Vasiliy Lomachenko did exactly what we expected him to do when he demolished Anthony Crolla with a fourth-round knockout in front of 10,101 fans at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday.
That didn’t make the feat any less spectacular, though.
After taking a couple of rounds to figure out his opponent, “Hi-Tech” put his foot on the gas with a minute left in the third round and scored a knockdown to end the frame. In the fourth round, Lomachenko crushed Crolla with a short right hook that dropped the Englishman face-first to the canvas.
A ringside look of the knockout 👀#LomaCrolla pic.twitter.com/r02x0udN3s
It was yet another dominant performance for the two-time Olympic gold medalist, who improved to 13-1 (10 KOs) and retained his two 135-pound titles. The real question is: What does this latest performance do for his ranking on the fictional pound-for-pound list?
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If he wasn’t on top of the list before the Crolla fight, there was virtually nothing the 31-year-old Ukrainian could have done to put himself ahead of the other man jockeying for the top spot, Terence Crawford. Honestly, the only thing he could have done was hurt his standing against an opponent who was as much as a 100-1 underdog. Fortunately for Lomachenko, he did no damage to his image as he steamrolled the overmatched Crolla.
The victory does set a pace as we enter an intriguing stretch of fights over the next four weeks that will feature pound-for-pound fighters Crawford, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Srisatkt Sor Rungvisai. Crawford will square off with Amir Khan on April 20; the following week, Sor Rungvisai will have a rematch with Juan Francisco Estrada. Alvarez is set for a showdown with Daniel Jacobs on May 4 to cap off the stretch. If you want to look a little farther out, Oleksandr Usyk will make his heavyweight debut against Carlos Takam on May 25.
That’s five pound-for-pound fighters competing in April and May. If nothing else, we could see some shuffling on the list by the time summer arrives.
Lomachenko did his job and established a standard for his P4P peers. If Crawford struggles at any point with Khan, the lightweight champion could usurp him on some lists. Canelo has the most to gain if he looks stellar against Jacobs, who is the best opponent that any of the aforementioned fighters will face. Sor Rungvisai is a close second for potential benefits; Estrada has a sparkling record and he pushed Sor Rungvisai to the limit in dropping a majority decision last February. Usyk isn’t fighting a top opponent, but this will be the 2012 Olympic gold medalist’s first step in staking his claim as the best in the world.
Outside of the pound-for-pound list and the effect that Lomachenko’s win could have on it, there is a look to the future. Lomachenko set his sights on Mikey Garcia, who recently suffered his first loss against fellow pound-for-pounder Errol Spence Jr. last month when he moved up from lightweight to welterweight. A Lomachenko-Garcia showdown is the best fight for the Ukrainian and a matchup that would have the boxing world salivating.
“I want to fight with @mikeygarcia” #LomaCrolla pic.twitter.com/emObj1dWYe
The looming issue is politics. Lomachenko fights under the Top Rank/ESPN umbrella while Garcia is with PBC/Fox/Showtime. Top Rank’s Bob Arum stated that a deal could be made between the sides, but the real question is: Under what circumstances? Of course, a deal can be done if it is favorable to Arum. There is certain to be a lot of push and pull to get this fight made, but few are expecting it to happen.
The same can be said of a showdown with Gervonta Davis, who has been running roughshod over the competition. His promoter, Floyd Mayweather, doesn’t seem too keen on making that fight happen at the moment. It’s unlikely those two would clash in 2019, if ever.
Then there is rising star Teofimo Lopez, who is a Top Rank fighter and will be in the co-main event of Crawford-Khan when he faces Edis Tatli. Lopez has the right set of tools — speed, power and charisma — to make a bout with Lomachenko interesting. The issue is that the 21-year-old has yet to face elite competition that would prepare him for a fight of that magnitude.
Another Instagram troll gets pulled up on by Ak & Barak…
AND @TeofimoLopez �,️🤣 pic.twitter.com/Ey3sqCDmVK
A Lomachenko-Lopez fight is quite doable but will likely have to be tabled until 2020, at the earliest. It would be wise for Arum to keep Lopez busy and set him up against quality opposition before setting the stage for what could be a PPV showdown.
There are rumors that Lomachenko may have broken his hand against Crolla, which would slow the champion’s momentum. Hopefully, everything checks out and we see Lomachenko compete again in the second half of 2019 — likely against IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey.
Lomachenko-Crolla was an exhibition that simply reminded us of how good the southpaw is. The race is now on for the rest of the boxing world to keep up.
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