The Pound for Pound Debate: Vasiliy Lomachenko (Part VI)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Mon, 16 Sep 2019
Author's Note: In the last installment, it was discussed that the boxing media in the US, chiefly the Ring Magazine decided to designate Roman Gonzales as new pound for pound king following the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, Jr and the forced long medical leave of absence of Manny Pacquiao to undergo surgery and rehabilitation of his injured right shoulder by second half of 2015. Gonzales reigned as such from late 2015 through 2016. The title was passed to Andre Ward by first quarter of 2017 when Gonzales lost back to back title bouts to Srisaket Sor Rungvusai. Ward on the other hand notched back to back wins over Sergei Kovalev to grab and firm his hold of the lighy heavyweight crown following his domination of the super middleweight division the years before. But before the year was over, Ward himself also retired from boxing. The Ring chose Ukrainian sensation Vasily Lomachenko as new top pfp fighter in 2018, the distinction he holds till to date.
QUESTIONS, ISSUES AND CONTROVERSIES
The rise and continued reign of Vasily Lomachenko have been not without questions, issues and controversies.
First of all, his getting to the top of the pound for pound totem pole was more by fiat as he was rated number two at the time of Ward's retirement. He was deemed as the logical choice over such fighters as Gennady Golovkin, then still undefeated and had been holder of 3/4 of the middleweight titles for years and Canelo Alvarez, Golovkin's main rival, unbeaten Terrence Crawford and then still untouchable Mikey Garcia despite their comparative longevity and proven track record.
Lomachenko's credentials have been regarded generally as still too lean and shallow despite his phenomenal accomplishments of winning his first world title at featherweight in officially only his third fight as a pro and annexing his second world crown by his seventh outing, with barely a dozen bouts under his belt.
Lomachenko loses to Salido.
The Ukrainian also has been wanting in big, elite names in his fight resume with only Orlando Salido, Gary Russell, Nicholas Walters and Rocky Martinez as most prominent at that time. Granted that his only loss - to Salido- was controversial, still he struggled against a man who has been more ably handled and beaten before by such fighters as Juan Manuel Marquez and Mickey Garcia, among others.
Loma has since raised his profile somewhat with his victory over then still unbeaten Guillermo Rigondeaux ---but Rigo has not fought above 122 lbs before and ever---in his last defense at 130.
Moving up to 135 lbs., he then followed it up with series over Venezuelan Jorge Linares for the WBA lightweight title, his third world division title, Puerto Rican Jose Pedraza for the WBO lightweight title and recently Briton Luke Campbell for the WBC title vacated by Mikey Garcia (who is now fighting at higher weight). He has also beaten another Briton Anthony Crolla in a title defense.
He is now aiming to fight the winner of the Richard Commey-Teofimo Lopez IBF title bout for the remaining lightweight.
Lomachenko drops Linares.
Lomachenko has essentially built his legend at lightweight around the first man he beat for a world division title, Jorge Linares who had been perceived, rightly or wrongly as a very worthy fighter and champion. Loma's last two highly hyped bouts have been against past Linares victims namely Crolla and Campbell.
There is little question that Loma is capable of being the first fighter to unify all the lightweight belts which would be historic as the last undisputed world champion in the division was Roberto Duran at the time when there was only the WBA and WBC.
But then again will that be reason enough for him to be truly deserving of his being pound for pound king? Note that Ward had done that earlier at 168 lbs and against better opposition as Michael Kessler and Carl Froch yet he still paled in comparison with Pacquiao and Mayweather back then.
Furthermore, one would be hard pressed to find among his past and recent victims who could be classified as truly elite and future all of fame material with perhaps the exception of Russell, Rigondeaux and Salido who are even borderline cases from my point of view.
Another issue hounding Lomachenko is his reluctance to continue finding his level by fighting above 135. He and his camp have been saying that he has reached his maximum and optimum at that weight. This is not apparent in his consistently coming to the fight well over the lightweight limit after the official weigh in even as early when he was still fighting at featherweight.
Loma and his camp have been insisting that if any interested fighters above the lightweight such as Mikey Garcia and Manny Pacquiao want a clash they will have to go down to his weight class.
That has never been the case with previous pound for pound kings from way back until recently especially Manny who has scaled the weight from 108 through 154 before settling down at 147.
Cashiered pound for pound best fighter Manny Pacquiao is still very much around despite exaggerated claims in the US media particularly in the Ring that he was all but washed.
Pacquiao made a lot of these critics and bashers eat their words by staging yet another stirring comeback by winning the WBA regular welterweight belt via knockout over erstwhile highly touted Argentine KO artist Lucas Matthysse in July 2018.
Pacquiao makes a stirring comeback by knockout out Matthysse.
He followed it up in January this year with a dominating unanimous decision victory over Adrien Broner, another American multi division former world titlist who at one point was considered as Mayweather heir apparent and once rated at pfp top five.
And last July, Pacquiao made a strong case another Fighter of the Year and possibly Fighter of the Decade awards with a sensational points decision victory over erstwhile unbeaten American Keith One Time Thurman.
Not only Pacquiao grabbed the WBA welterweight super title to add to his previous stints as WBO champion, he also beat the man who was regarded as having the best resume among then world champions in the division.
Pacquiao drops Thurman.
Because of that scintillating comeback, the Ring was recently forced to follow the leads of Boxrec.com and TransNational Rating and reinstated Manny in its pound for pound list, but at tenth and the bottom of its top ten pound for pound fighters list still topped by Vasiliy Lomachenko.
On a sad note, to make way for Pacquiao, the Ring booted out another Filipino fighter Donnie Ahas Nietes who had been on its list for years, citing Nietes inactivity as reason.
A relatively still unproven Lomachenko at first and a time tested Pacquiao at tenth and last.
And the Ring have been claiming for decades as the bible of boxing?
What is your take on this?
Previous articles in this series:
Part I: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part II: Origins, Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part III: Questions, Issues and Controversies
Part IV: Fight of the Century
The Interregnum (Part V)
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone 09215309477.
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