“The rare people who do become truly exceptional at something do so not because they believe they're exceptional. On the contrary, they become obsessed with improvement. And that improvement stems from an unerring belief that they are in fact, not that great at all.”
She knows. Whatever relationship WBO super featherweight champion and reigning world #1 Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1) has with the mirror is one of understanding. For as brash as he is away from it in machismo, the ballerina inside reflects an otherworldly desire for perfection, arrogance be damned. This is Tom Brady with a smirk that will torture his inner supermodel to ring cat walk supreme.
You just might juggle four balls in the squared circle, do spin moves while striking the speed bag or damn near drown yourself daily as a freediver during training camp for every fight. Y'know, the kinda shit that Neo wouldn't do. As a result, he's dumped elite fighters from all over the world into a blender and consumed them. Whether he's taking a speed demon in Gary Russell Jr. and putting a yellow light in front of him, or humiliating Guillermo Rigondeaux to the point where he completely stops tweeting, or making Nicholas Walters take out ads for the location of his Ax, there's no one that offers comparison so that's pointless. This guy has been in competition with himself.
“Lomachenko has been protected as a professional, we have to see what he has because now he is facing a very experienced boxer in the best moment of his career. We will see what he brings,” WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (44-3) said last month.
He wasn't done.
“It's going to be interesting, we're pretty technical fighters, it's a good fight. I'm right and he's left-handed. We will see how good he is going to be and then take advantage of the fact that I am bigger. We will see how he comes out, if he goes out to box or to attack, because he is going to face a fighter who is two times bigger than him.”
Downloaded and noted.
Linares did look big at Wednesday's outdoor glitzy workout on 33rd and 8th Ave in the Big Apple adjacent Madison Square Garden. Watching what appeared to be a long fighter set to enter the ring every bit of 150lbs added an allure of looming suspense. Saturday night's fight for the proud Venezuelan's lightweight belt will be held in the “Gahd-en”, not inside of The Theatre where Lomachenko has performed on a few occasions. In many respects, this is his Broadway debut, as boxing's international A-list performer wore a subdued black and red look of a killer set to do things Sinatra-style.
“It's one thing to fight at the Theater at the Garden, it's a lovely room and all but, it's another thing to fight in the big building where so many of the greats fought, said Lomachenko's legendary promoter, Top Rank boss Bob Arum.
“(Muhammad) Ali fought at the Garden, (Oscar) De La Hoya, (Miguel) Cotto — Manny(Pacquiao) never fought at the Garden, (Floyd) Mayweather never fought at the Garden. For Lomachenko to headline a card in the big building that's an achievement for any, any boxer.”
But will he achieve a standing ovation worthy of an encore? I think so.
Lomachenko Drowns A Blood N Gutsy Linares Via Late TKO
He doesn't want to lose at all, so he won't. The pound-for-pound champ goes from bullying a fighter too small, to risking being bullied by a fighter too big. But that's what the best fighter in the world is supposed to do. So called “experts” were incredulously split on his last outing with Rigondeaux, a fight I saw 99.9% Loma all day. This is different. Linares fights with a very rare desire and has an extreme desire to win himself. Forget the Salido fight, that Lomachenko is gone– killed by “The Matrix.” He became something supernatural following a June 2016 massacre of Rocky Martinez, as evidenced by what he's done since. You'd have thought that he'd lost to Rigondeaux considering how disappointed he was with the result. It was never going to be a challenge and he knew it. But Linares is an A- fighter of length and volume that will fiercely approach Lomachenko in a way he'll consider obnoxious.
He will not quit on his stool or lose his mind trying to compete with Loma. He will. And he'll win rounds. He's the champion and he'll fight like it. Linares actually uses a jab consistently and has a nice right hand and a nasty lead uppercut; plus he uses his lanky frame in a very athletic way while fighting tall. This is a difficult fight for Lomachenko. But Linares is not especially difficult to strike, has lapses in concentration and is prone to cuts. Those three intangibles will ultimately get him chopped up in what should be an absolute classic. This fight, more than all others, will prove Lomachenko is not only an all-time great, but one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
He'll take a bow before the crowd and hear New York City roar, as the 2018 version of “The Matrix” claims the WBA lightweight championship and defends his pound-for-pound preeminence via 11th round TKO over a game Jorge Linares.