Last week, while many media members were divided about a Guillermo Rigondeaux I was beyond sure would be conquered by WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, the temptation to process larger than life dream fights was overwhelming.
Whenever a ring superstar gets another star rival semi automatic'd, the fans of the fallen become cyber fashion faux pas victims, while the victor gets doused in hyperbole from denizens under the spell of idolatry.
There is no smelling salt for this until he loses.
It leads to a litany of what ifs, complete with all of the “ands” and “buts” that superfight supposition brings. Before Loma made Rigo start wondering if somebody still had a bunkbed for him in Cuba, the thought of the Ukrainian wunderkind defeating “The Best Ever” version of Floyd Mayweather had already been chronicled with this question: “Would Vasyl Lomachenko Beat Floyd Mayweather At Super Featherweight?”
ESPN senior writer Dan Rafael, among many with ambiguity regarding the outcome of a now infamous December 9, was wondering via Twitter on Sunday morning if Loma would indeed beat the all-world Mayweather at 130, where he was virtually invincible. Like an asshole, I just had to attach that article to Dan's audience as the authenticator of that discussion weeks back. Among the responders on that thread was someone posing undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis or concievably Lewis himself, whose opinion more than mattered. In a cool exchange, “Lewis” decided to tell me that Mayweather would win.
Mayweather, in his prime at 130, was simply a masterpiece. Featuring some of the most beautifully calibrated ring movement in the history of ring artistry, Pretty Boy Floyd's invisible defense was augmented by a stealthy, laser-like offense of immaculate precision. So why do I believe Mayweather, who would dominate virtually any champion that ever existed at super featherweight, would lose to this Lomachenko?
Beyond what's stated in the above article, to have nearly 400 amateur fights and win all of them (he avenged the one loss a few times) as the greatest amateur fighter of all-time proves a degree greatness. But its actually his loss to Orlando Salido, in just his 2nd pro fight, that fuels my conviction he'd beat Floyd. His mental toughness was off the charts in just two pro fights and it made him a man. No amount of money could force Salido into a rematch, especially after he witnessed the clinic over Gary Russell Jr. in his very next fight.
Who does that?
Mayweather is a much more nuanced and versatile fighter than Rigondeaux. But Floyd, like Rigondeaux, was a waiter often late with service. Lomachenko would initiate things more and go get his own refills, while not leaving any tips.
Most fighters will tell you, if they're honest, that Mayweather really didn't like dealing with southpaws; and if a crude, semi-conditioned southpaw journeyman black fighter by the name of Emanuel Augustus could give Floyd major fits, then Lomachenko's Neo would frustrate Floyd like never before.
There are times where Loma would actually polarize Floyd with aspects of himself, while clipping him with things not found in barbershop conversations. He actually surpasses Floyd in conditioning, and would have an arrogance in applying his craft that makes really good fighters….quit. That is a fight where that Floyd, without his father, would really need him and he wasn't around.
Years later, after having his face rearranged by a Miguel Cotto he thought was washed up, Money went and made some change with Floyd Sr before facing an older Shane Mosley. Lomachenko would have a vast mental edge in his father, Anatoly, in his corner for a bout with Mayweather minus Floyd Sr.
There's no way the Mayweather from super featherweight would beat this Lomachenko.
***** ****** ******
Then comes the question of his contemporary and my favorite fighter of all-time, Manny Pacquiao. More than a few fans wanted me to weigh in on this mythical match-up so let's get it.
In May 2009, Pacquiao was the epitome of “Pac-Man”. A mesmerizing ensemble of lightning speed and charismatic ferocity, Pacquiao was a hybrid unpredictable blitz from the Chicago Bears “46 Defense” and Aaron Pryor on whatever Panama Lewis used to put in his water. His footwork was Bruno Mars and his stamina was Michael Phelps in a swimming pool. Pacquiao gave you the idea that he could climb Mt. Everest and sing badly on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that night. He damn near killed Ricky Hatton, in five of the most terrifying minutes of his life.
But that Pacquiao would also lose to this Lomachenko.
Lomachenko would get chin checked enough to understand that he couldn't fuck around with Manny, and he would have to unveil the one major advantage he would have over Pacquiao: otherworldly Olympic experience.
Superior fundamentals and a rare ability to actually out-angle Pacquiao, would allow Vasyl to eventually time and matador the Filipino icon in a way that wouldn't allow him to win enough rounds. It’s a spectacular fight that would feature more than a few breathtaking moments, because fortunately for fans, Lomachenko would actually believe in taking risks with an extremely volatile Pacquiao. But he'd survive a few rough seas to sail to victory.
The only fighters I believe would have been capable of beating this Lomachenko is a mid-70's Roberto Duran, or, according to his progression, the absolutely destructive Edwin Valero. Top Rank's Bob Arum is a promoter that wants to witness and test greatness, which is why he pushed a super featherweight Floyd into all-time great discussion with tough fights.
We'll find out more about Loma soon. There's the possibility of war with the winner of January bout between WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares V Mercito Gesta at The Forum in LA on HBO. That could lead to a rather personal, super showdown with unbeaten WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia. If he wins that, then possible super lightweight glory awaits this record setting ring immortal in the making, now that Terence “Bud” Crawford adds more glamour to welterweight.
Either way, both fans and haters of Lomachenko will have a lot to be excited about in 2018, as the best pound-for-pound fighter will look to dazzle the world with his growing legend.