Let’s have Lomachenko-Salido II before ‘Hi-Tech’ goes to 135

Photo credit: Tim Price/Associated Press

Photo credit: Tim Price/Associated Press

 

Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko’s (8-1, 6 KO’s) impressive dismantling of rugged, game Jason Sosa on Saturday night, at the sparkling-new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, again showed that Lomachenko may very well be the best fighter working today.

 

Hall-of-Fame promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions has taken that observation one step further and has said, “Lomachenko is perhaps the most talented fighter to come along since I worked with the late, great Muhammad Ali.”

 

Lomachenko has garnered huge praise, despite only being in the ring as a pro on nine occasions. However, this is a fighter who turned pro against a boxer with 28 fights, winning a regional title (WBO international featherweight title) in the process. In his second fight, Lomachenko challenged for a world title, tangling with Orlando Salido for the vacant WBO featherweight title, but lost a close, split decision. However, in his third fight, he beat then-undefeated Gary Russell Jr. to capture the (still) vacant WBO featherweight title. Lomachenko made three defenses of that belt before blasting out Roman Martinez in June of last year to capture the WBO super featherweight title. He then defended that belt in November against highly rated Nicholas Walters, forcing the “Axe Man” to quit after seven rounds.

 

These are the kinds of accomplishments, on an extremely accelerated timetable, that few could achieve. However, Lomachenko was well prepared for the professional game, having come into the paid ranks off an amazing amateur career that saw him go 396-1 while capturing two Olympic gold medals. His lone amateur loss, to Russian Albert Selimov, was avenged.

 

In short, Lomachenko, was ready to jump into the deep end upon turning pro. Despite only having nine fights, he is already assembling a Hall of Fame career.

 

However, one lone blemish remains, that being his loss to rugged Orlando “Siri” Salido in Lomachenko’s second fight.

 

Salido got by Hi-Tech on a split decision back in March of 2014 in a hard-fought battle that saw both fighters have their moments. Salido used aggression, in-fighting and every trick in the veteran’s book (some a little more questionable than others) to maul and mug Lomachenko, who was looking to box from the outside. Despite a late surge from Lomachenko, Salido went on to win a split decision.

 

Their styles are that of an extremely talented boxer-counterpuncher versus the classic aggressive, Mexican brawler. Many argue that Lomachenko, already a two-division world champion, has passed his need to pursue a rematch with Salido.

 

However, there is only one boxer that Lomachenko has never beaten: Orlando Salido.

 

There is talk of Lomachenko moving up to 135 pounds for a possible showdown with vastly talented, WBC titlist Mikey Garcia. Without question, that is fight that fans would like to see and hopefully, they’ll get it.

 

However, before he leaves the junior lightweight division, Lomachenko should face Salido.

 

Siri is a rugged warrior who has engaged in numerous “Fight of the Year” candidates in a career that has seen him become a multiple-time world champion. After surviving the rock-hard gauntlet that is the Mexican club fight circuit, Salido improved his skills to match his iron-tough will and become a much-accomplished fighter.

 

Lomachenko has vast and numerous options in his toolbox; Salido has considerably fewer. But what tools Orlando does have, he makes the very most of and what he doesn’t is overridden by a champion’s mettle and courage that is like no other in modern-day boxing.

 

While many will argue that Lomachenko is the most talented boxer working today, just as many would argue that Salido, a throwback warrior who simply makes for action-packed fights, may be the most consistently exciting fighter working today.

 

In a past interview, Lomachenko said he has “a different road to go (down) now” and that a rematch with Salido was “a waste of time.” However, he can’t ignore the glaring asterisk, on an otherwise outstanding resume, that should be addressed.

 

And Orlando Salido couldn’t be in a bad fight if he tried.

 

Long story short, this rematch should happen. It’s good boxing; it’s good business and it again matches two of the game’s vastly different but ultimately extremely exciting fighters.

 

Lomachenko claims opponents are avoiding him but Salido and his team have been lobbying for a rematch for a long time.

 

These are two champions who have traveled vastly diverse career paths, ultimately leading to great accomplishments for both. They should meet again to again engage in undoubtedly another all-action, exciting fight.

 

Fight fans, always salivating for marquee match-ups, want to see it.

 

With Lomachenko’s (undeniably) incredible skill set, it is getting harder to match him at 130 pounds. Matching him with the only fighter to beat him in 406 total bouts is something that would generate interest outside the ring and action within it.

 

As Top Rank Promotions ringside analyst Crystina Poncher said on Saturday night, “Lomachenko wants Salido; you know he wants to avenge that loss.”

 

Here’s hoping we get to see it.

 

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.

 

 

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