Vasil Lomachenko (14-1, 10 co), one of the best amateur boxers of all time, quickly made his claim to be one of the best P4B fighters on the paid teams. He demanded belts in featherweight and super featherweight and is now on track to merge the lightweight division. Standing in his way was one of the brightest prospects in boxing, with 23-year-old Theofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) capturing the IPF title with the destruction of Richard Cami in his last fight.
Lomasenko returned pro after winning his second Olympic gold medal at the London Games. He battled for a title in his second fight, a defeat to Orlando Salido, and won a belt in his third match against Gary Russell Jr., which equaled Sansak Mwangsur’s record for the shortest run to a championship in history. Lomasenko then dominated all the way up to the lightweight, picking up some interesting scalps along the way, especially Nicholas Walters, Guillermo Ricondieux and George Linares.
Lopez was also an Olympian, representing Honduras at the Rio Olympics, where he lost to silver medalist Sofian Omiha. He returned to the pro following the Games and soon emerged as one of the best prospects of the 2016 Olympic class – and had the best chance during the boxing season.
Lomachenko is a martial genius, an excellent defender in football, head movement and becoming almost untouchable in the ring. His defense is used for precise body-head combinations or to highlight his right side and to take an external angle on hereditary opponents. Lomachenko’s ability to make his defense flow unimpeded as a crime associated with his security manipulation makes it a nightmare for him to fight back because four of his opponents are resting in the feces.
Lopez is a devastating puncher with very quick hands. He uses a shoulder roll protection to set up the counters, mainly an excellent right overhead, and prefers the right hand pull counter. Both the right straight and the upward usually follow the devastating left hook. After confronting his opponent a few times and tasting his power, he showed a tendency to try to force the KO a little, but it was resisted, it did not pose much risk, I like it please the crowd and I suspect that Tiffimo is smart enough not to try to force the issue against the elite.
It’s hard to imagine a scene where Lopez wins a decision without seriously injuring Lomasenko at one point, but I don’t believe there is anyone lightweight with a great shot to manage it. He has already announced a future move of up to 140 pounds, will be bigger than the Ukrainian, will hit harder and may be a little faster. For that he can not only trust the counters, and the key to him will be the body. Lomasenko’s layered defense is too hard to hit him clean in the head, but his body is a relatively easy target and Lopez can find his right straight. The initial rounds will be very frustrating for Lopez, but he must use them to save Loma’s energy as much as possible, and increase his chances of catching any big things later in the fight and turning his power margin into a factor.
While there is a path to success for Lopez, it is best for anyone who is lightweight or less, Lomasenko is a -400 favorite for a reason. Lopez believes Lopez can push, and he has every reason to think he can, but at the end of the day I expect the Ukrainian adult to outbox him and raise his hand again on Saturday.
Whether Lomachenko continues his dominance, adds another belt to his collection, or Lopez makes a star sad, it’s a great match, it’s the best combat box to deliver against its bright and upcoming star, and no one is far from missing the sweet science.