BOXING

Lomachenko Masterful, Usyk and Gvozdyk Also Triumphant

Vasyl Lomachenko Outclasses Jason Sosa For Ninth-Round TKO

Jason Sosa was brave enough to face Vasyl Lomachenko. He wasn’t good enough to do much else.

That wasn’t wholly Sosa’s fault. It’s not that Sosa isn’t good — it’s just that Lomachenko is great.

Lomachenko’s speed, technique, intelligence and ring savvy were on display for the better part of nine one-sided rounds. By the time Sosa’s trainer pulled the plug, it was because everyone, including Sosa himself, realized that there was nothing he could do to turn the fight around.

Sosa’s best round was the first, back when Lomachenko was still taking the measure of him. Sosa landed a few in those tactical opening minutes, though nothing of consequence, nothing that could deter what Lomachenko would soon unleash.

Lomachenko can make good fighters feel a way they haven’t felt since they first laced up their gloves. He has absolute control of the ring, thanks to his God-given gifts, a wealth of experience dating back to his acclaimed amateur career, and the ability to use both. He makes it look easier than it should, making his opponents miss, peppering them and demoralizing them.

He brought swelling from around Sosa’s eyes early on. Sosa couldn’t do anything to turn the tide. He mostly absorbed leather. In desperation, Sosa threw a wild right hand in the fifth that missed by miles. It failed to make a difference. It also failed to make Lomachenko wary. Lomachenko just continued to go about his game plan.

If things weren’t already bad enough for Sosa, Lomachenko then began to rub it in with taunting in the sixth. At one point, Lomachenko made Sosa miss and then pretended to be a matador, waving an imaginary cape out at his side. At another point, Sosa missed again and Lomachenko imitated his wide punches. In the eighth, Lomachenko doubled Sosa over with a body shot and then mocked the way Sosa had reacted.

After the round, Sosa’s corner warned him that the end was near, trying to motivate him to pull off a miracle.

“I’m not going to let you get hurt,” his trainer said. “I’m going to do my job. I’m going to give you one more round. If I see nothing, I’m stopping the fight.”

In the ninth, Sosa was 9 of 27, including 9 of 18 with his power shots. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either — it wasn’t anything of consequence, and it was nothing when compared to Lomachenko’s output. Lomachenko had gone 37 of 83 that round, including 27 of 39 with power shots. There was no need to subject Sosa to more of the same.

Lomachenko is now 8-1 with 6 knockouts. He’d won gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, turned pro in late 2013, and challenged Orlando Salido for a featherweight world title in just his second pro fight. Salido came in overweight, got away with countless low blows, and still only triumphed by split decision. Since that lone loss, Lomachenko picked up a world title at 126 with a victory over Gary Russell Jr., defended it three times and then moved up to 130. He knocked out Roman Martinez for a title last year, then made Nicholas Walters quit last fall.

Lomachenko still wants a rematch with Salido, though they’ve not yet been able to come to terms. In the meantime he’s still looking for a challenge, which might soon mean a jump up to lightweight.

Sosa is now 20-2-4 with 15 KOs. This wasn’t a good night for him, but he shouldn’t beat himself up given whom it came against. Sosa deserves a chance to get back in there with other notable fighters in his division.

 Aleksandr Usyk Defends Title With Decision Over 

 

  The fight between Aleksandr Usyk and Michael Hunter featured one cruiserweight who had won gold in the 2012 Olympics and one who wasn’t good enough to earn a medal. Usyk and Hunter hadn’t fought in London, but they met nearly five years later on a card Saturday night just outside of Washington, D.C.   Hunter tried to put up a good fight, but Usyk kicked into a higher gear, took over the action, began to batter Hunter around the ring, and left with a unanimous decision victory.   Hunter’s activity stood out in the first three rounds. Usyk looked to slow him down in the fourth, digging shots to Hunter’s body and landing well from close range. The fast pace that had worked in Hunter’s favor early began to work against him in the fifth. Hunter’s punches seemed to have less snap, and he couldn’t keep up with Usyk, who threw more than 100 shots in the round, including several crisp combinations. Hunter responded with more than 100 punches of his own in the sixth, most of them jabs as he opted to box. Usyk still landing more power shots that round. He then seemed to take the seventh round off, a wise choice that helped him dominate in the eighth.  

 

Hunter was fading, and Usyk was coming on stronger and stronger. Usyk had Hunter reeling in the final minute of the 10th, then beat Hunter from pillar to post in the 12th. (Usyk was 46 of 109 in the 10th, according to CompuBox, including 39 of 61 with power shots, and then he went 52 of 121 in the 12th, including 49 of 90 with power shots). The referee or Hunter’s corner would’ve been well within reason had they stopped the fight at any point during the onslaught.

Instead they — and Hunter’s heart — allowed him to see the final bell. It was a moral victory that came at a considerable cost given the additional punishment. Usyk won 117-110 on all three scorecards — Hunter lost an extra point after being ruled down in the final round when he was knocked backward into the ropes.  
 
Usyk is now 12-0 with 10 KOs. His past three appearances have brought a surprisingly easy title win over Krzysztof Glowacki, a knockout of Thabiso Mchunu and this decision over Hunter, all in the span of seven months. He is clearly one of the best at 200 pounds and wants to assert that against the others atop the rankings. Unification bouts with Mairis Breidis, Murat Gassiev or Denis Lebedev would all be worthy of attention. Hunter, meanwhile, is now 12-1 with 8 KOs. He was coming off a long layoff of nearly 11 months. He will need some time to rest and recover after this defeat.
 

Oleksandr Gvozdyk Impresses, Blasting Yunieski Gonzalez Away In Three

  It didn’t take Oleksandr Gvozdyk very long to establish himself as a true light heavyweight contender. Gvozdyk won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics and turned pro in 2014. Over the past year, he’s stepped up his level of opposition and shown himself to be levels beyond them. That trend continued on Saturday, when he scored an attention-grabbing technical knockout of Yunieski Gonzalez in just three rounds. Gonzalez wasn’t undefeated, but it was nonetheless surprising that he didn’t last longer than nine minutes. He’d lost back-to-back fights in 2015 — the first in a highly controversial unanimous decision defeat to faded former champion Jean Pascal, the other a majority decision to prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy. This was expected to be a good battle, a fight that perhaps was going to steal the show.
 
Instead, Gvozdyk closed the show early. Each round got progressively better for him and worse for Gonzalez. Gvozdyk boxed behind his jab in the first, opening up on occasion with combinations. Emboldened, he began the second round with more flurries, having little trouble landing while Gonzalez had little success. Gvozdyk punctuated the second with more good shots, then turned the third into an exclamation point. Gonzalez continued to come forward, trying to turn the tide. He was playing into Gvozdyk’s hands, walking into a right hand counter, and soon a three-punch combination. His punches were wider, leaving his chin exposed for Gvozdyk’s straighter shots. Gonzalez went down about a minute into the round.
 
On first glance, it seemed to be a flash knockdown, the result of Gonzalez being off-balance. In reality, Gonzalez’s legs were gone, taken away from him.   Gvozdyk continued to strafe Gonzalez with punches, moving and changing angles after each combination, avoiding Gonzalez’s approaches and beginning anew. Gvozdyk scored another knockdown with about 10 seconds remaining in the round. Gonzalez’s corner had seen enough, walking up the steps and asking the referee to stop the fight.   It was the right call. The end would’ve come soon enough anyway.
 
Gvozdyk had gone from landing 8 of 17 power shots in the first round — a very good 47.1 percent — to hitting Gonzalez with 14 of 23 in the second round (60.9 percent) and then an overwhelming 50 of 66 in the third (75.8 percent), according to CompuBox. With that, Gvozdyk moved to 13-0 and 11 KOs. He’s now beaten Nadjib Mohammedi, Tommy Karpency, Isaac Chilemba and Gonzalez. Now it’s time to step up another level. We need to see how he does against that second tier before seeing whether he deserves to face the cream of the crop — Andre Ward, Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson.   Gonzalez is now 18-3 (14 KOs).

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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