He’s the single most unbeatable boxer in the world, even if he has a loss among his 14 pro fights and was decked just three fights ago.
Vasiliy Lomachenko is so talented, still capable of getting so much better, he could reign nearly as long as he wants over the current crop of lightweights.
On Saturday at the O2 Arena in London, Lomachenko will fight Luke Campbell, who like him won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The tale of the tape says that Campbell has a two-inch height advantage, though the eye test suggests it is more than that. But it would be a shock if the fight ended any other way than with the referee pulling Lomachenko away from a bloodied, half-conscious Campbell.
Lomachenko tops most pound-for-pound lists, though he is third in Yahoo Sports’ estimation behind unbeaten welterweight champions Terence Crawford and Errol Spence. ESPN, Boxing Monthly and The Ring each have Lomachenko rated No. 1 and Crawford No. 2. CBS Sports has Lomachenko No. 1 and Canelo Alvarez No. 2, while World Boxing News ranks Alvarez first and Lomachenko second.
There are mega-fights out there for nearly every person who is in the consensus pound-for-pound Top 10. Spence vs. Crawford tops that list, but Alvarez has huge fights he could take against Gennadiy Golovkin and Sergiy Kovalev.
There is no fight on the horizon for Lomachenko where it looks as if he’ll lose. Campbell is a more than competent professional and his height, reach advantage (5 ½ inches) and southpaw stance could prove tricky for Lomachenko, who holds the WBA and WBO lightweight belts. Campbell promoter Eddie Hearn said in July that Campbell is the greatest amateur the United Kingdom has ever produced.
But for all of Campbell’s positive attributes, Lomachenko is a minus-2000 favorite at Sportsbook USA. And while Hearn’s contention that Campbell is the greatest amateur boxer in U.K. history is debatable, Lomachenko is widely regarded as one of the top amateurs in boxing history, period, regardless of country. He went 396-1 as an amateur and won two Olympic gold medals.
There was hope that Teofimo Lopez could develop into a legitimate challenger for Lomachenko, though he hasn’t looked great in his last two outings and family strife seems to have stalled his progress.
The most significant fight for Lomachenko would probably be against Manny Pacquiao, who said in July before he fought Keith Thurman that he could move down to lightweight if he wanted, but has shown no inclination to do so. Given the lucrative potential bouts at welterweight, where he’s campaigned for most of the past decade, it’s unlikely Pacquiao would feel the need to drop to 135 to face Lomachenko.
So that leaves Lomachenko to preside over a group with no legitimate challenger. Former WBA super middleweight champion George Groves would differ with that point. He trained alongside Campbell and believes he can pull the upset.
“He’s one of the best fighters we’ve produced,” Groves said. “... He’s got the opportunity to fight the pound-for-pound No. 1 and if anyone can beat him, it is Luke Campbell. He’s not here to make up the numbers and to give the British fans the opportunity to see a great fighter. ... This is a huge occasion and a must-see fight.”
There doesn’t seem to be one area other than height and reach in which Campbell has a distinct edge. Lomachenko is quicker, is a more accurate puncher, has better footwork and hits harder.
In his second pro fight he showed vulnerability to pressure, when veteran Orlando Salido swarmed him and took a controversial decision. But it’s notable that no one has been able to successfully pressure him since, and his ability to create punching angles is the stuff of legend.
The biggest thing Lomachenko has going for him is his attitude. He’s not one to get caught up in the hype and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
He’s smart enough to understand the need to be ready when the bell rings, and he won’t get caught looking past Campbell.
“He is tall, he has a big reach, he is a smart boxer and has a high boxing IQ,” Lomachenko said of Campbell. “He also has lots of amateur experience so maybe for me it will be a big challenge. I never think about being unbeatable; I just do my job and train hard. When I come in the ring, I believe I will win.”
He’s probably going to keep doing that until he decides to walk away, or until the likes of Lopez or Devin Haney takes a quantum leap forward.
Until then, get used to Lomachenko having his hand raised with a broad grin on his face while his weary opponents are being tended to by a medical crew.
No one in the game is more unbeatable at this point than Lomachenko.
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