Few fighters in boxing history have risen as quickly as WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko. The Ukrainian sensation won a pair of Olympic gold medals and compiled an astonishing amateur record of 396-1. Just eight fights into his professional career, he has already collected championship belts in two divisions and earned aclaim as a top-10, pound-for-pound talent. You will rarely talk to a boxing fan or writer who does not expect him to become one of the elite talents of the next five to 10 years.
On April 8, he will return to action, against Jason Sosa. Sosa is the exact opposite of a high-profile blue chipper like Lomachenko. The New Jersey native is a hard-nosed scrapper who developed into a contender with little fanfare. He currently holds the WBA “regular” title at 130 pounds.
As I never hesitate to point out, WBA “regular” world titles are as legitimate as the $100 bills that come with a game of Monopoly. Jezreel Corrales is the WBA champion at 130 pounds–he won the belt last year from long-time champion Takashi Uchiyama and successfully defended it in the rematch. The WBA can call him a “super” champion if they want, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t laugh at them when they appoint a second, “regular” champion.
However, Corrales turned down a unification fight with Lomachenko. Sosa, on the other hand, was game for it.
It is very tough for me to get excited for this bout, though. In his last fight, Lomachenko battered and frustrated Nicolas Walters so badly that they previously unbeaten “Axe Man” quit on his stool between rounds.
In December 2015, Sosa fought to a draw with Walters. And the decision was a travesty. I watched this bout from ringside. After the absurd scores were read, HBO’s Max Kellerman turned to the press section and signed “10-0” as his score, for Walters. I had it the same. The closest any of the writers sitting near me had it was 8-2 for Walters.
Still, Lomachenko needs to stay busy and Sosa is a tough, read-to-rumble fighter. He deserves respect for being willing to show up.
As for Lomachenko, he will likely need to move to lightweight before he will find another star willing to take him on.