Saturday night in Madison Square Garden Vasyl Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in Round 10 to capture the WBA lightweight belt. It made the Ukrainian superstar a three-division alphabet-soup champion in just his 12th professional bout.
Anybody who is at all familiar with this column knows I don’t necessarily put a lot of weight in alphabet soup belts. Regardless, to collect three of them so quickly is a remarkable achievement. And Lomo beat top fighters every step of the way to collect them. At featherweight he edged the sensational Gary Russell Jr. At 130 pounds he beat veteran super featherweight mainstay Roman Martinez. Linares was widely regarded as the top lightweight on the planet.
It was not an easy night work for Lomachenko by any stretch. He had to climb off the canvas in Round 6 and at the time of the stoppage the scorecards were razor close–one for Lomachenko, one for Linares and one even. Lomo demonstrated that beyond his matrix-like footwork and combination punching, he has true grit and heart.
Lomachenko is scheduled to return to action in August, with the opponent yet to be named. At this point, only one man would make a truly compelling opponent for him: Mikey Garcia.
Like Lomachenko, Garcia is an undefeated, pound-for-pound contender. He has also collected belts and knocked off top contenders at featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight. Over the past year, he has added a pair of impressive 140-pound scalps to his resume, as well, handily beating Adrien Broner in July of last year and Sergey Lipinets last March.
Lomachenko vs. Garcia is one of the best possible matchups in the sport right now. It is also exactly the sort of fight that both men need–a showdown with a fellow superstar, with historical greatness up for grabs.