With only eight professional fights on his resume, Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko has already collected alphabet-soup titles in two divisions. He appears on most pound-for-pound lists. I cannot remember anytime during the gloved era that a fighter has achieved this level of regard, this quickly.
Lomachenko is arguably the greatest amateur fighter who ever lived. He won two Olympic gold medals and compiled a stagger record of 396-1. In just his second professional bout, he challenged WBO featherweight standard-bearer Orlando Salido.
There probably couldn’t have been a tougher opponent chosen for a fighter’s second pro bout. Whereas Lomachenko developed his craft on the highly respected, amateur international scene, Salido developed his game as a teenager fighting in the rough-and-tumble club scenes in Sonora and Baja California. In his first 20 pro bouts, he went 11-7-2. From there, he developed into a world-class contender.
Salido did not even try to make weight for his defense against Lomachenko, trading his WBO trinket for a huge weight advantage come fight night. He used every veteran tactic in the book, “veteran tactic” being a euphemism for fouling. He shoulder bumped Lomachenko in the clinch, laced his eyes and hit him below the belt countless times, all while building a lead on the cards.
But Lomachenko did not fold. Instead, he adjusted his tactics and took control of the last part of the fight, even winning one of the judges’ three cards. He had suffered a loss but the education he received went to good use.
Lomachenko has looked nothing short of brilliant since. Sosa is an interesting opponent for him, but I would be shocked if he gives Lomachenko anything like a competitive bout. Sosa drew with Nicholas Walters in December 2015. It was a disgraceful decision by the judges. I watched the Sosa-Walters fight from the press section, where not a writer had it scored closer than 8-2 for Walters.
Lomachenko battered Walters last year, before getting him to quit out of utter frustration. Sosa is a hard-nosed fighter. I don’t expect him to quit. But I also don’t expect him to look like he belongs in the ring with Lomo.
The Ukrainian star will likely need to move up in weight to find a truly compelling challenge. I’d love to see him matched against Mikey Garcia, Terence Crawford or Manny Pacquiao.