They take the greats from the past and compare us. I wonder if they'd ever survive in this era? In this time where it's recreation to unwrap gifts from the present and then give them away as presents for future consideration.
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Vasyl Lomachenko aka “The Matrix”
Jose “Sniper” Pedraza
LIVE on ESPN @9pm ET, from Hulu Theater inside Madison Square Garden in New York City
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An exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities, is as common for the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet as is an otherworldy work ethic.
“I want to put my name in boxing history,” declared Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1, 9KOs), preeminent virtuouso of the squared ring arts and arrogant enough to turn down a fight with Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao.
Who says that's a bad thing? Loma saw “Pac-Man” as a has been from a bygone era– on the night he mopped the floor with Chris Algieri in China way back in November 2014; having assessed the Filipino icon with a fresh cast after smashing his hand and a then 51-1 Suriya Tatakhun in just his 4th fight on that undercard.
A conceited person never gets anywhere– he's always sure he's already there. Those were the whispers of fate surrounding the all-time great from Ukraine before his first pro fight– which he wanted to be against Mikey Garcia for a world title. This, after a 396-1 amateur career that included an avenging of that lone defeat and Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012. After signing Loma, Top Rank boss Bob Arum told the world that Lomachenko was the most special talent he'd seen since Muhammad Ali in his prime.
It's not hubris if it proves to be logic. If not for that broken hand, only a thoroughly outclassed super talent in Gary Russell Jr sees the distance with him. When asked by myself what it would take to again face what he knew nearly five years ago as an arrogant and conceited man of hubris simply nicknamed “Hi-Tech” at The Forum in Los Angeles last summer, Orlando Salido simply deadpanned: “Nothing. I'll never fight him again.”
That's because he knew he'd turned him into “The Matrix'.
It's a cold day in the middle of January 2017 and Gervonta “Tank” Davis has just bombed and roll over Jose “Sniper” Pedraza to capture the IBF super featherweight belt at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Seated next to me at ringside to observe Davis is legendary boxing writer Thomas Hauser, who is so impressed with “The One” (Davis has called himself this for one fight only, in a clear diss of Lomachenko) that he believes Davis would not only be competitive with Loma– but that he'd most likely defeat him. I look at him as if he's singing the theme song of M*A*S*H very badly. At one point during the fight, Tank goes Neo on Pedraza, simulating the bullet dodging superhero with Loma-esque showmanship before opening up the Gatling Gun.
In possession of an eidetic memory and a visual acuity not seen since prime versions of Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather, Lomachenko, who'd shockingly made the fearsome Nicholas “Axeman” Walters utter a “No Mas” more disturbing than that rendered by the great Roberto Duran at the hands of Sugar Ray, unveiled “The Matrix” in full cinematic color in response to what he deemed an obnoxious insult at the expense of Jason Sosa, whose entire camp was forced to utter “No Mas”. Manual Marriaga would put those words on repeat, as would the great Guillermo Rigondeaux. Jorge Linares, the best lightweight in the world not named Loma or Mikey, fights Lomachenko with vengeance and all the pride of Venezuela — even managing a flash knockdown, before being put together and disassembled with one body in the 10th round.
Bob Arum, eager to preserve his prized ward and a wounded shoulder following the instant classic with Linares, knows what he's doing in pairing the WBA lightweight champion with WBO champ Pedraza…
..on Saturday night for another shot at history: unified world champion.
If “I Know What You Did To Vasyl Lomachenko V Mikey Garcia” I know what Don Bob won't do to Vasyl Lomachenko V Gervonta Davis.
With all the arrogance of an aristocrat out to leave an indelible impression on all foes within radar, look for “The Matrix” to turn in another vintage performance worthy of an encore curtain call, as Vasyl Lomachenko, #1, goes Neo-Neo over a game Jose Pedraza in six savage rounds.