By Michael Rosenthal
LOS ANGELES – No one is surprised to see that Vasyl Lomachenko dominated and then stopped Anthony Crolla in three or more rounds on Friday in a center full of Staples. That's what we expect from the assistant of Ukrainian boxing, who has overwhelmed almost all his opponents.
What makes a victory like this particularly impressive – apart from the violent but magnificent ballet that Lomachenko plays in the ring – is this: Crolla is a former champion, an experienced world-class boxer and he was made to seem helpless . Lomachenko did not just beat the proud Englishman, he embarrassed him.
This is why Lomachenko is considered by many to be the transcendent talent of this generation. He does it again and again. Once again: no surprise, always so wonderful.
Lomachenko, WBA and WBO lightweight title holder, was not enthusiastic about dealing with Crolla. The plan was to tackle IBF champion Richard Commey in a fight for unification of the title, but Commey could not fight because of an injury, which opened the door to Crolla, Lomachenko's mandatory challenger. WBA.
Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KO) wants meaningful fights, not mundane clashes against opponents with little hope of competing with him. Of course, if he was disappointed, he did not show it.
A bustling crowd of 10,101 people, some from the UK to support Crolla, invaded the arena with palpable energy as the fighters entered the ring and were introduced. Many wanted to see Lomachenko up close, to witness something big. They were not disappointed.
The first round was fairly even, with fighters using most of the time to measure distance and feel each other. Crolla (34-7-3, 13 KO) seemed to have belonged to the ring with Lomachenko for at least three minutes.
Then came a completely different second round. Lomachenko quickly understood how to get to Crolla and went into gear to take advantage of his revelation, hitting hard shots from all angles, quickly following each other on the head and body of a sudden challenger under the shock.
It got worse in the third. Towards the end of the round, Crolla leaning against the ropes, Lomachenko shot a burst of precise shots that seemed to go very fast, as if a machine and not a man was throwing them. Referee Jack Reiss jumped to the end of the barrage and ordered a technical reversal, the ropes preventing Crollas from falling.
This caused some confusion. Lomachenko and his team thought that Reiss had stopped the fight and started celebrating. Two of his coaches actually entered the ring to learn that the fight was not over.
Of course, they did not have to wait long to finish. Lomachenko pounded Crolla as he had done during the previous two rounds when a right hook behind the ear sent the challenger to the canvas face first. He had no chance to continue, which caused Reiss to quit the fight and give Lomachenko another victory. The official finish came 58 seconds from the fourth lap.
Crolla could not say more than rent Lomachenko.
"My pride is more painful than my body because I wanted to do my best, but it is simply phenomenal," he said immediately after. "I knew where I was when the shot hit me on the head, but I just could not get up. I wanted to go out on my shield but the shot caught me high and stole 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. "
What will Lomachenko do next?
He wants to face his 135-pound WBC champion and champion, Mikey Garcia, in a title fight. However, after Garcia has worn up to 147 pounds to deal with Errol Spence, he might decide that it would be too difficult to return to light weight.
And, again, there is the possibility of a fight for title unification with Commey, provided he is in good health.
"I want to fight against Mikey Garcia, but we'll see. I do not know, "said Lomachenko. "I'm staying at 135 as long as possible and I want to unify all the titles."
No one would be surprised what Lomachenko is doing.