Almost Go Time For (Still Magnificent?) Vasiliy Lomachenko



Almost Go Time For (Still Magnificent?) Vasiliy Lomachenko

Vasiliy Lomachenko is just about back. The majestic talent was last seen by many getting upset by Teofimo Lopez, who himself subsequently got stung by a hungry sniper. The Ukrainian practitioner seems keen to get back to the ring to show his fan-base that he's got more than something left, he's still at the very top of the heap of active boxing talents.

On Saturday, Loma (15-2) steps in against someone considered a viable opponent, Richard Commey. This is a face-off between two older statesmen, with Loma turning 34 in February, and the 30-3 man from Ghana turning 35 in March.

Are their best days and fight nights behind each man? Don't tell either former lightweight crown holder, but maybe so.

Ah, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost the ability to campaign, still, at a lofty height, and entertain fans.

We suspect Loma, though, will prevail in fine fashion at Madison Square Garden, the big room, because that loss to Lopez lit a fire under his ass, and quite possibly set the table for a resurgence.

Vasiliy Lomachenko speaks at Dec. 9 boxing press conference in NYC

Maybe the loss to Lopez will prove to be weirdly beneficial to Loma… if it plays out that the Teofimo fight helped re-light a fire underneath him. He’s had almost 500 fights, yeah, it could get a wee bit stale….

Commey got stopped by Lopez in December 2019, and returned to snag a W against Jackson Marinez, scoring a KO6 victory, in February 2021. Loma got some luster back too, he defeated Masayoshi Nakatani by round 9 stoppage in June of this year.

Here is the release sent out by Top Rank on Thursday:

NEW YORK (Dec. 9, 2021)—The former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko has saved some of his best performances for the New York City spotlight.

He hopes to do it again Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden in the 12-round lightweight main event against former world champion Richard Commey (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Lomachenko vs. Commey headlines a quadruple-header airing after the Heisman Trophy Ceremony. 

Heavyweight knockout artist Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (10-0, 10 KOs) returns in an eight-rounder against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Teslenko (17-1, 13 KOs), recent U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (3-0, 2 KOs) takes on Mexican veteran Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round lightweight tilt, and middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs), grandson of “The Greatest,” opens the telecast in a four-rounder versus Reyes Sanchez (6-0, 2 KOs).

The ESPN+-streamed undercard (5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT) features Puerto Rican junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas (11-0, 8 KOs) in a six-rounder, and Kelvin Davis (2-0, 1 KO) in a four-rounder at welterweight.

At Thursday's press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Vasiliy Lomachenko

“Madison Square Garden is a special place for me because during my professional career I had a lot of memorable fights here. It is the Mecca of Boxing. Thank you, Commey, you are a strong fighter. I think we are giving a very interesting fight to the fans. As I said before, he has big power and reach and has experience and a big heart.”

Loma is comfortable fighting in MSG

“I’m very excited because this is the next step of my boxing career, and it will be very interesting for the fans.”

Richard Commey

“I’m feeling good. I’m very excited. This is my second time coming here. The last time didn’t work out well for me {against Teofimo Lopez}, so I have the opportunity to right the wrong.”

Commey looks like he’s relaxed and ready to rumble

“I’ve got all of my country {Ghana} behind me. I’ve got all of the little children back home who want to be where I am, and I know it’s not an easy fight, but I’m coming. Losing is part of boxing, so regardless of how you lose, it’s all about coming back. So whatever happened with the Teofimo Lopez fight, it is what it is and I took it as a man. I knew I needed to come back and I came back very strong, and that is the reason why Loma chose me, and Saturday we are going to see what happens.”

Jared Anderson

“I’ll be honest, he let a cruiserweight stop him, so that says it all. I had a pretty tough camp emotionally, but we came physically. We're now mentally prepared, thanks to my team. They mean a lot to me. They're behind me.

Oleksandr Teslenko

“I know I’m the underdog, but I don’t care what people say.

Nico Ali Walsh

“This is such a humbling experience and it’s been an honor. It's been a whirlwind these last couple of months, and to be among these great fighters… all these fighters I've watched before in the past. Being on the undercard of Lomachenko is amazing.”

Xander Zayas

“I have to close out the year strong and put on a show here at Madison Square Garden.”

“I've been having a lot of fun here in New York. It means a lot to me. it means a lot to the Puerto Rican fans. My team came off a great victory two weeks ago {with George Kambosos Jr.} here at Madison Square Garden, so I want to keep that momentum going, I'm ready to put on a show Saturday night, and now it's laser focus.”

Keyshawn Davis

“I’m signed with Top Rank, the {Olympics} are over, and I feel like there is really no more pressure. It’s all business at this point. I believe in myself. I know I can fight. I'm going to go in there like I've been doing this entire year. We're just going to keep this train going.”

Kelvin Davis

“This means a lot to me. It’s like a dream come true with me and my brother on the same card.”

SATURDAY, December 11, 2021

ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Richard Commey, 12 rounds, vacant WBO Intercontinental Lightweight Title

Jared Anderson vs. Oleksandr Teslenko, 8 rounds, Anderson's Jr. NABF Heavyweight Title

Anderson by the end of next year should be in possession of a starter title

Keyshawn Davis vs. Jose Zaragoza, 6 rounds, lightweight

Nico Ali Walsh vs. Reyes Sanchez, 4 rounds, middleweight

ESPN+, 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT

Xander Zayas vs. Alessio Mastronunzio, 6 rounds, junior middleweight

Ali Walsh listens as Zayas speaks during presser in NYC

Pablo Valdez vs. Julio Cesar Sanchez, 6 rounds, welterweight

James Wilkins vs. Juan Tapia, 8 rounds, featherweight

Joe Ward vs. Britton Norwood, 6 rounds, light heavyweight

Kelvin Davis vs. Ryan Schwartzberg, 4 rounds, welterweight

John Bauza vs. Michael Williams Jr., 8 rounds, junior welterweight

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.