Lots of talk, time to fight
By John J. Raspanti
A few months ago, Teofimo Lopez called Vasiliy Lomachenko “a little diva.”
Divas are usually overrated singers and bratty actors. And perhaps some writers.
The term doesn’t appear to fit Lomachenko. He’s usually referred to as the ultimate professional, and a nice guy. His boxing talent is supreme.
Lomachenko captured the International featherweight title in his professional debut. After a setback to a physical Orlando Salido in his second fight, he bounced back - handing ultra-quick and talented Gary Russell Jr. his first loss in a rousing a 12 rounder. I was in Carson, CA to witness the bout. Another loss could have been disastrous.
Didn’t happen. Lomachenko took over in the later rounds, winning the match by unanimous decision. No complaints from Russell’s camp. In 2016, Lomachenko picked up his second title belt by knocking out Roman Martinez.
Not bad for a diva.
Perhaps his most impressive victory was five months later when he dominated dangerous Nicholas Walters. Nicknamed “The Ax Man” which conjures up monstrous images, Lomachenko dulled Walters ax with ease.
Walters hasn’t fought since.
A little over two years ago, in perhaps his toughest fight, Lomachenko moved up in weight to challenge WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares. Though dropped for the first time in his career, Lomachenko stopped Linares with a bodyshot in round 10. An injury, and three victories later, Lomachenko,32, has quietly prepared for his showdown with Lopez.
Lopez,23, is extremely talented. He captured the IBF title last December by explosively knocking out Richard Commey. A check hook in round two caused Commey to wobble. Seconds later Lopez dipped and ripped a right hand. The blow landed flush on Commey’s chin. The soon to be ex lightweight champion crumbled. Lopez fired punch after punch until the referee waved the destruction off. Lopez was the new IBF lightweight champion.
Lomachenko was ringside to witness it. He smiled while Lopez sneered. Great promotion. Lopez, a nice kid out of the spotlight, has loaded his verbiage with trash while Lomachenko has been more generic.
Until last week.
Asked about Lopez’s taunts, Lomachenko went off script.
“Back home, if you said something or insult somebody, you can get hit and get into a fistfight right in the street and nothing is going to happen,” Lomachenko said during a Zoom media call. “Here in the States, it’s a completely different law. Back home, people don’t run their mouth like this because they know they’ll have to answer for it somehow,” said Lomachenko during a Zoom media call.
Oh boy. Lomachenko is on a mission to make Lopez, and his dad for that matter, pay.
Lopez is just as determined. He has two distinct advantages over Lomachenko. Size and age. He’s the bigger man for sure, so much so that Lomachenko recently commented on the size of Lopez’s biceps.
Lomachenko can counter those advantages with boxing smarts and guile.
Let the countdown begin.