Vasiliy Lomachenko succumbs to boxing’s cruel destiny

Jack Rathborn
·3-min read
Lomachenko was outpointed by Lopez  (Getty)
Lomachenko was outpointed by Lopez (Getty)

As boxing celebrated its new lightweight king Teofimo Lopez, there was a tinge of sadness as Vasiliy Lomachenko sloped away, unable to swerve one of boxing’s inevitabilities.

The irony being the mercurial Ukrainian’s craft was built around his elusiveness, but a dazed Loma, following 12 intense rounds, succumbed to father time. Lopez, a hungry, young champion, produced an arsenal too large for Loma to process in the first half of the fight, complimenting speed and a crisp jab with slashing bodywork.

It prevented his illustrious opponent from memorising the patterns, as has been customary throughout his glittering career either side of turning professional.

Ailed by a nagging shoulder problem, which has now been rectified with further surgery, coming into the contest and exacerbated in the second round, the 32-year-old’s fate last weekend demonstrated how brutal this sport can really be.

The mystique of Floyd Mayweather, a glint in his eyes each time he emerges on our screens since retiring undefeated, shows just how unforgiving the sweet science is and how rare the American’s journey was.

The difficulty in emerging unblemished from this sport is therefore vividly demonstrated when such an exceptionally gifted fighter in Lomachenko is forced to swallow a defeat of this kind. His body proved unable to brush off an injury after 412 total fights as both an amateur and professional, while the global pandemic delayed this contest, providing perfect timing for the American to swoop in and dethrone him.

Undoubtedly Covid-19 contributed yet further too, as without fans, there was no electrifying atmosphere at Madison Square Garden to unsettle a 23-year-old experiencing his first superfight.

All of this combined to leave a second blemish on Lomachenko’s record beyond the frustrating loss to a dirty Orlando Salido in the infancy of his professional foray.

But the beauty of this familiar narrative in boxing is that when one story fades, another blossoms, with Lopez only just beginning what he has promised all along: The Takeover.

Among numerous options as the man at 135 pounds, there is also the tantalising prospect of facing the winner of Josh Taylor vs Jose Ramirez in their light welterweight unification fight. Conquering another division is therefore on a plate, given the Bob Arum’s vested interest with all three attached to Top Rank.

There is no shame in the manner of Loma’s defeat, having routinely danced with danger by embracing challenges at perhaps two divisions above his ideal weight, such were the terms to capture the rewards and legacy he craved.

But if ever there was a reminder of boxing’s destiny for almost everybody who gambles with their health by stepping through the ropes, it was Loma on Saturday. Loma was left stinging that much more with Lopez squashing any talk of a rematch.

As such, this could prove to be the beginning of the end with yet another legendary fighter unable to walk away from this most brutal of sports unscathed.