Lomachenko Poised for Pound-for-Pound Greatness

Two fights into Vasyl Lomachenko’s professional career, he lost an ugly split decision to Orlando Salido, and the boxing world pumped the brakes on the amateur legend’s hype train. Five fights later, they’re debating whether he’s the best fighter on the planet.

Lomachenko (7-1) defeated Nicholas Walters on Saturday, retaining his WBO junior lightweight title (the second belt the Ukranian has won, in two divisions). Walters was expected to be the type of dangerous puncher that could seriously threaten Lomachenko. The fight ended up falling far short of expectations, mainly due to Lomachenko’s brilliance. He dominated Walters through seven rounds, making the undefeated Jamaican quit on his stool before the eighth.

While Lomachenko’s recent victories over solid fighters like Gary Russell Jr. and Roman Martinez have earned him a place in the top 10 pound-for-pound rankings, his win over Walters has many wondering if he should be #1.

After Saturday’s flawless Lomachenko performance, famed trainer Robert Garcia said that he believes the Ukranian deserves to be ranked as the best fighter in the world.

"I think so," Garcia said. "I would say that. Skills wise, ain’t nobody better than him honestly. He’s the real deal, skills wise."

HBO lead commentator and boxing analyst Max Kellerman acknowledged that while the sheer volume of victories is not there yet for Lomachenko to be ranked #1, he would lean towards believing that the junior lightweight titlist is indeed the best boxer on the planet.

"It seems to me Lomachenko is operating on a higher level to the rest of boxing right now," Kellerman said. "Though he hasn’t proven it with his resume yet, I suspect he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world already and I’m pretty confident he’ll establish that in a more concrete way in the not-too-distant future."

It is rare for a fighter with so pro fights, not to mention a loss, to be considered the pound-for-pound best. But Lomachenko is peerless in his abilities in the ring, making competent and even great fighters look ordinary at best and lost at worst. His loss to Salido was a learning experience: a stud amateur learning the dirty truths of the professional game.

If Lomachenko rematches Salido in 2017, as Top Rank boss Bob Arum wants him to, he will be a heavy favorite and will likely avenge his only professional loss. By the end of 2017, Lomachenko may be the pound-for-pound king, and not only in the opinion of pundits and trainers. A potential matchup with Manny Pacquiao, which Arum has also teased, could catapult Lomachenko into superstardom.

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