BOXING

Lomachenko Shows Off Again, Deserves Tougher Challenges

Vasyl Lomachenko Toys With, TKOs Miguel Marriaga

It’s definitely time to see Vasyl Lomachenko in the ring against opponents who stand a better chance against his ridiculous level of talent and skills.

It’s abundantly clear what happens when Lomachenko is in there against opponents who stand no chance at all.

 

His opponents start off thinking they have a shot, only to learn how hard it is to hit Lomachenko and how impossible it is to stop the best junior lightweight in the world — and one of the best boxers in the sport — from hitting them. He dominates them, then taunts them to further demoralize them, then continues to pull away from them until they quit, or until their trainers end the fight on their behalf.

Three straight opponents have ended their nights on their stools. It happened to Nicholas Walters last November, to Jason Sosa in April, and to Miguel Marriaga this past Saturday night. Lomachenko knocked down Marriaga twice en route to a seventh-round technical knockout.

Lomachenko showed his superiority from the beginning, using quick hands to land punches and quick feet to cut off the ring and exert additional pressure on Marriaga. Given Lomachenko’s elusiveness, Marriaga wisely began to aim for the body instead. He landed a few to the midsection in the second and third. And then Lomachenko taunted Marriaga before knocking him down with a left hand toward the end of the third round.

Marriaga rose, and Lomachenko taunted him further, stepping into the corner and waving him in, inviting him to try to do something to return the favor. Marriaga couldn’t do enough to get Lomachenko’s respect; Lomachenko shook his hips and put his arms out to rub it in.

Lomachenko did suffer a cut in the fourth round, though it came from a clash of heads. Their heads collided again in the fifth, drawing a complaint from Lomachenko. He otherwise had little to worry about. In the fifth and sixth rounds, Lomachenko landed a total of 61 punches while Marriaga landed a mere six, according to CompuBox.

Then it got even worse for Marriaga. Lomachenko pummeled him in a one-sided eighth round, landing 44 punches in those three minutes compared to just seven for Marriaga. One of those shots from Lomachenko was a left hand to the ear that knocked Marriaga down as he was trying to get away from the ropes. Marriaga got up and smiled. The bell then rang to save him from taking any more punishment that round.

And then his trainer saved him from taking any more punishment that night.

Lomachenko is now 9-1 with 7 KOs. It’s time for him either to face the other titleholders and top contenders at 130, for him to consider moving up to 135, or for a fight with 122-pound champion and fellow two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux to be made. There’s also still unfinished business with Orlando Salido, who gave Lomachenko his lone loss back in 2014. There were controversial factors in that defeat — Salido was overweight and got away with numerous low blows. That also was a different version of Lomachenko back then.

Marriaga is now 25-3 with 21 knockouts. He also lost in his previous two title shots, both at featherweight, dropping decisions to Walters in 2015 and to Oscar Valdez earlier this year. He wasn’t a top-tier opponent for Lomachenko, but no one had ever done this to Marriaga before.

Lomachenko toyed with him until it was time to put his toy away.  

Ray Beltran Taken the Distance, Outpoints Bryan Vasquez

Ray Beltran didn’t get another highlight-reel knockout. The left hook that dropped Jonathan Maicelo for the count back in May never landed with similar effect on Bryan Vasquez on Saturday night. Beltran instead settled for a majority decision victory against Vasquez.

But going the distance was just as good for keeping him on track toward two big goals — one for his career and one for his life in general.

Staying in the win column means the 135-pound contender could still fight for a world title again sometime soon. And it also could help his efforts to stay in the United States; he’s trying to get a green card reserved for professional athletes with “extraordinary ability.”  

While Beltran’s power didn’t end the fight, his heavier hands were evident from the beginning, landing more emphatically during exchanges. That led Vasquez to try to adjust. So did a hand injury Vasquez suffered in the third. He began to move more, getting in to throw and then quickly getting out. Beltran had to adjust as well. While he wasn’t doing as much damage as before, Vasquez was doing even less.

That changed in the ninth, when Beltran suffered a cut over the corner of his right eye. A clash of heads in the 10th and final round brought more blood, this time from Beltran’s forehead and down into his eyes. Vasquez landed a handful of good shots just before the bell, hurting Beltran but doing so too late to make a difference.

The scores were on the closer end than some observers expected. One judge had it 95-95, or five rounds for each, while the other two judges gave the narrow nod to Beltran at 96-94, or six rounds to four.

Beltran is now 34-7-1 with 21 KOs. He’s won five straight; this was the first in that stretch to make it to the final bell. He remains in position for a shot at the world title currently held by Robert Easter, which would be an entertaining fight.

That would be Beltran’s fourth title shot. He was held to a draw, and many believe robbed, against Ricky Burns in Burns’ native Scotland back in 2013. He was clearly outclassed by Terence Crawford in 2014. He beat Takahiro Ao for a vacant title in 2015, only to have that result overturned because Beltran tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

He just turned 36 years old. His next shot could be his last.

Vasquez is now 35-3 with 19 KOs. He was previously a contender at junior lightweight, suffering a technical knockout loss to then-titleholder Takashi Uchiyama in 2012 and dropping a decision to Javier Fortuna in 2015.

 

Mauricio Herrera Staves Off Jesus Soto Karass, Irrelevance

Mauricio Herrera is at the point in his career where every fight is like being in the NCAA basketball tournament — every win keeps you going for one more night, but a single loss will bring everything to an end.

His end hasn’t come just yet. Herrera kept his career going Friday night with a hard-fought majority decision victory over Jesus Soto Karass.

It wasn’t the most important fight in the big picture. There were no repercussions for the talent-laden welterweight division. The fight was nevertheless important to the fighters.

Herrera needed a win. He’d lost three of his last six, coming up on the short end of decisions against prospects Jose Benavidez and Frankie Gomez, and even suffered a defeat to Pablo Cesar Cano, who was no pushover but no world-beater either.

Soto Karass wanted a win, too, but at bare minimum needed to perform better than he did a year ago, when he’d considered retiring after getting broken down by Yoshihiro Kamegai. He hadn’t won a fight in four years, back when he shocked and stopped Andre Berto. Since then, he’d gone from losing to respected welterweights like Keith Thurman and Devon Alexander to failing to have what it takes against the gritty yet limited Kamegai.

Given the storyline, and given their styles, hardcore fight fans also knew that this bout could be enjoyable to watch.

That turned out to be true. Soto Karass pressed forward early, because of course he did, and he looked refreshed in the ring. Herrera was able to counter-punch well off the ropes and was forced to keep Soto Karass away with the jab, fighting while moving backward and winning rounds in the process.

Soto Karass continued to pressure, and the two had a toe-to-toe exchange in the seventh, including a sequence where Herrera landed at least four counter right hands in short order. Soto Karass was able to do some damage near the end of the ninth round, opening a cut over Herrera’s right eye with a left hook. Both fighters showed even more urgency in the 10th and final round, combining to throw 242 punches, landing 70 of them, according to CompuBox.

One judge saw the fight even, 95-95, giving the boxers five rounds apiece. The other two judges had it similarly close, 96-94, giving Herrera six rounds and Soto Karass four.

Herrera is now 24-7 with 7 KOs. It wasn’t a big win over a top 147-pound opponent, but it was enough to get him one more night. Soto Karass is now 28-12-4 with 18 KOs. It was another loss, but it wasn’t an embarrassing one.

“Herrera can serve as a gatekeeper for contenders,” boxing writer Doug Fischer of RingTV.com aptly tweeted. “Jesus Soto Karass has enough to gate-keep prospects.”

They can each have at least one more night of gatekeeping until the time comes to close the door on a long career.

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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