For only the second time in his career, Vasyl Lomachenko looked vulnerable last Saturday night in beating Jorge Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) by a 10th round knockout to claim the WBA World lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Lomachenko was hit early and often by the 32-year-old Linares, and knocked down in the 6th. This was not the normal dominating performance from Lomachenko, even though he eventually scored a knockout in the 10th round from a body shot.
Lomachenko’s performance already has Mikey Garcia saying he wants to fight him. He’s really the only one worth fighting at lightweight. The rest of the guys are non-stars that won’t attract even slight amount of interest from the boxing public. If Top Rank is going to drag out the Garcia fight for as long as possible, which it appears that’s what they’re going to do, it’s going to hurt Lomachenko, because he needs Mikey to help increase his popularity.
Lomachenko is not going to get to the next level fighting the likes of Ray Beltran for his WBO lightweight title. That’s a fight that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is already mentioning that he wants for Lomachenko. That’s a nothing fight, and easily the worst match-up for Lomachenko since Arum put him in with Miguel Marriaga last year. No one cared about that fight, and Lomachenko most of the time showboating and looking bad.
Showboating only works when you’re facing a good opponent. When face a hopefully over-matched guy like Marriaga, it makes you look bad if you taunt the guy and try make him look bad. That’s what Lomachenko and it backfired on him, because the boxing fans at ringside were not cheering his antics.
Before the Linares fight, Lomachenko had scared off a lot of fighters from showing interest in facing him with the way that he’d been beating everyone he faced in such a commanding way. Lomachenko’s last 4 opponents had quit on him leading up to the Linares fight, and there were some felt that this streak was going to continue. Linares had no quit on him. He stayed in there, hitting Lomachenko with his best shots round after round until the bitter end in the 10th. It was a good thing that Lomachenko knocked Linares out with a hard left to the body, because the outcome was still very much in doubt at the time.
“After the fight, I told [Top Rank vice president of boxing operations] Carl Moretti in the ring, ‘It’s going to be much easier for you to get opponents for me because they all see I’m also a human being,'” Lomachenko said. “What I did was make my promoter’s job easier.”
Well, it would be easier for Top Rank to get opponents for Lomachenko if they offered more money to them. Money is the key. If they want Lomachenko to fight the best, then they need to offer their opponents lots of money. I also helps if they make the fights when they have a chance to. That means don’t walk away from the Mikey Garcia fight just because the negotiations are a bit difficult.
Lomachenko still hasn’t become The Ring’s #1 pound-for-pound king. One reason for that is the lack of a signature win in his career, and the fact that uses a pitty-pat punching technique that isn’t always exciting to watch. In contrast, the current No.1 pound-for-pound king Gennady Golovkin fights in an exciting style at all times, loading up on shots and going for fight-ending knockouts. Golovkin doesn’t showboat like Lomachenko. GGG doesn’t try to humiliate his over-matched opponents the way Lomachenko does. Golovkin doesn’t want to embarrass them and make them look bad in front of the boxing fans.
Here’s The Ring’s current pound-for-pound top 10:
1. Gennady Golovkin
2. Terence Crawford
3. Vasyl Lomachenko
4. Saul Canelo Alvarez
5. Mikey Garcia
6. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
7. Naoya Inoue
8. Errol Spence Jr.
9. Sergey Kovalev
10. Guillermo Rigondeaux
If Lomachenko were to beat Mikey Garcia, it would help raise him up to No.1 in the pound for pound list, but fighting the likes of Ray Beltran isn’t going to do much. If Lomachenko has any say so in the match-making that’s being done for him by his promoters at Top Rank, he should reject the idea of him being matched against Beltran. That’s a dumb fight. That fight arguably does more for Top Rank and Beltran than it does for Lomachenko, because it doesn’t increase his popularity in him facing an aging paper champion with no fan base. Lomachenlo needs to be matched up against the best if he wants to become a PPV star.
“I’m always interested in unifying the titles,” Lomachenko said. “That’s why I came to this weight class, and I will be looking to unify the titles in the future.”
If Lomachenko is serious about wanting to unify the titles, then he’s going to be assertive with his promoters at Top Rank to make sure that he’s being put in unification fights that actually count for something instead of the ones that are a complete waste of time like the Beltran fight. Lomachenko would be better moving up to light welterweight or moving back down to super featherweight to dig up more important fights that the boxing public would like to see him in. It doesn’t help Lomachenko that his promoter Bob Arum is already sounding negative about negotiating a fight against Mikey Garcia. Arum doesn’t seem to be too optimistic that the Lomachenko vs. Garcia fight can get made in 2018.
“The negotiations will go on and I may be 90 years old when the negotiations are finished,”said Arum to Fighthub. “I’m tired of that.”
That sounds like Arum wants Mikey to quickly negotiate the fight with Lomachenko, and if he doesn’t, then there might not be a fight. That hurts Lomachenko, because without Mikey Garcia, he’s stuck fighting the likes of Beltran over and over again. Hopefully, Arum doesn’t have Lomachenko doing rematches like he’s done with Manny Pacquiao. The fans aren’t going to want to watch Lomachenko fight Beltran 3 or 4 times and Linares 3 times.
It’s better for Lomachenko to be constantly moving forward. Arum is talking about wanting to make Lomachenko vs. Beltran on PPV. I think that’s a terribly bad idea. You’ve got a fighter in Lomachenko who still hasn’t built a large fan base in the U.S, and you’re going to stick him on PPV against a guy that a lot of boxing fans wouldn’t want to see even he were on free television. It’s a wrong-headed idea on Arum’s part.