LOS ANGELES – The king of thickets, Vasiliy Lomachenko, was a big favorite to keep his unified world lightweight title against mandatory challenger Anthony Crolla. He did it predominantly on Friday night at the Staples Center.
He hit Crolla's first face with the right hand in the fourth round of the Top Rank Boxing's main event on the ESPN + card in front of a crowd of 10,101 people on the occasion of the first anniversary of the launch of the streaming service.
Lomachenko was as dominant as ever since he retained his title for the second time against Crolla, a former title holder completely outclassed.
Vasiliy Lomachenko seems to be fully recovered from the operation at the shoulder suffered last May. And after an impressive KO win over Anthony Crolla on Friday, the unified lightweight champion has some options for continuing to add belts to his collection.
Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez, world champion of middleweight, passes in the light heavyweight category and realizes a dominant performance against Tommy Karpency Friday night at the Staples Center.
It was a fight that Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KO) did not really want. He took the fight only because it was an obligation.
Lomachenko, a brilliant two-time Olympic gold medalist, unified two 135-pound belts with a one-sided decision on Jose Pedraza in a fight in December in which he dropped Pedraza twice in the 11th round to punctuate the victory. This fight came less than seven months after tearing the right shoulder labrum during the lightweight win over Jorge Linares last May. His shoulder was not 100% in the fight against Pedraza, but everything was fine against Crolla.
"My shoulder was not 100% at my last fight, but tonight I felt good.I have an excellent doctor [Neal ElAttrache]and I want to thank him for everything he has done, "said Lomachenko. The crowd in Los Angeles was great. I've always wanted a fight at Staples Center. This met my expectations. "
It was hard not to be impressed by Lomachenko's performance.
"He is fantastic, unbelievable, I have never seen a fighter of this size be at this level, and this for more than 50 years," said Top Rank President Bob Arum, Lochenko's promoter. "It's almost breathtaking."
Teddy Atlas considers that Vasiliy Lomachenko is not only the # 1 pound-to-pound fighter in the world, but also the # 1 artist in the world.
Lomachenko, who won the world titles in three weight classes, was hoping to further unify the division by playing fellow countryman Richard Commey on Friday night. Top Rank reached an agreement for the winner of the vacant world title fight between Commey and Isa Chaniev on February 2 to face Lomachenko. However, when Commey won the title by forcing Chaniev into the second round, he injured his right hand, placing him on the shelf for several weeks and making him unavailable to face Lomachenko on Friday.
This dramatic event put an end to fighting on Crolla 's lap, even though Lomachenko is expected to face Commey, who was allowed to resume training last week, later in the year.
Crolla could not have been more laudatory than Lomachenko.
"My pride is more painful than my body because I wanted to do my best, but it's just phenomenal," Crolla said. "I knew where I was when the shot hit me on the head, but I just could not get up.I wanted to get out on my shield, but the shot just took me up. and m deprived me of my senses.
"He is very special, he does not lose a ball, he will continue to dominate and do what he wants to do in the sport, my team has worked so hard with me, but he is amazing. It's the first time in My career is like that, so it ends up like that and it starts to be heartbreaking, really, it's even better than I thought, its balance and feet are incredible, and the angles that he takes are incredibly good. "
Lomachenko, a 31-year-old Ukrainian left-hander, started the fight as he always does, stalking his opponent methodically and looking for openness. He finally started to find them against Crolla, putting his forehand and some body shots. Crolla (34-7-3, 13 KOs), 32, from England, barely started a punch and kept going back against Slicker Lomachenko.
Lomachenko began to sink his combinations in the second lap and slipped into an uppercut that tipped Crolla's head into a dominant round.
Lomachenko had a huge third round. He approached everything from every angle, as if it was a target training. Right hands and body blows did damage. Crolla had a lot of problems and was eating strokes along the ropes when a shot hit him violently in the ropes.
Referee Jack Reiss called a reversal because the ropes were responsible for keeping Crolla on his feet, but Lomachenko, the crowd and some officials of the California State Sports Commission thought Reiss had dismissed the fight. He did not have it.
Lomachenko had climbed to the post to celebrate the victory and had to get up. The ring was erased and the fight resumed, but a few moments later, the bell rang to end the round.
When the fourth round started, Lomachenko, who was playing for the 13th time in a world title in his 14 professional fights, pointed Crolla in the ring and asked him if he was fine, then continued to take him apart.
He punched at will and forced Crolla to the ropes. He threw a left hand and followed with a clean right hook on the side of the head that crumpled Crolla. He's lying face first. Reiss started counting but quickly dismissed it to three, giving Lomachenko the dominant victory at 58 seconds.
Crolla said that he knew that he was almost at the end of his career, but he would like a fight in his hometown in Manchester, England, saying goodbye.
"I do not want to go out like that, I've never said I wanted to stay in boxing for too long, but I know it's not going to be long," Crolla said. "J & # 39; hope [Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn] do something in Manchester later in the year and I can go back there. "
Lomachenko's dominance was illustrated by CompuBox's punch statistics. He made 72 shots on 249 (29%), while Crolla got 12 out of 96 (13%).
The fight with Commey (28-2, 25 KO's) could take place later this year, but the fight he really wants is a unification fight with Mikey Garcia, who holds the fourth belt. Errol Spence Jr. dominated Garcia on March 16 for the world welterweight title. He has not decided yet whether he would return in lightweight to defend his title, remain at welterweight or pass a junior welterweight division.
It's a tough fight to fight with Lomachenko who is fighting for the Top Rank on ESPN and Garcia aligns on the Premier Boxing Champions, who is fighting on Showtime and Fox. But after Friday's battle, Arum insisted that he tries to succeed if possible.
But Arum also has another plan in mind if that can not be done, although it's unlikely. Arum is promoting Teofimo Lopez, 21 (12-0, 10 KOs), 2018 year candidate, who calls Lomachenko.
Lopez, who was at the edge of the ring, is fighting on April 20 in New York on the sub-card Terence Crawford-Amir Khan, and Arum said that if Lopez won, he would beat him against Commey for the title of Commey. And if Garcia decides not to come back in weight and on holiday, Arum would like Lomachenko to face his fellow Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell (20-2, 16 KO), from England, Garcia mandatory challenger , for the potentially vacant title. If Lomachenko and Lopez win those fights, Arum said he would match them for the undisputed title in early 2020.
The most elaborate plans rarely work in boxing, not to mention that Lomachenko thinks of an opponent.
"I want to fight with Mikey Garcia, but we'll see, I do not know," Lomachenko said. "I stay at 135 as long as possible, and I want to unify all [the] securities. "