 KOs). He humiliated Marriaga. Lomachenko outworked and outlanded Marriaga in seven rounds, fearing him so little he started to clown him.
Lomachenko landed 184 of 536 punches, while Marriaga connected on just 45 of 250 punches. His high work rate and strong defense shut Marriaga down like a car with a dead battery. Sitting ringside, Marriaga barely existed in the ring as all eyes including mine were squarely on Lomachenko.
After suffering knockdowns in the third round and again at the end of the seventh round, Marriaga’s corner told referee Jack Reiss he was done for the night. It was a smart decision as a win was simply off the table. It cemented Lomachenko’s reputation for making fighters quit. In an interview after the fight in quickly improving English, Loma joked, “Maybe they should call me No-Mas-Chenko.”
With the win, Lomachenko made his seventh successful defense of his WBO World Super Featherweight title.
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares, May 12, 2018
Madison Square Garden, New York
Four months after defeating Marriaga, Lomachenko watched Guillermo Rigondeaux quit in the sixth round of their super featherweight title fight. With few opponents remaining viable at 130 pounds, Lomachenko made a move to lightweight. Forget a tune-up fight. Lomachenko went straight after Jorge Linares of Venezuela for the WBA World Lightweight title. It was a history-making event, but there were a few bumps along the road.
The hard-hitting, offense-minded Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) delivered plenty of firepower. Finally, Lomachenko had a worthy competitor in front of him. The cards were close. Then Linares stunned Loma and the fans in round six, putting Lomachenko on the canvas with a left hook to the body. Lomachenko looked more sheepish than hurt, later saying it was his mistake letting the knockdown happen.
Often a knockdown forces a fighter to wake up via adrenaline and a greater sense of urgency. Lomachenko bit down and gave more attention to his offense than his defense, applying pressure to throw Linares off stride. Lomachenko slowly regained his momentum, and then caught Linares making his own mistake, digging a revenge-fueled left hook to the body to drop Linares.
The Venezuelan tried his best to beat referee Ricky Gonzalez’s ten count, but he couldn’t stand up. At 2:08 of the tenth round, Lomachenko picked up his most impressive victory in satisfying fashion. Lomachenko made history by earning his third world title in three divisions in just 12 fights. Scores at the time of the stoppage were 86-84 apiece and 85-85. It doesn’t get any closer.