For the third time in three fights Vasyl Hi Tech Lomachenko forces a fighter to quit.
This time it was Miguel Marriaga, the only fighter apparently willing to even step in the ring with Lomachenko since a rematch with Orlando Salido fell through and the mega fight with the Cuban Assassin Guillermo El Chacal Rigondeaux continues to prove elusive.
So Lomachenko took on Miguel Marriaga, a two-time title challenger live in prime time on ESPN, a purpose built platform to showcase the hottest prospect in world boxing.
It was not a perfect performance though very nearly.
From the opening bell Lomachenko used his foot work to pressure Marriaga, an important aspect of Lomachenko’s game. He did this to last victim Jason Sosa as well though Sosa was a full-fledged Junior Lightweight where as Marriaga is a featherweight moving up to take on Lomachenko. Sosa was at least at times able to stand his ground.
Though Marriaga seemed undersized in the fight, on paper he had a two-inch height advantage and a one-and-a-half-inch reach advantage though was completely disarmed as Lomachenko flawlessly controlled the range from the entire fight.
Lomachenko used a variety of soft probing shots to keep Marriaga’s hands at home and occupying a defensive shell. Lomachenko picked his spots and Marriaga gave up the body on a couple occasions allowing Lomachenko to land a hard-straight punch to the body.
Nevertheless, Lomachenko seemed to grow frustrated at the lack of action between himself and his opponent – at least Sosa was game! Marriaga largely back pedaled and attempted throw the occasional looping lottery punch on the back foot. Just before the end of round two Lomachenko had chased Marriaga all over the ring and had the Columbian up against the ropes, Marriaga came with a looking right hook that landed on Lomachenko who had a rare momentary defensive lapse and was caught standing straight up.
The round ended and I cannot speak Ukrainian however Lomachenko’s father and trainer Anatoly gave his son an ear full.
In round three Lomachenko continued to step on the gas and pressure Marriaga forcing Marriaga to throw punches with desperation out of pure self-preservation.
Then with about 30 seconds to go in round two Lomachenko lured Marriaga into throwing a straight punch which Lomachenko slipped easily and scored a knockdown with a straight left that sent an off balance Marriaga to the canvas.
With seconds to go Lomachenko put his back to the corner and beckoned Marriaga to unleash his best shots, the two traded a bit in the corner with neither landing anything of much significance. However, what Lomachenko continues to show is a sense of the crowd – being able to feel the audience, I believe he could tell the occupants of the Microsoft Theater in LA were growing restless and like any artist Lomachenko wants to entertain!
This, among many other reasons is why Lomachenko can become one of the biggest stars in boxing.
His antics lifted the crowd and cheered him back to his corner at the end of round three.
In round four Marriaga perhaps out of desperation perhaps legitimately by accident headbutted Lomachenko opening a cut above the Ukrainian’s left eye. The trickle of blood did not seem to be getting into the eye itself so was no bother.
Round five was more of the same, the onslaught continued with abatement. The constant pressure was wearing on Marriaga and he appeared to be fading, he missed with nearly everything he threw while Lomachenko showed why he’s #3 among all active fighters in power punches landed.
Personally, I thought the fight could have been stopped in round six. Marriaga hardly landed a punch and certainly nothing of any significance.
Lomachenko has shown the capacity in less than 10 fights to take his opponent into deep water and drown them – the fighter must worry about the angles, the foot work, the pressure, the punches – it is all mentally and physically draining.
Lomachenko breaks you.
With a minute left in round six Lomachenko bullied and battered Marriaga all over the ring and sat down on some hard hooks and upper cuts.
Lomachenko continued with the barrage in round seven – relentless pressure had Marriaga nearly running from Lomachenko, with 10 seconds left Lomachenko landed a left hook on the retreating Columbian that had him down for the second and as it would turn out the final time.
The bell rang to end round seven and as Marriaga took his stool his corner summoned referee Jack Reiss and said No Mas.
Though not as impressive perhaps as his recent performances against Sosa or Walters that’s largely down to the tactics of Marriaga that seemed to be to simply survive.
However, some interesting wrinkles did surface in Lomachenko’s performance nonetheless:
His growing comfort in the ring. He truly looks at home in the ring, he moves flawlessly from technique to technique.
Lomachenko has real entertainment value as a fighter. He truly seems to have a sense of the crowd during his fight and views himself as an artist – the ring is his stage.
He has a growing mean streak. Bob Arum, Lomachenko’s promoter and head of Top Rank has said that Lomachenko is the best talent he’s seen since Muhammad Ali – that’s quite a statement. One aspect of Ali’s game that rarely gets mentioned is what a ruthless and clinical finisher he was and the seeming contempt he had for his opponents.
Many balked at the matchup between Lomachenko and Marriaga, even though Marriaga had a record of 25W-2L & 21 KOs, more than twice the professional fights of Lomachenko. Marriaga had never been stopped in those two losses and had challenged mutual opponent Nicholas Walters for his WBA Featherweight title losing by decision.
And yet, Lomachenko showed complete contempt for Marriaga. Lomachenko continues to make anyone who gets in the ring with him look like it is THEY who are the inexperienced novice.
A pattern has emerged that Vasyl Lomachenko might take two, three or four rounds to figure you out, gauge distance before unleashing hell on you.
In this fight, Lomachenko was the boss from beginning to end and that is the big take away from this one-sided beat down of a more than serviceable opponent.
If I’m honest I’m not a huge fan of the nickname Hi Tech. I get it, his team uses high end training methods to produce a fighter who looks like he comes straight out of a video game.
Now, officially in double digits as a professional boxer, it’s not too late to change nicknames.
I like The Bully of Akkerman. That shoe fits.