HBO results: Vasyl Lomachenko decodes Jason Sosa

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Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko decoded Jason Sosa in nine full rounds until a corner stoppage gave the Ukrainian his second successful defense of the WBO junior lightweight title on Saturday night. The fight was the main event of an HBO “World Championship Boxing” tripleheader, that took place at the brand new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.


“I came into the ring to do my job,” said Lomachenko through translation in the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. “I wanted to show everybody the Hi-Tech and I think I pleased everybody…I think I did my job really well.”


By the second round, Lomachenko had already proven the 35-1 odds in his favor were fit, if not generous, in displaying the hope Sosa had to pull off the upset. The fluctuation of Lomachenko’s dynamic was far too advanced for the challenger out of Camden, New Jersey, but the 29-year-old’s will could not be broken even though Vasyl had already crunched his numbers.


Sosa, 20-2-4 (15), had his best effort in the third but, within a span of three minutes, Lomachenko showcased a defensive puzzle with tremendous head movement and footwork. Those two facets also played a role in an offense that started to pepper Sosa with great accuracy. At times, Sosa found himself in an off-balanced stumble and, in an aqueous way, Lomachenko followed along, always in position to deliver another unforeseen shot.


“I model my style after my father. This is Lomachenko Senior’s style,” proclaimed Lomachenko about his father/trainer Anatoly.


The athleticism and boxing IQ was something at which to marvel, as the two-time Olympic gold medalist made a solid contender look clueless. Sosa’s heart left no question but he had already run out of ideas, through five rounds, as his left eye was slowly swelling to a close. Early in the sixth, Lomachenko showboated a bit by giving Sosa the gesture of a bullfighter tempting a bull. It wasn’t the only time Lomachenko mocked Sosa in the ring either but once he resumed fighting, it was a quick reminder that he could do whatever he wanted.


Lomachenko, 8-1 (6), tested Sosa’s will in the eighth round, once ripping three brutal body shots. It was the first time Sosa looked visibly shaken from Lomachenko’s swarming offense and, as the challenger was helpless behind his guard for much of it, a stoppage may have even been warranted from referee Kenneth Chevalier. Sosa’s corner could be heard giving him one more round before the ninth and, after three minutes in which Lomachenko even showed him mercy, they rightfully stopped the fight.


“I’m going to go back home; I’m going to get some rest and then, after that, we’re going to start negotiations with all the champions at 130,” said Lomachenko on his plans going forward. “If we can’t get anybody, we can move to 135 and we can do damage out there.”


Kellerman brought up Mikey Garcia, the WBC lightweight titleholder, as a potential foe at 135 pounds, and Lomachenko responded, “I want to see that fight too. I want to make that fight right away.”


With “The Matrix”-themed attire, Lomachenko, 29, reaffirmed the complex problem anyone would have once stepping into the ring with him. Gervonta Davis (IBF), Jezreel Corrales (WBA) and Miguel Berchelt (WBC), the other three titleholders at junior lightweight, probably won’t be itching to unify their newly-acquired titles against Lomachenko in the immediate future but, should he move up in weight to face the elites at lightweight, we’ll see if he really is “The One.”


In the opening bout of the HBO telecast, Oleksandr Usyk earned a unanimous decision over Michael Hunter to retain his WBO cruiserweight title. All three judges ringside scored the bout 117-110 in favor of Usyk, in his second successful defense.


“I’m very happy with my performance. I did what I wanted to do; (Hunter) took a lot of punches. I thought maybe they would stop the fight at the end.” said Usyk after the win.


Usyk, 12-0 (10), almost got the knockout win in the final round but referee Bill Clancy didn’t budge while a beating took place in front of him. Hunter, a 28-year-old American challenger, was caught with his hands down and hurt by an abundance of left and right hands to the face in the 12th. Clancy did serve a standing eight-count in the final round but Hunter managed to survive a rough ending to a gutsy performance as the underdog.


Coming off an 11-month layoff, Hunter, 12-1 (8), was competitive in the first half of the fight and his amateur boxing experience gave him enough confidence to box with the 2012 Olympic gold medal winner. Hunter was busier with the jab and snuck in a few right hands around the guard of a tentative Usyk in the start but, by the fourth round, the Ukrainian found himself and slowly gained momentum by simply letting his hands go. The body shots slowly deflated Hunter late in the fight but he showed grit by fighting back and never wavering. It wasn’t hard for him to find Usyk either but the defending titlist was the busier fighter overall, landing 239 power shots at a 52.8% rate, according to CompuBox.


“No excuses. I lost the fight, no issue with the scorecards,” said Hunter after enduring his first defeat. “I need to stay more active; I give myself a six.”


Sandwiched between the world title fights on the HBO tripleheader was Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk’s brutalization of Yuniesky Gonzalez within three rounds. The light heavyweight contest was scheduled for 10 rounds.


Gvozdyk, 13-0 (11), paid no mind to the strong power shots on which Gonzalez looked to impale him in the opening round and, with a strong jab, warded him off to an eventual beating. Gonzalez, a Cuban fighting out of Miami, Florida, was wobbled by a right hand in the second and, once feeling Gvozdyk’s power, he went for broke in the third.


Gonzalez, 18-3 (14), opened himself up to a right hand on the chin and it sent him down to his knees early in the third. The Cuban was badly shaken once time resumed but, like having some sort of death wish, continued to look for the one shot that would put Gvozdyk away. The prospect never panicked, with a desperate opponent in front of him, and the 29-year-old continued to unleash accurate shots to the head that had Gonzalez reeling uncontrollably. Referee Harvey Dock could’ve stopped the fight as Gonzalez seemed to relent, with his hands down and chin up, but, in the same moment, he went down a second time. That said, the Cuban’s corner stepped in and stopped it with five seconds left in the third.


Gvozdyk’s performance capped off a Ukrainian trifecta, for those who train at the World Boxing Gymnasium in Oxnard, California.



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