He was asked Wednesday, with your reputation having grown, are expectations now sky high?
Too high? Are people thinking that you, Vasyl Lomachenko, are going to beat Jorge Linares, and it will be easy work?
“It won't be easy work,” Lomachenko told me.
Indeed it wasn't; the Ukrainian ate a counter right that put him on his butt in round six at the big room in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. But Loma pressed on…and when he was dancing Loma, sliding, getting into a rhythm he was taking rounds. In the tenth, the combo of the footwork and the peppy combos, punctuated by a body blow, put Linares down, had him in a daze, to the point he got up, but was in no shape to continue.
Game over for Linares, the ref stated. The end came at 2:08 of the tenth, and no way, it was not easy work at Madison Square Garden, the most famous arena in the world, and on ESPN.
Loma had to contend with a guy who at times seemed the larger man, one that wasn't too bothered by his power, one that had ample speed and accuracy and timing in his arsenal. But not as much as Loma, who on Friday night took the 2017 Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year award at their awards gala at the Copa. He is the lead dog to grab the 2018 version, too.
“It was a great fight. That right hand, it was a great punch. It happens,” Loma said after, as the 10,429 in attendance filed out.
“I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father told me, ‘You need to go to the body. Linares is a great champion, and the fight was good for the fans and everybody.”
Linares after said he could have continued, and some fans booed, because they saw his body language.
Linares WBA and the RING 135 belts were up for grabs, for the record. This is a belt grabbed in a third weight division for the all-star hitter, by the way. Too early to say he's Hall of Fame bound? I say not…
Top Rank, headed by Bob Arum, put together and promoted the seven bout card, topped by their Ukrainian dazzler.
Loma (10-1 entering, with 8 K)s; born in Ukraine) was 134.6 on Friday, while Linares (44-3 entering, with 27 Kos; born in Venezuela) was 134.6.
In the first, both men showed solid hand speed, and composure. This was a feeling out session, with Loma edging forward a bit more, both men leadnig, then countering, and at times punching together. Tight round.
In the second, Loma came on late, not enough to win the round. Linares’ right found a home few times and also did good work underneath.
In the third, Loma’s movement was in fuller effect. He was getting angles on the champ now.
In the fourth, Linares had luck with a counter right, and body work. But Loma in the last third of the round was somewhat having his way with the Venezuelan. I had it 2-1-1, for Loma, to this point.
In the fifth, Loma so deftly slid right and got an angle and whacked. His jab, short, but not sweet, was pesky, not a pole-axe. He used it blind Linares and then hurl speedy-power follows.
In the sixth, Linares’ speed and timing and accuracy impressed. His right to the body, his left hook, they scored a few times. But Loma, and his majestic feet, he landed more. Then a counter right put Loma on his butt.
In the seventh, it was tight. Linares’ hand speed, accuracy and timing are no joke. This thing was not going to be a runaway.
In the eighth, it was peppy Loma, getting off and then sliding and flurrying again. His feet were again the key, when he is in dance mode, he’s hard to get a bead on.
In round 9, Loma dance and slid, and then got caught in a Linares storm, and rained on.
To 10—Loma was very active, his feet were busy ad so were the hands. And down went Linares. And he wouldn’t continue, though he got up.