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Low Key Star Lomachenko Offers Usual Chill Before Showing Off Skill Set Saturday, on ESPN

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Low Key Star Lomachenko Offers Usual Chill Before Showing Off Skill Set Saturday, on ESPN

He isn’t in a realm of over confidence, and you know that, because his foes never take umbrage at him.

Vasyl Lomachenko on Thursday, at Madison Square Garden, made clear that his Saturday bout against Jose Pedraza will be harder than people are thinking, but that doesn’t mean he won’t handle his business with a tyical level of efficency and flair.

Loma was asked what he thinks he will see from Pedraza. He gave a sum-up with his usual mix of directness, confidence and honesty. “His style not very interesting and not comfortable for all boxers. Because he was sits on defense and wait for your mistake,” he told NYF. “If you’ve seen all my fights, it will be the same with Marriaga, as in the same style.” For the record, he is referring to a Sept 2017 win, a seventh round stoppage, over Miguel Marriaga.

I told him I think he downs Pedraza, and we need not over-analyze that, because it hasn’t happened. So, shall we look to 2019? “I want to fight every week,” he said, cracking himself up…”If serious, I want to fight Mikey Garcia. I think this fight will happen. Maybe in the summer. But it’s a question not for me,” he said, the implication being Mikey beats to his own drum, and we can't begin to guess when he’ll bang it and where.

By the way, the fighter’s English is getting better and better, he said, but the learning is very hard. “Just because of you guys, I learn English talking with you,” Klimas said he said.

My three cents: Loma is a low key star. He has a sense of humor but chooses to show it not that frequently. He won’t stir up mock drama, scream at foes, agree silently to be in a push me pull you shoving match to juice sales and web clicks. In this age, his brand of boxer and personality makes him a slower build, one that might have a lower popularity ceiling, on the climb up the stardom/earning power leverage. But you have to, I think, like the way he says he wants to take stiffest tests..and isn’t an A hole about it…and will admit to his ceiling, he tells us he’s better under 140 pounds. No, I don’t think this guy pushes the sport to another level. His brand of pugilism truly is of the sweet science variety. There’s nuance in play, and subtlety…and um, not sure you’ve noticed. But those elements are not as revered or even tolerated as in days passed. But he’s a really nifty stylist, and reps the sport well. He will show that off, on RSPN, and at the MSG Theater, Saturday night.

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Here is the release TR sent out:

NEW YORK CITY (Dec. 6, 2018) – WBA lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and WBO lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza exchanged pleasantries on a brisk New York afternoon two days before their title unification tilt, Saturday evening at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET).

In the co-feature, Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe will make the second defense of his WBO junior featherweight world title against Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete. Dogboe snatched the title from Jessie Magdaleno back in April and defended it Aug. 25 with a first-round knockout over Hidenori Otake.

In the televised opener, unbeaten lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez faces his toughest test to date in veteran Mason Menard.

And, in a special attraction (ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET), 2016 Italian Olympian Guido Vianello will make his pro debut against Luke Lyons in a six-round heavyweight clash.

Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from Madison Square Garden's Chase Square.

Vasiliy Lomachenko

On his surgically repaired shoulder

“I had a very interesting camp. I had hard sparring sessions and good preparation for this fight. I used all of my punches, and I think it will be the same as before {the surgery}.”

On Pedraza as a challenge

“I can't answer that now. I need to feel what he brings, and after that, I can compare.”

“His style is not very interesting and not comfortable for all boxers because he's always on defense and waiting for a mistake. If you've seen my fights, it will be similar to the {Miguel} Marriaga fight. They have the same style.”

On fighters out there who are a challenge

“In my weight class and closer to my weight class, we don't have a big superstar. Yes, we have big names at 147, but I can't move up to 147 now because it's too much {weight}, I think.”

On Manny Pacquiao

“I'm not disrespecting Pacquiao, but I don't want to make my name bigger because I beat an old legend. I have my own road. There are a lot of good fighters to fight who are comparable to me. He's old. I think his career is done. I don't want to become a legend in boxing because of him.”

On his plans for 2019

“Seriously, I want a fight with Mikey Garcia. I think this fight will happen. Then, I don't know.”

Jose Pedraza

“Since the moment I signed to fight {Ray} Beltran, I knew that the winner was going to fight Lomachenko. Mentally, I've been preparing, staying positive, staying focused, and also physically, I'm well prepared.”

“I had a great training camp for this fight. Lomachenko is a great fighter, a complete fighter, and I know that I will have to be at my best. I am prepared to put on a good fight.”

“Me {unifying} the titles on Saturday would mean a lot to {Puerto Rico}. It would be the first Christmas after what happened with Hurricane Maria. Definitely, me winning on Saturday would bring a lot of joy and blessings to the island.”

Isaac Dogboe

“We couldn't have asked for a better 2018. Before entering into 2018, my uncle said to me, ‘All you have to do is dance into 2018. Be happy.' And that's exactly what we did. We started by knocking out Cesar Juarez, another fine Mexican fighter. And we moved on to Jessie Magdaleno, another tough world champion. He's one of the best in my division. And after that, we defended it against Hidenori Otake, one of Japan's toughest fighters. It's been a blessing. Three knockouts out of three fights, and this will be four knockouts out of four fights in 2018. It's always been a blessing.”

“Emanuel Navarrete is also one of Mexico's finest fighters, as tough as they come. He reminds me of Israel Vazquez and Juan Manuel Marquez. These are great, great legendary fighters. When he talks about the fighting spirit of the Mexicans, you know he's going to come and fight.”

Emanuel Navarrete

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to fight a great super bantamweight champion like Isaac Dogboe. What better way to become a world champion than to do it on a stage like Madison Square Garden.”

“Maybe people don't know me, but I've had a great career in my country and I'm focused on taking advantage of this opportunity and bringing the title home to Mexico.”

Teofimo Lopez

“It's my fourth time {fighting at Madison Square Garden}. Like always, I am here to put on a show and ‘The Takeover.' That's what I've always said, and come Saturday night, we're here to take over the show.”

“2019, I will become world champion.”

“I know Mason Menard. He's going to definitely come out there and fight, bring the fight. But they all try the same thing, and it's not going to work. No matter what they do, no matter what they try, they're in there with a real one.”

Guido Vianello

“When I started in boxing, my dream was to go to the Olympics and go to America for a fight in Madison Square Garden with Top Rank. So now the dream {has come true}. I am very excited and ready for this fight.”

“I am a mix between {Wladimir} Klitschko and Muhammad Ali. I move in the ring and I am aggressive. I want to box and fight.”

On training with Abel Sanchez

“I have the best training in the world. The training was very hard every day in Big Bear. We ran every morning. For this, I am very, very ready for the fight.”

ESPN, 9 p.m. ET

Vasiliy Lomachenko (WBA lightweight champion) vs. Jose Pedraza (WBO lightweight champion), 12 rounds, lightweight unification

Isaac Dogboe (champion) vs. Emanuel Navarrete (challenger), 12 rounds, WBO junior featherweight world title

Teofimo Lopez vs. Mason Menard,10 rounds, lightweight

ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET

Alexander Besputin vs. Juan Carlos Abreu, 10 rounds, Besputin's USBA welterweight title

Guido Vianello vs. Luke Lyons, 6 rounds, heavyweight

Josue Vargas vs. John Renteria, 8 rounds, super lightweight

Michael Perez vs. Abdiel Ramirez, 8 rounds, super lightweight

Brian Ceballo vs. Daniel Calzada, 6/4 rounds, welterweight

Editor/publisher Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the thought to be impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. 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. He now does work for PROBOX TV, the first truly global boxing network.