Vasyl Lomachenko makes his case for No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter

AP Photo

Vasyl Lomachenko celebrates after defending his super featherweight title with a 7th-round TKO of Nicholas Walters on Saturday in Las Vegas/Associated Press photo by John Locher

 

Making a fighter like Nicholas Walters quit is ultra-impressive. That’s what Vasyl Lomachenko did Saturday when Walters did not answer the bell for the eighth round of their super featherweight title fight at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Did Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) make his case for best pound-for-pound fighter in the world? Perhaps. The two-division champion wants that recognition.

“I had my plan,” said Lomachenko, of Ukraine. “I knew it would take four rounds and then I went to work on him. Walters said he would do this and that he would do that throughout training camp, and in the end, he just quit.  I would like to fight (fellow super featherweight champion) Francisco Vargas next.  My goal is to be the No. 1 pound for pound fighter.”

Prior to the fight, The Ring had Lomachenko No. 7 in its pound-for-pound rankings. With his tremendous performance Saturday, it figures he’ll move up. Heck, it would be difficult to say any other fighter should be ranked ahead of him.

 

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Vasyl Lomachenko realizes what he’s up against in Nicholas Walters

Vasyl Lomachenko, left, of Ukraine, punches Roman Martinez, of Puerto Rico, during the fourth round of a WBO junior lightweight title boxing match Saturday, June 11, 2016, in New York. Lomachenko stopped Martinez in the fifth round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Vasyl Lomachenko, left, lands a punch to the head of Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez during the fourth round of their super featherweight title fight in June at Madison Square Garden. Lomachenko won via 5th-round TKO/Associated Press photo by Frank Franklin II

 

As good as Vasyl Lomachenko is, as much as his promoter Bob Arum touts him as the greatest he’s seen since a young Muhammad Ali, Lomachenko knows he is in for a real nasty time of it Saturday when he defends his super featherweight belt against hard-hitting Nicholas Walters. The two will square off at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (on HBO).

“This is a very important bout for me because many boxing experts and many people in boxing rank Walters as the highest-rated fighter in our division,” Lomachenko said. “He is a very hard puncher and a very good boxer and for me it’s a very important thing to me to fight the best and it’s very important for me because everyone says he is a very good fighter.”

As for the Ali comparison, here’s what Arum told reporters during a conference call: “I would like to say this; that Vasyl Lomachenko is technically the best fighter that I have seen since the early Muhammad Ali. There is nobody that I have seen, and there have been a lot of great technical fighters that I have seen – Alexis Arguello was one, Floyd Mayweather certainly, Manny Pacquiao – but there has been nobody with the skills that Vasyl Lomachenko has.”

Lomachenko, of Ukraine, is 6-1 with four knockouts. The two-time Olympic gold-medal winner has also held a major world title in the featherweight division.

Walters, of Jamaica, is 26-0-1 with 21 knockouts.

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Bob Arum: If Vasyl Lomachenko beats Nicholas Walters, he should be candidate for Fighter of the Year

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo: TV Fight Time, Date and Live Stream

Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his title Saturday against Nicholas Walters in Las Vegas/Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images

 

Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) of Ukraine on Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas will put his super featherweight world title on the  line against Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs), a mean, hard-hitting hombre from Jamaica.

Not only does this fight have tremendous potential for great excitement, it could be absolutely vicious.

Promoter Bob Arum explained the reasoning during a conference call Monday.

“Well, they call Walters the ‘Axe Man’ for a reason,” Arum said. “I mean, he searches and destroys, you know, he’s a tremendous puncher. And he’s in with a technician who has enormous ability in boxing not only defensively, but offensively. So I mean, this is a
can’t miss fight and I want people to realize that not only do I believe that it will be a Fight of the Year candidate, I believe that if Vasyl Lomachenko is successful, he should be right up there in the consideration for Fighter of the Year.”

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Virgil Hunter believes mental toughness will make Kovalev-Ward ‘a great fight’

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

It’s possible Saturday’s light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev of Russia and Andre Ward of Oakland at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas could be a terrific fight. It could be the opposite if Ward looks to box all 12 rounds in crafty mode, frustrating Kovalev and fans alike.

During a sit-down with the respective trainers Wednesday, Virgil Hunter – Ward’s trainer – told reporters one reason why he believes this bout will be worth every cent fans spend.

“Do I believe that Ward will exhibit mental toughness? Yes, without a doubt,” Hunter said. “Do I believe that Kovalev will exhibit it? I’m sure he will as well. And that’s the making of a great fight.”

Ward is 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Their bout – and three others – will be available on HBO pay-per-view.

 

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Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker looking to make like Aaron ‘The Hawk’ Pryor

Maurice Hooker/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation Sports

 

Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker is another in a long line of fighters hopeful of becoming recognizable figures in the boxing world. Hooker will have a tremendous chance to do that Saturday when he takes on former interim lightweight champion Darleys Perez in the junior welterweight semi-main event Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

They will tangle underneath the light heavyweight title fight between champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward (on HBO pay-per-view).

Hooker, of Dallas, is 21-0-2 with 16 knockouts. He has a solid knockout ratio of 70 percent. It sounds like his idol is Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor (39-1, 35 KOs), the late Hall of Fame junior welterweight champion whose knockout ratio was an amazing 88 percent.

“Aaron Pryor is one of the best,” Hooker said. “He brought a lot of knockouts. He was a great fighter whom a lot of people dodged. Like him, I’m coming into this fight with people dodging me. They are afraid because they don’t know what I can do. This fight means a lot … an opportunity to show them who I am. I am going to bring the knockout just like ‘The Hawk’ would.”

Hooker actually put his intentions regarding Perez into more, well, colorful words.

“My prediction for Saturday is a knockout,” he said. “I love knockouts. I am always going for the knockout. With every punch that I throw, even the jab, I am going to try to take Darleys Perez’s head off.”

Hooker, 27, is ranked as high as No. 9 in the world by one organization.

Perez, 33, is from Colombia. He is 33-2-1 with 21 knockouts.

 

 

 

 

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Andre Ward says focus in training always the same, regardless of opponent

Andre Ward/Photo courtesy of Roc Nation

 

If you have followed the career of Andre Ward, it’s easy to tell how well prepared he has been for all of his fights. That, he says, is because even though the fighters are different, his level of concentrations is the same.

“Regardless of who I’m fighting — (Sullivan) Barrera, (Alexander) Brand, (Sergey) Kovalev, whoever — there’s always different game plans and nuances when it comes to preparation and training,” said Ward, who Nov. 19 will challenge Kovalev for his light heavyweight belts at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). “The reality of it is, every fight is a must-win for me. I prepare for each fight as if I’m facing the most difficult opponent of my career. That’s always been my approach, and I think you’re playing with fire if you don’t adopt that mentality in this sport.

“I know this is a big fight, the biggest of my career. But my mindset and my focus have been consistent no matter the opponent, and that’s an invaluable asset.”

Ward, 32, is from Oakland. He’s 30-0 with 15 knockouts. Kovalev, 33, is from Russia. He’s 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts.

 

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John Molina Jr. of Covina to challenge Terence Crawford for titles on Dec. 10

John Molina Jr.

John Molina Jr./Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

 

John Molina Jr. of Covina will get his second chance to win a major world title when he challenges Terence Crawford for his two junior welterweight belts Dec. 10 at CenturyLink Center in Crawford’s native Omaha, Neb. (on HBO).

Molina (29-6, 23 KOs), a gradaute of Charter Oak High, challenged Antonio DeMarco of Tijuana for his lightweight title in September 2012, but was stopped in the first round at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Crawford (29-0, 20 KOs) is coming off a wide decision over Viktor Postol in a title-unification bout in July at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

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Bob Arum can envision Manny Pacquiao and Vasyl Lomachenko tangling

Manny Pacquiao/Photo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

 

Manny Pacquiao is a small welterweight. Heck, he wouldn’t even be a big junior welterweight if he were still fighting in that division. It therefore wasn’t shocking to
hear his promoter – Bob Arum – talk about the possibility of Pacquiao at some point taking on super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.

Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) on Nov. 5 will challenge Jessie Vargas for his welterweight belt at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas (on Top Rank pay-per-view, $59.95). Three weeks later – on Nov. 26 – Lomachenko will defend his title against tough Nicholas Walters at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (on HBO).

At the moment, Pacquiao and Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) are fighting at 147 and 130 pounds, respectively. But Lomachenko told yours truly prior to his most recent bout this past June that he could see himself moving up another weight class or two, meaning lightweight (135 pounds) and as high as junior welterweight (140).

“Yeah, 135 to 140,” Arum said. “Manny, he can fight at 135.”

He can still make that weight?

“That’s what he says, sure,” Arum said Wednesday afternoon at Pacquiao’s camp in Hollywood. “I saw him sparring with Ray Beltran yesterday and Beltran’s a lightweight
and Beltran towered over him. He was so much bigger.”

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Sergey Kovalev’s goal is to become top pound-for-pound fighter in the world

Sergey Kovalev Is the Rare, Refreshing Boxing Star Who Doesn't Duck a Challenge

Sergey Kovalev lands a right hand to the head of Bernard Hopkins during their November 2014 fight won by Kovalev/Photo by Associated Press

 

Sergey Kovalev, the vicious light heavyweight champion from Russia, is unquestionably a top pound-for-pound fighter. He’s No. 2 or No. 3, with Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez No. 1 and Gennady Golovkin either No. 2 or No. 3.

Kovalev on Nov. 19 will be defending his belts against Andre Ward at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). Since Ward is a top 5 pound-for-pound fighter, suffice to say that a victory for Kovalev would make his case stronger for being anointed No. 1. He wouldn’t mind that a bit.

“When I was growing up in Russia, I did not hear these words ‘pound- for-pound,’ ” Kovalev said. “Once I learned what this was I knew this was important. I am honored that people think I am the fighter that could get this title. It’s important for me, for my career. I am champion in my division now, but I want to get all the belts and also I would like to be best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.”

Kovalev, 33, is 30-0-1 with 26 knockouts. Ward, 32, is 30-0 with 15 knockouts.

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Bernard Hopkins never considered taking on a weak opponent in final fight

Kovalev dominates Hoplrins

In his most recent fight, Bernard Hopkins (right) was dominated by light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in November 2014/Photo by Associated Press

 

Bernard Hopkins is 51. He’s a living legend and will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

Not one person would have blamed Hopkins if he decided to fight a tomato can for his farewell fight. Hopkins doesn’t roll like that, though. Instead, he’s taking on highly ranked light heavyweight Joe Smith Jr. in his final bout Dec. 17 at the Fabulous Forum (on HBO).

Hopkins and the rest of the interested parties played host to a news conference Monday to formally announce the bout. Hopkins was asked about taking on a guy who in his most recent bout stunned everyone by stopping Andrzej Fonfara in the first round this past June in Chicago, instead of an easy mark.

“That’s not me,” Hopkins said. “And you would look at it as, ‘Bernard wants the easy way out.’ I never want anything easy. And just give me an opportunity and I want to figure it out myself. And I think that is more of the credibility that’s in me even at this age, to understand that’s just me.

“I don’t want nobody to think anything different. Win, lose or draw, this is the final one. I will win and I will win impressively. And I’m in it with a guy that’s going to push me, that’s going to make me fight a young man’s fight in this sport.”

Hopkins, of Philadelphia, is 55-7-2 with 32 knockouts. Smith, 27, of Long Island, N.Y., is 22-1 with 18 knockouts. That’s a knockout ratio of 78 percent. He is ranked as high as No. 2 in the world.

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