By David Greisman
Vasiliy Lomachenko Calls Out Mikey Garcia After Quick Win Over Anthony Crolla
The way Vasiliy Lomachenko intimidates his opponents is different than you might expect.
He isn’t heavily muscled, a sculpted knockout machine who talks trash and threatens violence. He doesn’t need to be. That’s because his actions and his reputation speak louder than anything else. Lomachenko’s opponents know that they’re going to have a hard time hitting him, while he’s going to be able to hit them seemingly at will, seemingly nonstop, seemingly from every angle possible.
Some of Lomachenko’s opponents nonetheless throw all caution to the wind and try until they realize that even that won’t work, that they’re getting beaten down, that the fight is over. And some, like Anthony Crolla on Friday night, seem intimidated into submission from the outset.
Crolla erred on the side of caution. That allowed Lomachenko to build up steam early, going from a slower first round to a more active second, letting loose with a barrage in the third, and finally putting Crolla down for the count in the fourth for the knockout win.
Lomachenko’s pressure was mental and physical in the first round. He exerted pressure without activity, coming forward without throwing much. It still made Crolla aware of just how ever-present Lomachenko would be, how he’d have to be mindful of Lomachenko’s hand speed, his ability to dazzle on offense and take advantage of any weakness.
Crolla largely opted for trying to stay away. He was 3 of 24 in the first round, and 5 of 40 in the second round, according to CompuBox. That’s not anything that’s going to deter Lomachenko, who went from landing 8 of 42 in the first round to going 19 of 73 in the second.
If Crolla was barely opening up through two, he didn’t get a chance to even try in the third. Lomachenko sent out 101 punches, scoring with 33, ducking one shot and then responding with three, finding an angle to Crolla’s side and dishing out two. He put Crolla on the ropes and let out an endless onslaught. Referee Jack Reiss called a knockdown when one shot landed and Crolla’s body weight seemed to be supported only be the ropes.
Lomachenko celebrated prematurely, thinking Reiss had stepped in to call a halt to the fight. And so Lomachenko finished his job in the fourth, landing a right hook to the temple that dropped Crolla face-first to the canvas, his faculties abandoning him for the moment. It was over.
“[He] was even better than I thought,” Crolla tweeted afterward. “I just simply got knocked out [by] a truly great fighter.”
Lomachenko moves to 13-1 with 10 knockouts. This was his second defense as a lightweight titleholder. After winning belts at 126 and 130, he moved up to 135 last year, captured a title with a technical knockout of Jorge Linares, then unified last December with a decision over Jose Pedraza. The Crolla fight was a mismatch, albeit a mandated title defense against an otherwise overmatched challenger.
Lomachenko said afterward that he’d like to face Mikey Garcia, who recently had a failed jaunt up at welterweight against Errol Spence. It’s uncertain whether Garcia will be returning to 135 or instead to 140. There’s also still no guarantee that a fight with Garcia can be made, due to the usual issues involving promoters, managers, networks, etc. The same could be said for another fight that piques interest — a clash with 130-pound titleholder Gervonta Davis.
In the interim, there’s at least the potential for a unification bout with Richard Commey, who seemed to have earned a shot in February with a quick KO win over Isa Chaniev, only to hurt his hand in the process of picking up the victory.
Lomachenko reportedly hurt his hand in the knockout blow against Crolla. Fortunately, the injury is said to be minor. Lomachenko could be back around September, according to ESPN.
Crolla is now 34-7-3 with 13 KOs. This ended a three-fight winning streak that followed a pair of losses to Linares in 2016 and 2017. This loss came to one of the best in the sport, but it nonetheless has Crolla thinking hard about whether he should continue fighting.
“I’m gonna have a bit of time out before deciding if there’s another night in us or not,” he tweeted.
Arnold Barboza Finishes Mike Alvarado With Third-Round TKO
The bout between Arnold Barboza Jr. and Mike Alvarado was described ahead of time as a classic crossroads fight, one pitting an up-and-coming prospect against a faded former titleholder. The winner would be able to move forward with his career. The loser would leave with serious questions about his future.
These crossroads weren’t kind to Alvarado, who essentially got run over. Barboza pummeled Alvarado, dropping him in the third round for a technical knockout victory.
The differences between Barboza and Alvarado were obvious from the earliest action. Alvarado sent out a left hook to the body that didn’t seem to have much oomph behind it, particularly when contrasted with the thudding left hook that Barboza soon dished out in retaliation. When Alvarado approached, Barboza easily stepped back to avoid him, then tied up.
Barboza had no problem dealing with Alvarado’s pressure and power. And given how that’s basically all Alvarado had to offer, that gave Barboza more freedom to let his hands go. Alvarado was going to be in front of him, there to be hit. Barboza’s hands were faster. Alvarado’s head movement was barely existent. And Barboza also targeted Alvarado’s body to bring his hands down.
When Alvarado threw a right, Barboza responded with two shots. Soon he felt confident enough to throw three, earning a response from the crowd with a left hook, followed by a right uppercut and then another left hook. In the second round, he walked Alvarado into a head-popping right uppercut. The three-punch combinations began to pour forth with regularity.
Barboza hasn’t been much of a puncher in the past, judging by his record. Going into this bout, he’d scored knockouts in just seven of his 20 fights. But those numbers didn’t matter. The reality did — the reality that his hand-speed and combination punching were too much for Alvarado’s chin, once sturdy, long since weakened by time passing and punishment accumulating.
About 35 seconds into Round 3, Barboza landed a right uppercut and left hook that left Alvarado visibly shaken. Barboza noticed and followed up with a right and a left, then took his time to set up a big right hand and a follow-up left hook, sending Alvarado to the canvas. Alvarado tried to rise, using the ropes to attempt to pull himself up, only to lose his grip and fall back down. He at last made it to his feet but stumbled forward. The referee caught him and called off the fight.
Barboza is now 21-0 with 8 knockouts. He’s ready to face other contenders and may soon enough be in line for a title shot. He mentioned Jose Ramirez and Maurice Hooker, in particular.
Alvarado, meanwhile, fell to 40-5 with 28 KOs. Long gone are the days earlier in the decade when he went to war with Breidis Prescott, Brandon Rios and Russian Provodnikov. The damage had seemed to take its toll after losses to Juan Manuel Marquez and particularly in a one-sided rubber match defeat to Brandon Rios in 2015. But he’d come back in 2016, fighting twice a year and putting together six straight victories.
He may want to consider retiring. There’s a big difference between the guys he was beating and the way Alvarado looks against better opposition. Six months ago, he was beating Robbie Cannon. Last Friday, he was cannon fodder.
Bad Cut Means Quick End to Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin
Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin ended in disappointment for everyone involved.
It was the headline bout on a Fox Sports 1 broadcast, the main event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, featuring a hometown star in Truax. They had waited well into the night to see him; the bout began after midnight local time, after 1am for those of us watching on the East Coast. But the waiting didn’t wind up being worth it. The match was over before it could really get going.
The fighters clashed heads in the second round, opening a bad cut over Truax’s right eye. Two minutes later, the ringside physician decided the cut was too bad for the fight to be allowed to continue. It was ruled a “no decision.”
“It’s disappointing I couldn’t put on a good fight for the fans,” Truax said afterward.
Said Quillin: “We didn’t get the sweat in. We didn’t get to do anything tonight.”
Their disappointment wasn’t just about the spotlight. This was also an elimination bout for a world title shot. The winner would earn a shot at super middleweight Caleb Plant. Instead, they will have to wait to learn what happens next, to see whether one of them will still get to face Plant, whether they will have an immediate rematch, or whether they will return against someone else.
Both of them need the opportunity.
Though Quillin (34-1-1, 23 KOs) has only lost once, that defeat came three years ago against Daniel Jacobs, who blew away Quillin in just half a round. Quillin spent 21 months out of the ring afterward, moving up from middleweight to 168. He outpointed Dashon Johnson in 2017 and J’Leon Love last year. At 35, Quillin’s best days may be behind him. He’s hoping to still have some good days left.
Truax (30-4-2, 19 KOs) is also 35 years old. He’d peaked later in his career, suffering a decision loss to Jermain Taylor in 2012, stopped in the final round by Jacobs in 2015, and finished in one round by Anthony Dirrell in 2016. But he scored a huge upset at the end of 2017, traveling to the United Kingdom and seizing a world title from James DeGale.
DeGale won their rematch last year, leaving Truax on the outside so soon after he’d finally made it to the top. There are some who still doubt him, who wonder whether he was able to capitalize on a version of DeGale who still hadn’t recovered from injuries suffered in a war earlier that year with Badou Jack, and who just recently retired after admitting that he just didn’t have enough left.
Truax wants to prove those doubters wrong. Beating Quillin was going to be an important step back in the right direction. That didn’t happen. He wasn’t defeated, but this means he’ll need to take some time off when time is of the essence.
Chris Colbert Scores Second Round Stoppage of Mario Briones
Junior lightweight prospect Chris Colbert notched his 11th pro win while fighting on the undercard of Truax-Quillin, taking out designated opponent Mario Briones in two rounds.
Colbert was in control throughout. The statistics bore that out — he’d outlanded Briones 29-2 after about four minutes — and then the knockdown emphasized the disparity in talent. Colbert landed a big southpaw left hand, dropping Briones hard. Briones gamely got up at the count of eight, only to eat another left, then a left paired with a right. Colbert continued to potshot Briones against the ropes. He landed another left that Briones took fine, but referee Celestino Ruiz stepped in anyway, feeling that the mismatch had already been decided.
Briones protested, though he knew what he was there to do. His record, now 29-9-2 with 21 KOs, includes losses to familiar and less-familiar names, all part of a slide that began in 2011, when he was an undefeated bantamweight who suffered his first pro defeat to AJ Banal. Including that bout, Briones has now gone 9-9-1 in his past 19 fights. He’s lost three in a row and four of his last five, all within the first three rounds.
Colbert, who is now 11-0 with 4 KOs, is in the phase of his career where he’s developing in the gym and then testing what he’s learned against relatively safe opposition. He’s just 22 years old and will be moved gradually, put in with foes who’ll present a little more danger, a little more difficulty each time out.