By Scott Christ
Vasyl Lomachenko returns to action this Saturday on ESPN.
Record: 8-1 (6 KO) … Streak: W9 … Last 5: 5-0 … Last 10: 8-1 … Stance: Southpaw … Height/Reach: 5’6″ / 65½” … Age: 29
Thoughts: Lomachenko has his supporters in the No. 1 pound-for-pound debate, and it’s not based on résumé so much as the eye test. When you watch Lomachenko fight, you are seeing a master technician, a true artist in the ring, someone who flows effortlessly on offense and makes himself hard to hit on defense.
In his most recent fights, he has made pretty good fighters look like scrubs by comparison. He knocked Rocky Martinez clean out in five rounds, moving up to 130 pounds when he found the pickings slim at 126. He beat Nicholas Walters, a man who dominated Nonito Donaire, into a sad submission after seven rounds. And he did pretty much the same to Jason Sosa last time out, with Sosa lasting nine rounds, none of them in his favor. Hell, there wasn’t a minute of the fight in his favor, and it’s not as if Sosa wasn’t trying.
Lomachenko looks unbeatable right now, at least compared to his peers. Some feel he’d have to go up to 140 pounds, where Terence Crawford and now Mikey Garcia reside, to find real competition, though Garcia has said he’d fight at 135 for the right opponent. (Garcia’s falling out with Top Rank likely means they won’t come looking to make him richer any time soon, though.)
Record: 25-2 (21 KO) … Streak: L1 … Last 5: 4-1 … Last 10: 8-2 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’8″ / 67″ … Age: 30
Thoughts: Marriaga is a tough fighter, a Colombian who is more than just a home cooked record, a guy with power and grit who will hang around. Nicholas Walters and Oscar Valdez beat him at featherweight in title fights, but they couldn’t stop him.
So we’re said that Marriaga is tough. He’s game. He’s gritty. He’s also almost surely overmatched against Lomachenko. He’s coming off of a loss to Valdez, and when he was announced as Lomachenko’s next opponent, nobody was excited about it. Frankly, he just doesn’t have the tools, unless he lands a shocker punch and can win the fight off of that, basically. But whenever we get down to “well, that guy has a puncher’s chance,” what we’re basically saying is it’s a mismatch except puncher’s chance guy can bang a little. It’s terribly rare that anything other than the expected comes of it, though.
Matchup Grade: D+. Lomachenko deserves something more than this, and fight fans aren’t happy. Nor should they be. Whatever the reason we got this fight — Top Rank officials say that Orlando Salido basically backed out of negotiations, he has his own side to it, of course — it’s not one to get very excited about. It’s fun to watch Lomachenko, but fight fans crave competition. Is there any for Vasyl at 130? Perhaps not, but this fight won’t prove that. The division does have Miguel Berchelt, Jezreel Corrales, and Gervonta Davis, all good fighters, as fellow titleholders. Hopefully, if he stays at super featherweight, one of those guys will come next, with Berchelt or Corrales the more likely, if any of them can be called “likely.”
- Ray Beltran vs Bryan Vasquez: Beltran (33-7-1, 21 KO) and Vasquez (35-2, 19 KO) are both fringe contenders at 135 right now. Ray’s had his chances, and his two best performance came in 2013, a robbery draw against Ricky Burns he deserved to win. He lost badly to Terence Crawford in 2014, and in 2015, when he had a chance to fight for the WBO lightweight title again, he stopped Takahiro Ao, but he (1) had missed weight, and (2) failed a drug test after. He’s won four in a row, including a wipeout of Jonathan Maicelo on HBO in May. Vasquez’s losses have come to Takashi Uchiyama and Javier Fortuna at 130 pounds, the two best fighters he’s faced. He looked a level below both of them, but he’s got a lot of solid wins on his record, and I wouldn’t be terribly shocked if he pulled this one off. Negative notes for both: Beltran just turned 36 years old, and Vasquez hasn’t fought in 13 months. Plus side: It’s a competitive matchup on paper, even if not the highest level. Matchup Grade: C+.
Source:: Bad Left Hook