Vasyl Lomachenko to make defense of WBO 130-pound title

Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press

Photo credit: John Locher/Associated Press

 

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko, 7-1 (5), considered one of – if not THE – the best fighters in the sport, is set to make his second major title defense at 130 pounds.

 

The Ukraine-born fighter will defend his WBO junior lightweight title against game, rugged Jason Sosa, 20-1-4 (15) on April 8 at the sold-out MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

 

Lomachenko’s title defense will headline the first “HBO World Championship Boxing” event of 2017 in a year that could be a very big one for him.

 

Lomachenko comes into the fight off a big 2016. Hi-Tech scored a “Plays of the Week” knockout of Roman Martinez last June and then brutalized former world champion Nicholas Walters before forcing him to quit after seven rounds last November.

 

Few give Sosa, the former WBA “regular” titlist at 130, much of a chance in this fight, as he simply doesn’t possess the same skill set as the vastly-talented Lomachenko. What he does possess is a huge heart, punching power and determination that should make the fight a fun one.

 

Sosa enters the bout with little pressure or expectations and everything to gain, a scenario that always makes a fighter dangerous.

 

Sosa comes into the bout hot off of two wins last year. Following a highly controversial draw with Nicholas Walters in December 2015 (most ringside observers felt Sosa was lucky to escape without a loss), he went on to knock out Javier Fortuna in June and beat Stephen Smith on points in November.

 

While Lomachenko is looking forward to facing the best in boxing, he is thankful anyone will face him in the first place. A frustrated Hi-Tech claims to be a fighter many are avoiding, something that clearly bothers him.

 

In recent interviews, Lomachenko revealed both his frustration at being avoided and his ambition to one day be recognized as the very best in the sport.

 

“I would like to thank Jason Sosa, who, unlike the other champions, agreed to take this fight to determine the best in this weight division, even though everyone knows I am the division’s ‘Papi,’” said Lomachenko. “I moved up to 130 pounds hoping champions in this division were not cowards like those at 126 pounds. It looks like I was wrong. To all the other ‘champions’ in the 126-pound and 130-pound divisions, I say this to you: ‘You are not champions. You are businessmen, bad businessmen. By avoiding risks, you cheat the boxing fans and that is bad business.’ I came to this sport to prove to myself and others that I am this big and loud champion. So while all of you continue to hide from me, I am going forward to achieve my goals,” he said.

 

While Camden, New Jersey’s hard-punching Sosa respects Lomachenko’s considerable ring accomplishments, as a pro and an amateur, he isn’t in awe of them.

 

Lomachenko is looking to beat the best at 130 pounds (including being part of a possible rematch with popular warrior Orlando Salido – the only fighter to beat him) or make a move to 135 pounds to tackle lightweight star and WBC titlist Mikey Garcia.

 

However if Sosa has his way, he plans to crush all those possibilities.

 

“We understand that this is the most difficult fight of our career, due to the fact that we are fighting the best fighter – Vasyl Lomachenko – in the history of amateur boxing,” said Sosa. “The beauty of all of this is that I only had three amateur fights and will prove to the world that we are, by far, the better fighter.”

 

 

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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