As I mentioned in my earlier post, this weekend has three top level fights, 2 in MMA and one in Boxing: this is that fight. Vasyl Lomachenko is, in my opinion, the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world. Terrance Crawford and Errol Spence have a seat at the table, but Lomachenko is the king at this moment in time. He will look to continue his dominance and add to his argument when he takes on fellow Lightweight Champion Jose Pedraza to unify the division.
To follow up last week’s exciting boxing fight between two great Heavyweight boxers with the best pound-for-pound fighter trying to unify a division is like following up the college football championship with the Super Bowl in back-to-back weekends.
To say Vasyl Lomachanko is a great boxer is an understatement. His mastery of the sweet science is truly something to appreciate each and every time he fights. In his last bout, he moved up in weight and fought Lightweight lineal champion Jorge Linares in a potential fight of the year. Linares was the bigger man and matched Lomachenko in boxing acumen through 10 hard fought rounds.
Lomachenko dislocated his shoulder in the second round and popped it back into place in between rounds. He was also dropped in the 6th round by a straight right from Linares. The end of the fight though, came on a flurry from Lomachenko and a hard liver shot from which Linares could not recover. That is the definition of fighting through adversity to win a championship.
Lomachenko fights with speed, power, and precision. He uses angles defensively to escape opponents’ counter punching and to set up new openings for his offense. He is technical and methodical and is rarely out of control in a fight. His only professional loss came very early in his career against Orlando Salido in a very rough fight. Looking back, it is hard to believe that Lomachenko lost to Salido with how much of a difference they have in boxing skill. At 11-1, a casual fan may assume Lomachenko is inexperienced, however, that record hides the 396-1 amateur record.
Jose Pedraza is a 29 year old Lightweight champion fighting out of Puerto Rico. He is a tall lightweight at 5’ 8 1/2'” and fights behind a long jab and digging body punches. In his last fight against champion Ray Beltran, he fought smart and used his length and elusiveness to batter the champion in an equally matched bout. The momentum changed in the fight when Pedraza switched his stance to southpaw and landed a hard left-handed uppercut. He poured it on from there and ended the fight with momentum, earning the fight and winning the championship.
Pedraza lost in January of 2017 to a very fast and skilled boxer by the name of Gervonta Davis by 7th round KO. He had a horrible game plan and played right into his opponent’s strengths. He did wear out Davis in the middle rounds and was able to get some leather on him but eventually the speed and power of Davis overwhelmed Pedraza and he lost his IBF super featherweight title. Lomachenko is better in almost every way than Davis.
If Pedraza did not learn from his fight with Gervonta Davis, I fear that this will be much like a fight we have seen in the past, mainly Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs the late Arturo Gatti. In this fight, Arturo Gatti looked like his feet were stuck in cement and his hands had 50-lb weights attached to them. He looked slow to Mayweather’s speed and precision. Mayweather dismantled Gatti and this is the fight I see happening tonight in my mind’s eye. I have Lomachenko by destruction in the 5th round.
I will be watching this fight to witness greatness at work. If Lomachenko wins, this sets him up for future fights against bigger names that will be more competitive like Mikey Garcia or the previously-mentioned Gervonta Davis.
What: Lomachenko vs Pedraza to Unify the Lightweight Division
Where to watch: ESPN
When: Saturday December 8th, 2018
Time: 8:00 PM CST